A year and a half has gone by, and I knew the day would come where I’d sit down and talk about where I was, where I went, and where I’m going in my health journey. That’s right – a girl who was scared of going to the gym alone is now a year and a half down that road thanks to my husband Eric and my trainer Deanna (Team Metamorphosis Fitness Coaching). Here’s my story.
I’m not really a ‘workout’ person and have never really been a consistent gym-goer. If I’m being completely honest with myself, my gym experiences in the past were usually filled with fear. I was fearful of what others were thinking of me when I would walk in the gym looking like I didn’t belong. I was fearful of looking stupid when I didn’t know how to work any of the machines. And, I was fearful of not seeing any results from the weights, machines, or cardio after actually getting to the gym. I mean, was I even doing anything to help, or was I just wasting my time? There have always been a lot of lies going on in my head around the gym and working out. I have spent more times than I’d like to admit driving to the gym, parking, and rolling out 10 minutes later when I couldn’t talk myself into going inside.
My husband was the opposite! When I met him, he was one of the only people I knew who said he went to the gym 5-6 days a week and ACTUALLY DID. Eric’s lifestyle for years worked weight lifting into his daily schedule. I didn’t know anyone that dedicated. I was always into running during and after college. I had interest in going to the gym over the years since he and I got together because of his consistency, but I was all worried I’d get bulky and look stupid (remember my fears?!) if I lifted weights instead of doing cardio. (I can’t make this stuff up!)
We worked out together now and then after we got married, but I just never got into it. As I got into my 30’s, I started to feel down about how difficult it was to keep weight off – can’t we just live in our 20’s forever and eat anything and everything we want, and it never sticks? I wish! Anyway, Eric ended up gifting me personal training sessions for Valentine’s Day about 7 years ago because he knew I’d been considering guidance in the gym to help. I did a full 6 months and loved how it made me feel, and even started seeing some definition in my shoulders and arms. The gym and trainer I went to was a big investment to continue plus about a 30 minute drive after a long day of work, and over time, I just couldn’t keep that up.
Fast forward to the pandemic. I honestly struggled… especially as the fall season of 2020 came around and school started up online again when we all thought things would turn around. Even after I went back to teach in the school building with students while teaching a group online at the same time, I found myself sitting on the couch after an exhausting and overwhelming day of work nearly everyday just being completely sad. Sad about the world; sad about loss; sad about changes; and sad about things not feeling normal. It wasn’t until March of 2021 that I talked to Eric about seeing if he thought the gym would help. I figured that way I would have intentional activity after work, my body would feel healthier and stronger, and hopefully it would help lighten my mood and thoughts, too.
JUST DO IT
Enter Deanna Kane. I had met her briefly through a friend when I tagged along to the gym sometimes after work. On April 6, 2021 I had a lunchtime phone call with her about the possibility of me joining her group training sessions. I explained through tears that knew I really needed to try this but didn’t know how to do it alone. We didn’t waste any time! April 12, 2021 was day one with her as my trainer, and I went in excited but extremely nervous. Deanna was fun, encouraging, demanding but not intimidating all at the same time – does that make sense?! She was a perfect fit for me! She knew what I could do when I was telling myself “I can’t do that.”
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from mid-April 2021 through mid-October 2022 from 4:30-5:30 after my workday, I would show up at the gym with Deanna and other clients and workout hard. I only took time off for traveling, some holidays or family visits, and if there was a late school event. I was completely invested. Her program was intentional and methodical and over time, our group started to feel like family. I began looking forward to the workouts, to the hour of hard work and sweat with my gym friends, and especially to how I felt after each session.
I’m including some pictures of progress and changes I saw working with Deanna. During year one, my goal was to build endurance, feel stronger, and learn how to do weight training under guidance. During my final 6 months of Deanna’s program, I moved my goal to focus on proper nutrition to see better results from the foundation of muscle I had built for a year. Let me tell you – after consistent weight training, proper nutrition didn’t take long to make a difference in how comfortable I felt in my clothes and how slim I started to feel.
