Fitness,  General

One Step at a Time: My Fitness Transformation

Day in and Day out I see people trying to diet and lose weight. They bounce from diet to diet never really sticking with one for more than a few months. This pains me to see so many people struggle while most of the fitness industry just pushes fad diets and fancy workout plans. I’m hoping this post will help you maybe get started on a path to achieving what you want with fitness. Read on to see how I went from being a out of shape couch potato to a fitness fanatic in 2 years.

My Journey

While I am fairly fit now, this has not always been the case. Through my high school and college years I was pretty much the farthest thing from athletic you could get. I was in marching band, but that was the most physical activity I got that wasn’t forced on me by school.

This changed about 2 years ago. I started making changes and went from someone who could barely run the length of a football field to someone who can run a 5k and possibly a 10k on demand. Looking good wasn’t my initial motivation. I started running to cope with stress and other issues then it progressed into more. After a couple of weeks of running I started wanting to improve and set a goal of running 3.2 miles a 5k. This led me to push myself harder physically than I’ve ever done which made me lose weight.

I liked what was happening so I doubled down and cut out sodas. The pounds melted off. Obviously burning way more calories than I was eating, I eventually lost about 40 pounds. At my lowest weight I started to realize that I was looking thin which drove me to make more changes and start trying to put on muscle and actually look better.

My two year fitness transformation comparison.
These two pictures where taken almost exactly 2 years apart. I’m definitely happy with the change, but still not done.

The photo’s above were almost exactly two years apart. You can see the stark difference. I can tell you that the difference without the shirt is even more dramatic. I have some progress photos that I use for myself, but I’m not sharing them on the internet because I think we focus too much on that and not enough on just being healthy and how you feel. That’s what it’s really about. I feel better now than at any point in my life and that’s because of the changes I made going through this change. I used to think the people that said it made them feel good were crazy, but now I can confirm that what they say is absolutely true. Everything about my life is better now because of fitness.

The Path to Fitness Results

This is where the fun began. I was never a huge guy by any means and putting on muscle is a challenge. I am however moving slowly moving to towards where I want to be. My approach has been different than what most people look for. I am content with it taking years to get where I want to be. I’d rather be healthy and athletic than just look like I’m athletic. As I look back at how I got to where I am, I see that I actually followed the path that many of the most successful transformations have, making tiny changes.

Trying to make a drastic change doesn’t work. Most people can’t sustain cutting things they crave cold turkey period. It just doesn’t work. It’s the reason no one can stick to a diet. When you immediately cut out all the things you’re used to it only makes you want them more. They key is slowly replacing them.

When I started trying to eat healthy I went slowly. First I cut out sodas. This happened early on and I immediately started shedding weight like crazy. I actually think this is the first place anyone should start. Trade regular sodas first for diet sodas, then for lightly sweetened sparkling water, then for unsweetened sparkling water. 

When I tackled food I started swapping out frozen meals for home cooked options. This cut much of the processing dramatically and started to let me experiment. Slowly I began to trade more and more things for healthier versions. White bread for whole wheat bread. White rice for brown rice. Regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. You get the point. As I found a healthy food I liked I would replace a unhealthy food with it.

Sustaining The Change

Slowly I built a diet that now includes hardly any bad stuff. When I go to restaurants I order the same thing I look for in a meal at home. A complex carb source, fibrous carb source, and a lean protein. Since I replaced bad foods with things I liked, I now crave those things instead of the bad stuff. It means that while my diet may not be perfect eating out, it’s dramatically better due to tiny changes that I seek out when eating at restaurants. I don’t starve myself, and I definitely don’t eat salads every meal. I just focus on whole food sources everywhere I eat. If I can’t find it, I don’t stress out because I know eating out is not my primary routine. I enjoy myself then go right back to normal. No harm done.

My focus is on the long term. I want to be leaner and in better shape 6 months from now than I am today. I’m completely Ok with it taking another year to get a full 6 pack because I’m happy with my life and am slowly moving towards where I want to be. I’ve found the key is patience. If you can’t sustain whatever change you are making forever then what’s the point? Whatever benefit you get is going to evaporate once you give up. This is the reason so many people loose weight then gain it all back on diets. They made a change that wasn’t sustainable.

I’m also continually tweaking workouts to sustain fitness results. I try to keep things interesting by swapping in different movements and intervals. The most important thing is I listening to my body and changing my approach if it stops improving to get back on track. If you overwork one thing and keep smashing it even though it’s getting worse, it’s going to continue to get worse. You have to pay attention to the results and make small changes as necessary to stay on track.

The Feedback Cycle

This is where I believe the key lies. Continuously improving by making small changes. Think about this, eating a sweet potato instead of a Russet potato is going to make no difference if you eat them with a Coke and it’s 40 grams of sugar. You start with the worst offending thing then as you get rid of one thing you move to the next. The changes will eventually start to pile up and the results will motivate you to make more changes and more changes.

A few months back in a gym while I was resting between sets I saw a guy in the mirror. I was doing the typical judging how much better than me he looked, then I moved and he moved. Turns out that guy in the mirror was me. I was looking at a reflection of my reflection as two mirrors where across from each other in the corner of the gym. All those little changes had piled up and turned me into one of the guys I wished I looked like it just took time. This is one of the things keeps me going. I don’t care that I still can’t see that last row of abs, but what I do care about is that I am getting better every day.

Every week I want to improve on something. It might be a better breakfast. As of now I’m actually working to eat more carbs. My workouts have reached the intensity level that requires me to try to increase my carb intake. It’s a challenge to get in 250+ grams of complete carbs a day, but that’s what is getting me where I want because it increases my metabolism and allows me to do more. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to eat less calories to lose body fat if your diet is clean enough and you workout hard enough. You just have to know you and keep improving.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has been useful. I have achieved the fitness transformation that so many people chase after. While I did it using 1 way there are many others that someone can use. There is no magic bullet except continually improving. You can get where you want, but it doesn’t happen over night. Patience and diligently chasing positive change is the only way to get where you want to be. This post wasn’t intended to be a “how-to” but rather an inspiration of what to expect if you start making a change. I plan to post in more detail about how I got where I wanted with both fitness and nutrition in separate posts, but that’s a much longer story.

Fitness transformations are not easy, but they are completely possible if you put in the work and remain patient. With fitness it’s the little things you change adding up over time that make the biggest difference. Lasting changes are better than short term changes. To close, I’ll leave you with a short phrase that describes how I live my life, reminds me of the journey I took to get here, and the path forward. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the post.

“Never Settle, Be Better Tomorrow Than You Are Today!” 

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