I was athletic growing up. I rode horses competitively and I was on the girls’ varsity lacrosse team all four years of high school. I loved fitness! It was a stress reliever and I couldn't get enough. When college rolled around, I was determined to keep up a healthy lifestyle that I thought worked for my mind and body. I went to the gym 4-5 times a week, usually doing cardio machines or the occasional yoga class. I ate foods in moderation, most of which were nutrient-filled. But in the end IT happened- I gained weight. It might have been the college stress, or the late night eating after a night out downtown or the lifestyle transition from living at home to college, but regardless of what it was, I was not happy.
How did this happen? Why me! Didn’t I do everything right? Eat healthy AND workout? Whatever the reason, I had gained about 10 pounds by the end of freshman year. I was so uncomfortable with my body that I opted out of spring break with friends because I didn't want to be in a bathing suit. I didn’t want to go out at night and meet cute new boys because I wasn’t confident in myself or my body. I didn’t want to be social and get food with friends because I felt like I’d be judged for my ‘diet food’ … salad with grilled chicken on top and dressing on the side.
The Freshman Ten led me to a strict protocol of “clean eating” and obsessive cardio. Although I did lose weight by eating clean and burning lots of calories, it was hard to maintain such a strict lifestyle. I felt weak and insecure about my body. Whenever I had a craving, I ignored it, which always led to over-indulgence and guilt when I couldn’t resist the temptations any longer.
Finally, summer after my Junior year of college, I created an Instagram account to keep me accountable on my journey. This account quickly led me to other fitness and food handles, which eventually connected me to a massive (and very supportive) fitfam of flexible dieters (aka followers of IIFYM- http://iifym.com).
The basis of it: lift heavy weights (no girls, you won’t get bulky; https://www.atlaswearables.com/blog/2015/04/women-lifting/), and hit macros that are specific to your own body, height, weight, and goals.
My tip? The best things come in time- be patient. The toughest part isn’t making it to the gym after a long day of work. It isn’t time management or meal prep or hitting your macros every day. The toughest part is patience. Changes don’t happen overnight. You won’t suddenly gain muscle and tone up; you won't instantly lose extra arm fat, and a six-pack won’t appear overnight. You know why? Because this is a process and a lifestyle change and given that, an amazing one. After lifting heavy for almost a year, I see major changes. No more cardio bunny, no more restricting. I feel strong, empowered, and excited for my fitness future. I have always been passionate about health, but I never saw results like this (mind and body) until I started lifting. Have I reached my goals yet? Definitely not. It takes time and dedication, and I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold.
Yours in health,