Same shorts in both pictures. Same WEIGHT in both pictures.
Same shorts in both pictures. Same WEIGHT in both pictures.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
Over the past year and a half, I have realized many things. Here are the most important reminders I want to share with you:
Being a teacher I can think of plenty of reasons why I’m too tired or mentally exhausted from my job to go to the gym. Why use up any energy I may or may not have left, right?! I hear you!! But making time for the gym will never leave you in regret. I realized I was spending more than an hour (or two or three) after work sitting around and eventually feeling bad about myself for being sedentary, but then never doing anything about it.
I thrive on results, and even more so on quick-fixes and instant changes. I suppose most people do. When it comes to working out and weight training, I learned that it’s a journey. Building muscle takes time, but you will with consistency! This is partly why I knew I needed to start with a trainer. Having someone expecting me to show up, planning and guiding my workouts for results, and encouraging me to keep pushing was everything for my personality type!
I have forever been worried about looking dumb at the gym. I mean- pushing the sled or doing frog jumps (LOL) down the turf or not knowing how to work the benches and machines I wanted to use- I figured people would think I didn’t belong. Honestly, I realize now that people at the gym are investing in themselves – not selfishly – but they are there usually minding their own business and getting their own workout in. If they do observe you, most likely they are thinking “good for her / him for being here!” (I know I think that of others I see! Cheer them on, right?!) Regardless, even if they are in a zone, others at the gym are always helpful if you need it, you just have to ask. And for me, when I started working out and facing my fears, I was grateful to have a trainer. Not only was she ‘showing me the ropes’, she was also encouraging me in proper nutrition, showing me how to reach my goals, teaching me how to work gym equipment, assisting me in reps and weight, and monitoring my lifting form. This helped me build some of my own confidence little by little.
This one hits home. I used to wish I felt healthier and stronger. I wished I wasn’t huffing and puffing when doing simple daily tasks at my age. I wished my favorite jeans weren’t so tight. I wished my arms didn’t look pudgy in pictures. I wanted to look toned and feel healthy. BUT I was wishing and wallowing instead of taking action. My downward spiral wasn’t going to change without me making changes.
WHAT HELPED ME
Okay, ultimately better health takes you saying YES that’s what I want, and acting on that. I was that girl who mentally just couldn’t see sunshine like I used to. There were days I didn’t even know how to feel energized or happy like I used to. When I finally admitted these things to myself and those close to me, I was able to take steps to help myself.
1. Have a plan. Working with a knowledgeable trainer allowed me to just show up ready to work out. If you don’t have/get a trainer, consider using a workout app that has pre-planned workouts so you have something to stick to and a methodical way to work out. Ask a friend to workout with you! If you’re going to work out on your own, stay accountable by posting on social media or having someone you know check in on your goals.
2. Be consistent! I saw results mentally and physically when I consistently went to the gym for weight training. (Note, no cardio involved.) Pick your day(s) and time(s) and show up ready. Whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour – don’t let excuses get in your way!
3. Track your food. This goes along with consistency. Having consistent workouts needs to be accompanied by good nutrition. I started using a food tracking app a little over a year into weight training. I use Carbon, and that made a HUGE difference in my meal prepping and learning appropriate portion sizes. Although I ate generally healthy, I was lacking about 75% of my daily protein intake and didn’t even know it. I also realized that I was eating too much of my ‘healthy’ snacks like almonds and cheese. Biggest take-aways:
- Tracking will help with portion sizes and protein intake. Ultimately, this changed my body the quickest with weight training. I noticed definition in my arms, a smaller waist, and a thinner face. (See image/caption below.)
- Meal prep and then pre-enter all of your food intake for the week. This will help you stick to your goals and say ‘no’ easier.
- Deanna said food tracking would end up being fun, and she was right – it is like doing a puzzle! (Reach out to me if you have questions about using the Carbon app— I’d be glad to share how it helped me!)
