I attended YMCA summer camp during a prime age in which boys started to come into focus. However, with my curvy body and dark complexion, I quickly realized the girls the boys were chasing were the opposite of me – blonde, flat-chested, and blue-eyed. Now I carry a different perception of beauty than I did when I was a preteen. Along with other women at my age, I admire fitness experts that work hard to develop a strong, healthy body. For me this is attainable and inspirational as I watch women that looked like me build their curves to be lean and mean.
We need to train our minds to think differently. I know that health and fitness is not always fun nor something we want to put effort into without sacrificing delicious meals, but I put together five tips that have helped me bolster a mind of strong dedication.
All photos are by Sarah Mackenzie Photo.
Invest in Yourself
Excellent, professional, and responsible trainers can cost more than a car payment, but they are a sound investment in your health journey – especially if you don’t know what you are doing. They will teach you what working hard is and keep you accountable long enough for you to make fitness a habit. My husband tried to be my trainer several years ago but fell short as a food enabler. He would train me but would offer me a chocolate cake after dinner! Bless him for trying though. Note that you will not want to waste that money you put toward a trainer, so make it count and take it seriously!
Use the NO-Buddy System
This is the opposite of what you hear people advise when it comes to making a habit to go to the gym. Though having a buddy can be motivating in the beginning, it can be a recipe for failure as you develop a habit of depending on them to get yourself to the gym. There seems to be a domino effect where if one friend cancels, so do you. After several months of hitting the gym, I was advocating everyone I knew to come with me. I even rallied up a group of girlfriends to join the same gym. However, as soon as they started canceling on plans, I started to let that be an excuse not to go. It was as if I was attached to them at the hip and without my other half, how could I go without them? So silly. Once I realized how I was sabotaging myself, I decided that I would go on my own accord to develop independence. If I happen to see my friend in spin class, then great! However, I no longer try to ask who is going to the gym on a daily basis.
Keeping the Visual
Use Instagram! This advice can be helpful or detrimental depending on how your clock works and how you react to beautiful, perfect images. Some fitness Instagrammers use poses that mislead their followers to reach an unattainable and unrealistic goal. On the flipside, other Instagrammers advocate a healthy lifestyle and do not pose an alternate reality. Whitney Simmons is one of my favorite inspirational fitness Instagrammers as she provides not only solid advice on how to view fitness but also offers valuable workouts you can do yourself. This is the kind of motivation I am speaking of – the kind that keeps you dreaming of that summer bod and wanting to be your best self. If looking at perfect bodies motivate you, go for it! But don’t let it frustrate you if your body doesn’t match theirs later down the road. We all have beautiful and different bodies to celebrate along with our own fitness stories to write.
Torture Your Friends
You may be thinking, “Jennifer, you just told me NOT to train with your friends – what the hell?!” But that is not true. I said do not depend on your friends to go to the gym. However, for those friends that desire to workout (seriously) but cannot afford a trainer or lack motivation, you can become their motivation. You cannot hand-hold your friends, but you can be their source of inspiration and fitness. Some Sundays, I will get my friends together and do interval training for two hours. I put together exercises that I do with my trainer but extend my sessions longer. This pushes me while provides me time to hang out with my girls. Alternatively, it helps you stay motivated as well!
No Bitching or Moaning
Your mindset is the most important part of losing weight. You cannot do these exercises with negativity that would cause you to complain and cheat yourself during workouts. Doing so will just put an expiration date on your fitness journey. If your mind is on the wrong track, the tips mentioned above will render useless. So make sure you are playing fair because in the end you cannot cheat your body. Cutting corners and eating poorly behind the scenes fosters failure. Work on all these habits and perspectives daily every hour at every minute that you are tempted to reach for a donut at work or decide to skip the gym. Unless you are a machine, the average person has to work on their dedication to achieve results.