This new series has started out with amazing engagement and reception. I am so happy that the questions and answers are helping you all of you!! Here we go with Question number 3 of this brand new series on my blog. If you ever want to ask a question or share your challenges, comment down below and I will make sure to answer as many questions as I can!!! Each question will be a separate blog post so I can dive in, expand my responses and give as much information as possible!
I am not by any means an expert, nutritionist, doctor or professional in any way. I am not going to be giving any specific diet/workout advice, I am just going to share with you what I do and what helps me. After losing 350 pounds, gaining some weight back, recovering from a Binge Eating disorder and learning to love myself through it all, I have learned a lot along my journey and I will be sharing MY OWN OPINIONS AND SUGGESTIONS!!!!
The struggles of working out when you are overweight. What Helped You Get Started?
Where to begin when starting exercise/physical activity?
The thing to remember when it comes to working out, no matter how much you weigh, is that you have to start with what you can do. There are many factors to keep in mind when just starting to work out, the level of activity, how long you can last, how heavy you can lift are only just the beginning. Learning how to properly do the exercises, the proper form and technique and how to actually move your body and how your body moves is going to take time for everyone, but especially anyone who is just beginning. No matter how much you weigh, how much you want to lose, or what activity is best for you, it is important to keep in mind that when we begin, we must start with where we are, doing what we can, and focusing on doing our own personal best. We cannot expect to be at someone else level who has been working out for years, and we cannot compare the start of our own journey to the start of someone else’s journey. You must truly focus on you, your body and starting where you are. Everybody is different and everything affects each person differently.
How did I start exercising when I was over 500 pounds?
For me, weighing over 500 pounds was challenging in many ways. I struggled to get in and out of bed, tie my shoes, brush my hair. I actually became short of breath getting in and out of the car. For me, the thought of working out terrified me. I was barely moving at this point since it was so physically challenging for me. Literally, I was just sitting all day long because physically that is all I could do. I never pushed myself, moved my body, knew how to move or how to really function and live day to day in this body. Would it have been smart to jump headfirst into a crazy cardio-based workout? NO! For me, I had to learn to move my body. I had to push myself outside of what I was comfortable with and just get moving. I had to force myself to be uncomfortable and figure out how to become active with that body, at that weight. So, I began walking. I walked for 5 minutes every day. This may seem like nothing, but to me, it was a struggle. I had to relearn how to move my feet, pick up my feet when I walked, push past that comfort zone. I had to allow my body to work hard. To not give up. I had to trust my body, my legs, my feet, my heart to not give up on me and to keep me going. That 5-minute walk was the longest 5 minutes of my life each and every day, but I did not give up. I told myself that I have to do this. And to start, I just had to get moving.
One step at a time…literally
Eventually, walking did become easier. Then step by step, I began increasing the amount of time I walked. If that 5-minute walk was easy that day, or I felt like I could keep going, I did. I then went from walking for 5 minutes to 6 minutes… to eventually walking for 10 minutes every day. Then 15 minutes every day. I allowed myself all the time I needed to start to move and to feel comfortable in my body. Learning what it felt like to walk, move, push past my comfort zone. I pushed myself every day to at least walk for those 5 minutes. I eventually was walking for 30 minutes every day. At that point, I had to be honest with myself. I knew I was ready for something beyond walking. I was ready to try something new.
Don’t just jump in head first!
When you are overweight I think it is so easy to just jump into a workout class, walk into a gym and start copying what everyone else is doing. Since you might not know what to do, it is easy to just copy everyone else. When in reality, you are probably not at that level yet. And chances are, if you can’t do something, you are going to get upset and probably quit. I feel it is so important to start where you feel comfortable. To challenge yourself, but also allow yourself that time to get used to moving your body.
It will take time and practice.
For me, it had been years since I was active. I had to actually learn how to move again because of the weight I was carrying as well as many of the movements were new and unfamiliar to me. I had to gain confidence in myself to move my body. For me, that confidence and strength came when I took the time to focus on me, have self-talks with myself in my head during my walks. This not only helped me become physically active but mentally feel confident and proud of myself. Taking that time and talking to myself helped me to believe that I could actually do this!
When we just jump in, it is easy to become discouraged and think we are failing and just quit because we cannot keep up with everyone else or do the moves that everyone else is doing. So it can break down our confidence and lead us to just give up. Allowing yourself that time to become active, move your body and build up your strength and confidence will help you long term to keep being successful in reaching all of your fitness goals,
As I said, 5 minutes may not seem like much, but so much was happening during my walks and it was so much more than just walking. I was finding my strength and starting to believe in myself.