Left: May 21, 2022 / Right: May 29, 2022
What changed between pictures? Tracking my food in Carbon & upping my protein intake. My weight is the same in both pictures!
4. Be willing. Be willing to let go of some things for awhile. You may have to sacrifice comfort, those extra funds, your free time, or even extra sleep. But, remember, you won’t have to stay this disciplined forever!
- Be willing to say no. Most of the time I enjoy eating and drinking whatever I want. BUT I will say, I saw the most results when I consistently was willing to say ‘no.’ This isn’t forever, but give yourself a solid couple of months saying no to desserts, alcohol, or other indulgences. Being willing to let go of old habits for a period of time helped me get to my goals faster.
- Be willing to evaluate yourself. This is where I had to be really honest with myself. Did I want to feel happier? Did I think the gym might help? What was I willing to give up to give it a try? I had to take a look at my spending, and I had to let go of things I enjoyed indulging in (buying the newest fashion trend, going straight home to relax after a long day of work, taking weekend shopping trips/Target runs, making coffee stops, doing happy hours, etc.). I had to decide investing in myself by paying for a trainer and letting go of those other things was worth it. And let me tell you, it was!!!
- Be willing to stay off the scale! I mean that – this helped me mentally so much! In all of the photos in this post, my weight has not changed. Even though the number on the scale rarely if ever moved, obviously my body looks different. Losing fat and gaining muscle takes time (thus my reminders above!) and can result in slower weight loss, or no weight lost at all because of simultaneous gain in muscle. Do not let this discourage you… celebrate all of the small changes and improvements!
5. Set goals. What do you want from working out? Maybe it’s endurance, mental wellness, strength, heart health, aging well, weight loss, muscle gain, toning up… you name it! Write the goal down. Decide how to achieve it. Perhaps it’s getting a trainer for guidance like me, or just starting to improve your health by tracking your food and protein intake. Maybe it’s adding HIT at the end of your workouts or going on a walk every day outside. It could be doing 10,000+ steps a day at work, or getting your heart rate up and keeping your body moving every day! Write it down, take actionable steps, make the sacrifices, set a time-frame, and focus!
Left: April 2022 / Right: Oct 2022
My favorite changes with proper nutrition after consistent weight training was a smaller waist, thinner face, and better definition in my arms.
If I can do it, anyone can. You just have to be honest with yourself. You have to want it. You may have to sacrifice, be willing to face your fears, maybe invest extra time or finances, find the right place, find the right people, and then stick with it. Now please don’t think I’ve conquered all my gym fears in 1.5 years – but know I am learning to think on truth, embrace my journey, and continue to prioritize what I now know I am capable of doing for my physical and mental health – thanks to those who have guided me on the way.
I am so glad I took the leap in making things happen. I am beyond thankful for Eric always supporting and encouraging any endeavors I am interested in. I am grateful that God placed Deanna in my path at just the right time… that she listened to me, shared her knowledge, and gave me direction to reach any and all goals that I had! It renewed my sense of positivity and was the experience I needed in many of those low moments I was having. It also showed myself that I can face challenges and fears and not give up. I gained strength both physically and mentally – which was an incredible need.
After a year and a half, I am out ‘on my own’ – taking what I’ve learned, going with the confidence I’ve built (under Deanna’s guidance), and still making the gym part of my life 3 days a week. I am more flexible with my schedule now – sometimes going at 5:30 AM before work, or on a weekend morning, but it’s been a month since I’ve ‘flown’ from the Cocoon, and I’m going strong using her online workouts! I am grateful for the life-long ‘family’ I have at The Cocoon Training Facility with Deanna (along with Dennis and Rebecca). My fitness journey with them was so much more than physical fitness, and I am so thankful!
If my post resonated with you in any way, I’d love to connect with you! Reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook and let’s chat. If you are curious about weight training, goal setting, or what Deanna’s workouts are like, give her a follow on Instagram! She has built an amazing community at The Cocoon and is such an inspiration. Thanks for following along with me and reading today’s special post.