My Experience With Health/Fitness
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
If you’ve been following along for a while, you probably know that I am pretty into health/fitness/nutrition/wellness… which as my dad would tell you, basically means that I waste a lot of money on overpriced protein shakes and workout classes. He has a point. But for me, it’s not a waste at all, and I’m going to tell you why.
Health and fitness has been a part of my lifestyle since I was 17 years old, in my last year of high school. I was a small kid and definitely had an active lifestyle growing up, but I had never really gotten into a true workout routine before that point. I also had the metabolism of a child and could eat whatever I wanted, which meant a lot of sour candy, Starbucks frappucinnos and grilled cheese. I didn’t think much about how I looked, but when I did, I wanted to gain weight and mature so that strangers (and high school boys) thought that I looked my age.
In my last year of high school, I left the private school that I had been attending previously, which incorporated sports and time in the gym into the daily schedule, and took my last few academic credits at a local public school. I had quit competitive dance as well, so I knew that I had to get a gym membership somewhere in order to keep both my physical and mental health in line. I had zero knowledge about what types of workouts I liked or what would work best for my body, and became one of “those girls” who spent 30 minutes on the elliptical talking to a friend, did 20 crunches and called it a day. Naturally, this routine did not deliver the results I was looking for. I noticed that my body had filled out a bit as I went through grade 12 (from getting older/maturing and continuing to eat whatever I wanted) and I wanted more tone, or muscle definition.
In January of that year, I discovered a fitness influencer named Kayla Itsines. After following her on social media for a while and looking at the amazing transformations she shared on her Instagram, I was persuaded to buy Kayla’s “bikini body guide” eBook and follow along with her 12 week workout program. This worked really well for me because it was challenging but manageable, and I didn’t have to think about what workout I was doing anymore. Everything is laid out for you in the book. I completed the first 12 weeks, then bought “BBG2” which included workouts for weeks 12-24. I think I ended up doing both books 2 or 3 times before I eventually got bored and felt like I had enough knowledge to come up with a workout program of my own.
Kayla’s workouts are an important part of the story because they are what got me hooked onto fitness. It was the first time I had ever seen my body change from working out - I finally got the ab definition I wanted for so long and I successfully avoided the freshman 15 in my first year of university. Most importantly, they were part of a long-term, sustainable plan to improve my health and physical appearance that I didn’t give up on after a week because it was too challenging. This is so important. If you are trying to change your body, my biggest tip is to find something that you can maintain for a long time, because unfortunately, it can take months to see or feel physical results. After seeing results myself, I became so genuinely interested in fitness and nutrition. I did a lot of research on how I could manipulate workouts to change desired areas of my body and how different foods affected my physical and mental state. I tried everything - every class, guide, program, diet, workouts, practice etc. to see what worked best for me.
Today, my mentality toward exercise has shifted a little bit, but I still try to do some sort of exercise everyday. If I don’t workout for a few days, I notice a massive change in my mindset, energy and motivation. I feel more depressed and less confident. I love workout classes because they allow me to schedule my day and get out of my house. I’m also able to zone out because I just follow what the instructor is telling me to do. I personally like lower impact workouts like pilates, spin, running and hiking because I gain muscle easily and am looking for a long, lean physique. However, I still do high intensity workouts from time to time because I love the way that they make me feel - for example, Barry’s Bootcamp or personal training.
Now, let’s talk about nutrition. I’ve heard that the formula for changing your body is 20% workout and 80% diet, which I definitely would agree with. I’d even say it might be more like 90% diet! Food and nutrition are essential and you definitely can’t outwork a bad diet, no matter how many hours you spend in the gym. I don’t want to give broad diet advice because food is so individualized, but one thing that I can confidently say is that everyone needs to eat less processed food (myself and Lauren included). In North America in particular, it’s more common to eat bread, crackers, cookies, protein bars and cereal than fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, lean protein and nuts. Processed food is convenient and tastes good, so I get it. But, one thing that you can do both for your internal health/longevity and your external appearance/shape is increase the amount of fresh, simple foods that you eat everyday. It’s easier to focus on increasing the “good” and crowding out foods you’re trying to limit than to cut a food category altogether. Any little changes that you can make help. Unprocessed, whole foods are also usually less calorically dense, so you can eat more of them and feel fuller, therefore consuming less total calories as well. I try to eat whole foods throughout the day and save processed food for dessert, or if I’m out with friends. It’s not part of my daily lifestyle because eating it doesn’t make me feel good.
There is no magic pill or solution, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet or workout plan that is going to change your body. I’m going to break down what I think are the most important takeaways from this post:
1. Consistency - in workouts and diet
Change takes time. Don’t expect to see massive transformations in a matter of days, or even weeks. Lifestyle transformation don’t happen overnight. Like I said above, it took me 24 weeks/6 months to see or feel any real change. The good thing is, if you can stick with something for 6 months, you can probably stick with it forever.
2. Mindset - long term lifestyle instead of short term fix
You have to change your mindset around health in order to sustain results long term. If you tell yourself that you are a healthy person who eats well and works out because it is part of your personality and an essential aspect of your routine, you are more likely to stick to it. Eventually it becomes second nature - fully integrated into your self-image.
3. Personalization - figure out what works for you
It’s good to get information from others, especially if you don’t have a ton of knowledge about health yet. However, you can’t expect to copy someone’s method and get the same results. Everyone’s different, so try everything and see what works best for you, what you like and what works best with your lifestyle.
4. Balance, but also a little bit of sacrifice
The concepts of balance and sacrifice are kind of at odds with each other, but both are so important to incorporate into your life. Work hard, but also enjoy yourself.
Let me know if you guys like this post & what your current workout routine is in the comments!!!
Love, Maddie xx