"To the woman I used to be..."
An open letter to myself - what I wish I had known before I started.
Hi Michelle, It’s amazing that you have decided to start training, and I thought I would take a minute to give you some advice/tips on how to get the most out of your journey if that is ok?
1. Find a gym or personal trainer that value you, as a person.
Finding a gym or trainer that truly want to help you, share the same values that you do and, most importantly, listen to you, is the 1st step in the process. Finding somewhere that you can feel safe, and people that you can trust to help you achieve your goals, is possibly the most important part for having long term success.
2. The number on the scales is not as important as you think.
As someone who has spent my whole life watching the number on the scales move up and down, and letting that number dictate how I feel about myself, please hear me when I say, IT IS JUST A NUMBER. There are so many ways to measure how well you are doing that don’t involve hopping on a scale. Try string measurements, measure some string around your waist, upper arms and thighs, use that piece of string over time to re-measure and cut away the excess. Feel how your clothes are changing and watch the size changes happen.
From my experience nothing has been a better boost to my confidence than being able to buy smaller clothing. Write down your training programmes and compare them every few months, this way you can see your fitness/strength improving overtime.
3. Bad days happen; they are just a bend in the road.
This was probably the scariest point for me. I had had a solid 6 months of training really well and enjoying every minute of it and then suddenly I had a bad day where my training sucked and I just didn’t want to be there. As someone who has never seen a goal through to the end I thought, “oh god here it comes, I’ve given up again”
Try to remember that not everything is in our control.
Life happens and can definitely get in the way, whether it’s a stressful job, a mum with young children that is overtired or ill health, things will pop up that just zap away your motivation. These days are where you have to really dig deep and communicate. Let your trainer know how you feel, remember most trainers will have had their share of bad days, too but they will also be able to help you through it. Whether it’s by totally changing your program at the drop of a hat to allow you to just blow of some steam fast, whether it’s just listening to you and then getting your head back in the game and training, or maybe even saying “hey don’t come in today but take your dog for a walk or just do something to keep moving” they will be able to draw on a variety of approaches to help. Motivation can leave you with no notice, but it comes back the same way, just keep going.
4. There are some people in your life that won’t understand your goals.
We all have a certain amount of these people in our lives, they come in many different forms. perhaps the parents that don’t understand why you want to lift heavy weights or spend so much time in a gym, or the partner/friends that encourage you and tell you how well you are doing, but then try and get you to the pub for a few drinks and a naughty pack of peanuts.
Please remember most of these people mean no harm, they just don’t value your goal the same way you do. This is where your will power comes in, pre-plan your day, try not to cut these people from your daily life, they are still important parts of your journey, just become aware of who they are and adapt. Go to the pub with your friends have one drink and then switch to a better option to suit your goals, go to that restaurant and have a meal (most places now have healthy options available) just really scan the menu and make good choices. More importantly if you want that burger and chips have it, one bad meal can’t undo all the good work you’ve done, just get back on plan tomorrow. Life is for living, but balance must be found again.
5. Accept that this is a long journey and enjoy it.
I used to think that a year in the gym was enough time to achieve all my goals and that once done, that’s it, I could walk away a new person. 18 months into my journey I now realise this just isn’t true, I have met a lot of goals that I originally set, but the thing is, along the way I’ve set new ones too. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but that’s ok because I know I’m getting there, and once I’m there maintenance becomes the key.
Try to see it as an adventure with no direct route from A to B and no time limit on when to get there, enjoy every minute of the trip, take detours, try new things and meet new people.
I hope this has been helpful in some way to you, just know that you are not alone on this road many of us are on it together. The biggest thing I’ve found about myself during this 18-month period of my journey is that I can stick to something. Maybe not always with 100% motivation but always with just enough to keep me taking that next step forward, and do you know something, that’s good enough for me.
Take care, Michelle.