It will be hard!
It will be hard, and I know when things are difficult it’s hard to stay consistent. But the only way things get easier or better is with time. With patience, and continuing to do what’s hard over and over again until we get the hang of it and it becomes easier. If we want to be consistent, we must not give up because it is hard. We must have the discipline to keep going, to go at our own pace, to do the best we can. We must trust ourselves and our journey. If we want to make changes, we have to do just that, make changes. Small changes add up to big results. You just have to do it. As I said, we must give ourselves the time we need to build up our confidence so we can just keep going!
What if it hurts?
When you are first starting to exercise, your body might be in pain. It can physically hurt to workout and move your body. Especially of me, everything hurt me when I walked. But we must be able to tell the difference between actual pain and the pain of being uncomfortable and not wanting to do something.
There is a BIG difference. For me, everything hurt, but it was more pain from being uncomfortable. From doing something that I had never done before. I had to push through that pain to grow and to change. If something feels wrong or that there is actual physical pain, its important to listen to your body and stop that movement or exercise.
I know in the beginning, that pain can be so real, but the reality is, sometimes we have to push through that pain and be uncomfortable in order to change. IF something truly hurts, stop. Maybe find a new activity or workout. Check-in with a doctor to see what they recommend. Working out can be uncomfortable, but should not truly be painful. But remember this, too many excuses and too many times we try to talk ourselves out of doing something, that will become our routine….we cannot let our excuses be what stops us. Many times the pain that we are experiencing is mental pain. Our bodies are capable of things, yet our minds stop us from accomplishing those activities.
What workout is best?
In terms of what workout plan or routine is best for you, the best advice I can tell you is to find something you enjoy or that you can consistently see yourself being able to do. What is something that you will be able to continue? Is it working out at home, joining a gym, doing group classes, walking every day….what will work for you and your schedule so that you can stick to it? Where are you physically and what are you capable of?
As said I began walking. That was what worked for me. Then I began doing at home aerobic videos. I did not have the self-confidence to workout in front of people yet. I had to do it alone, in my house, with no one else around or watching me. That is ok. That is what I needed. That was where I was, physically and mentally. But I had to make sure that I was consistent and stuck to that plan no matter what. I couldn’t take the day off just because I didn’t feel like it. If I wanted to change, I needed to work for it.
Self Confidence Led Me to A Gym and Group Fitness
Once I began to build up my self-confidence, and after I had lost 200+ pounds I decided to join a gym where I did group workout classes. When I first started taking these classes I was super nervous and awkward. But, the more I went to class the more I LOVED it. These classes were Bootcamp style classes and I learned many exercises and movements that were new to me. Before I worried about lifting heavy, I was sure that I was moving with proper form and technique. If something felt weird or awkward I made sure to find a trainer to see if I was moving properly. After I had the movement down then I would add weight.
Group fitness classes are what I still continue to do and continue to love. I also work with a personal trainer who I absolutely LOVE. He has been by my side since I first joined a gym back in 2015 and I have been with him ever since. If you are not comfortable in a group setting but don’t want to just workout at home, this may be a good option for you. Having a trainer who is there for you, to push you physically and mentally, to help you and to support you and show you what to do.
Focus on YOU
At the end of the day, I just had to start!! I had to stop making excuses, telling myself I was too overweight to workout, stop finding all of the reasons I would fail or why it would not work. Moving was the key and I just had to start. I had to begin where I was and focus on myself and what I could. I had to push myself a little more every day and get outside of my comfort zone. Worrying about what anyone else was doing would not get me to the goals I had set for myself, I needed to focus on me do what I needed to do to get there.
So really, what it comes down to, is doing what you can, starting where you are and not focusing on what anyone else can do. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, do the best you can and just get moving. No matter how much you weigh, you have the same right to be in the gym, in a workout class, to modify and change anything you need to at any time. You have the right to take up space and do what is best for you even if it is different than what everybody else is doing. Don’t worry about what anyone else will say, think or how they may treat you. When it comes to working out it is about taking care of you and doing what is best for you. The more time I have spent in a gym the more I have realized that everyone is focused on bettering themselves and pushing themselves to be better and do more. For the most part, they really aren’t paying attention to anything but themselves. Focus on pushing yourself to become stronger, work on yourself physically and mentally and doing the best you can. It will get easier and you will get stronger if you keep showing up! I promise!