8 TIPS FOR TAKING YOUR LIFE BACK AND STARTING A GYM ROUTINE
Everyone wants to be HAPPY, everyone wants to be FIT, everyone wants to feel GOOD. So where does it all start? How do you start? I’ll let you in on my journey, then tell you what you can do to start your very own.
I feel as though all of our health and wellness journeys come to us at different times. and although I was an athlete all growing up and my body was physically well, my mind was not.
When I was younger I was sexually assaulted. Words still cannot describe what that is like, but some of the feelings that come to mind are, guilt, hate, betrayal, distrust, depression, anxiety, confusion, and… a severe lack of self-love.
It’s probably safe to say we have ALL had a point in our lives where we are mentally not okay. Whether we had a bad break up, just got out of an abusive relationship, are fighting postpartum depression, lost a loved one—those bad days, bad months, bad YEARS—they can be defeated, they may never be forgotten, but you CAN heal.
There are many different forms of healing, and with time all wounds are softened. But without me really realizing it, the gym was my main source of healing.
The gym rekindled my love for life. (sounds so cliché, just stay with me, it gets better)
So, I learned early on that boys can be jerks, and life can suck sometimes. But you know what makes it suck less?
Feeling strong. (notice I didn’t say anything about looks here, fitness is a feeling)
I found my love for fitness during my freshman year in college, where I would go to the gym with a couple guys and girls who were really nice to me, and they showed me the ropes. I started to get the hang of it and was hooked.
I didn’t obsess over the gym, but I loved it. I felt like the gym and I were friends; like it was there for me to help me out when I needed it. I didn’t live for the gym like a lot of swole cats out there, I merely enjoyed it because it added a happiness to my life. I never let myself feel bad if I missed, because that would mean the gym was controlling me. But no, my strength and well-being finally became something in my life that I could CONTROL. With that control came an empowerment and confidence. And I felt strong again. I could see that I was lifting more day after day. I could do one more set, one more rep. My ability was growing. And so was my confidence, my self-worth, and my happiness.
The gym taught me to love myself.
With each rep I felt my inner struggle with self-love become less and less grueling. My pain was left at the gym in the form of blood, sweat, and tears (okay I never really cried at the gym, but I pulled a hang nail once…blood)
My pain and anger definitely led majority of my workouts, but after the habits were set and I could physically and mentally see results, it became easier and easier for me to go.
The gym gave me my life back.
Working out was very healing for me and gave me a place where I could really push myself mentally and physically. Something about being able to put your body through hell and come out alive time and time again is oddly satisfying. The gym became a safe haven where I could work as hard, be as strong, and really prove to myself that I can do anything. I learned that even when life really knocks you down, you can get up and work hard for a better future.
The gym is there for us. It can be an outlet if we choose to use it that way.
The gym has a bad rep for a lot of people. It’s intimidating, it’s expensive, it’s commitment. But I think that’s almost the beauty of it. Through the gym we overcome fear, disappointment, the fear of not reaching goals, and learn how to commit to hard things. It can teach us a lot of skills and is a place of learning and strength.
Start your journey! Don’t wait!
I am now on a journey to share my story. I want to encourage all women that they can take their life back, and become STRONG. You have the choice to take your life back now. Your life really is what you make it. Through my fitness journey, I found that my past doesn’t matter…that I can still build a positive future for myself despite my scars.
As part of my journey, I want to give YOU some tips on where to start YOUR journey. These can apply to beginners, or even people who have been to the gym but are looking for some motivation.
Let’s start with 8 tips for starting your gym routine and taking your life back.
8 tips for taking your life back and starting a gym routine
- Set a specific time in the day to go and do not miss that time
Plan all activities around your gym time. Consider this an “appointment with yourself” that you cannot cancel. This is your YOU TIME, and your body deserves the exercise and care.
I find that setting a time also properly allows me to mentally prepare for my gym session.
Tip: If you want to avoid crowds, try not to go during peak times. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon seem to be the best time. I realize this is not feasible for some of you, it’s just a tip ☺
- Prepare ahead of time
Before you step into the gym you should already have a workout in mind, especially if you’re a beginner. This helps you avoid the frustration of not knowing what to do, and feeling out of place. You want to feel as comfortable in the gym as possible. You will feel so much more confident if you go into the gym knowing your plan of attack. Bodybuilding.com and YouTube are great places to start if you’re looking for workouts.
Tip 1: I find that working different muscle groups throughout the week helps me achieve balance. Ex: Monday – Arms (biceps and triceps)
Tuesday – legs
Wednesday – shoulders
Thursday – Back
Friday – Chest
Satuday – Cardio and abs
This is by no means the best way for everyone, but find a way to balance your workout schedule so you can hit all your main muscle groups, and heck, if you feel like substituting some yoga or full body workouts in there, go ahead! Do what makes you feel good.
Tip 2: You can create and write down your workout on your phone or follow a video on YouTube. There are plenty of athletes that give free workouts to try in the gym, including myself 😉
- Get good music to push you through your workouts
A huge part of the gym has to do with your mental state. If you have your favorite jams on you’re going to be more pumped and motivated to workout.
Tip: Make a playlist on Spotify or find your favorite artist station on Pandora.
- Cute outfit = Confidence
I know this sounds weird, but it helps! If you feel confident in your cute new gym outfit, you are also going to feel great and have no problem strutting your stuff, because you are HOT STUFF!
- Don’t set a time limit
Unless you NEED to. Try to get lost in your workout. Focus on your muscles at work and connect your mind to your muscle. Even if it takes longer, your workout will be better. And you will feel so good! There’s a kind of zen that embraces you when you can just get out of your thoughts, let the music push you, and focus only on YOU and the workout!
Tip: Do what your body needs to. If it’s telling you to do one more set, or a different exercise or add something on, do it. Respect yourself. Sometimes it will say “hey, this actually really hurts”. This might be your body telling you to stop. IT’S OKAY TO STOP and rest. But if it’s just sore muscles, keep on goin’ girl! The burn is how you know the workout is doing it’s job!
- Track YOUR Progress
Make some type of journal so that you do not get discouraged by looking around and comparing. The keyword here is YOUR progress… not anyone else’s. There will always be someone out there bigger, stronger, more fit, better looking. WHO CARES! Do not let discouragement get the best of you.
Side note: If you ever quit because you compare yourself to someone else and get discouraged, I’ll get really sad, call you, FaceTime you, fly out and drive you back to the gym, ANYTHING to get you back to healthy habits. DO NOT QUIT! You’ll break my heart. (Rant over)
The number one discouragement is not seeing progress. So, take photos, keep a fitness journal, stay motivated.
- The Scale won’t tell you CRAP!
It is a very common misconception that losing weight on the scale means everything. Losing weight can be a very nice reward to exercise, but…
You may gain “weight” when you FIRST START working out because muscle WEIGHS MORE than fat! DO NOT LOOK AT THE SCALE until you’ve been consistently going to the gym for a couple months, promise? K, cool ☺
- Learn that the GYM is there for YOU
Like I said earlier, the gym does not run your life. You do not need to become a “gym rat.” The gym is a safe place to learn what you are capable of. The gym is a place to grow. The first day you walk into the gym you’re not going to get ripped or lose all your weight.
Tip: Remember you choose to go because you want to improve your health and live a HAPPY LIFE, don’t go out of guilt, guilt is not self-love!
Regardless where your journey starts and how you’re starting, make sure you love yourself through the process.
If you want to become best friends come find me on Instagram @_brittanylupton. I give daily fitness tips and workouts. You can also find workout videos on my YouTube channel, Brittany Lupton.
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