365, 78, 6, 3, and 2. Arbitrary numbers, at least from the outside. Let’s give them some context.
Last year, on February 2nd, I started my journey. After years of constantly dealing with injury, being unable to keep up with my friends, and being worried about my generally failing health I made a change.
I made the choice to change my lifestyle, to remove the excuses and just do the things that I always wanted to do. It has been 365 days.
The first, and most noticeable thing, is my weight loss. I’ve lost 78 pounds, and it was hard. How did I do it? By focusing on my nutrition.
I don’t like saying the word diet, mostly because it always sounds so temporary. I started by counting calories, and making sure that those calories were quality calories. I also started exercising, heavily. Now when I say heavily I don’t mean with big heavy weights, I mean I exercised a lot. I was in the gym six days a week, focusing on rehabbing my knee from an ACL tear and doing loads of cardio. As my knee improved I started running outside and doing heavier weights in the gym.
A goal I’ve always had in the back of my mind is to be able to do one of the “mud runs” with my friends and not feel like I am holding them back. I ran 3 5K runs last summer (Mud Hero, Dirty Donkey, and Electric Donkey). Over the summer I took a break, I hit a few goals and wanted to celebrate, so I took time off from the weights and kept running, but still managed my calorie intake so that I didn’t backslide into bad habits.
In September, after watching tons of Crossfit Games replays and reading about the community aspect of training, I attended my first class. I was lucky enough to have a friend that was just as crazy and so motivational toward my goals spur me toward going. It exposed so many issues that I had; issues that I knew I had but didn’t know how to fix and issues that I had no clue about. My approach to the first month was this: If nothing else, I will have spent the time to have someone point my fitness in a better direction.
I didn’t even last a month before I was hooked. My friends will be the first to tell you that I’m pretty obsessed with this and I believe that it’s because this is helping me reach a lot of my goals in a way that I had almost given up on. I have spent the last few months having my ass handed to me daily by the workouts in a way that I couldn’t even fathom before. But, at the same time, being at this gym has introduced me to new people. I am making new friends and finding common bonds with so many of them. It’s great to know that there are people right there pushing themselves (and quite often suffering) right alongside you. The best thing I can say is that it never gets easier, you just get better at doing it. I’m now wearing pants that are 6 inches smaller, and shirts that are 2 sizes smaller.
I am not a model of willpower, and I’ve learned that I need to accept that I will make mistakes and I will break and cheat from time to time and that that is OKAY.
It’s about making changes and choices for the long term, not about the individual mistake.
If you’re starting the journey to your health, I want you to take the time and decide why you are doing it. This will help you forge your goals and take steps in the rain that direction.
Talk to someone about your nutrition. If you don’t have the money to do that, use one of the free apps that are available.
Track everything you eat, and most importantly, don’t lie to yourself about the portion sizes. Take a couple of hours a week and make some food, then portion it. This way you know what you’re eating all the time.
If you join a gym, take advantage of any free training sessions that they might offer. Have someone teach you the right technique so that you don’t hurt yourself and fall off your path.
Don’t look at someone and think that you’ll never be able to squat that much, or curl that much. Start small, don’t try to load too much on to your bar or machine and just push or pull with all of your might. Building strength is time and effort. You aren’t going to go from bench pressing an empty bar to 225 pounds overnight. This is all about time. Going slowly and making sure you can do it properly is better than pushing yourself to the extreme limit of your strength all the time (I speak from experience, thanks to my previously-torn MCL).
Lastly, share it. Talk to people about it, post pictures and find people that are going to support you in your choices and congratulate you on your success, no matter how small it may seem. That long road to your health is really a lifelong journey. It becomes so much easier to walk that path when it’s alongside someone else’s.
David Alberto is a Contributing Editor for AYBOnline.com. You can often find him making people cry in Counter-Strike. Roll percentile dice to see if his opinions change, your chances are slim.