They say summer bodies are made in the winter, and that’s cool. But healthy bodies are made year-round which is more important. I realized this morning that for all the articles I’ve been writing lately, I haven’t written about getting started on your fitness journey or critical first steps. I wrote about SMART goals, getting enough water, and different kinds of workouts, but not a full writing on getting started. The first step is always the hardest. Over the next few weeks, I hope to write a series about getting started and provide some valuable resources for you.
Right now, I’m focusing on “why”. This is the fundamental reason that you are starting anything, but this is related to your fitness journey.
Starting Points: Before you Hit the Gym
Your starting point will be different from your “why” for two reasons. 1) Your starting point is the catalyst that springs you into action. 2) Your “why” is the driving force that propels you forward and keeps you going when motivation has run out. Your “why” might change as your life does. Your “why” and your starting point may be related, such as the birth of your children or a family member becoming ill, but it could be different like my or Luis’ case.
Luis Perez, who owns Live to Progress, struggled being overweight in middle school and was bullied because of it. He’s being honored this week as one of the top 100 Health Care Leaders in Vegas. He lives and breathes fitness and wellness. He constantly pushes people to be happy, go after their dreams, and expect more of themselves.
Mine was after my freshman high school gym class. I always felt weaker than everyone else and wanted so badly to be an athlete, but I wasn’t good enough for organized sports, nor did I like the people on the teams. They always talked about how much they could lift or how fit they were. I was the weird kid that read books in class all the time or was bullied because I stood up for my friends. In a few instances, I thought I would fight someone but I wasn’t sure I could hold my own. I needed the confidence more than anything. I wanted to be strong and lift the weight my peers couldn’t. I didn’t want to be taken advantage of or seen as an easy target. I still don’t. This got me started, but what kept me going was my family and CrossFit. These experiences drive me forward and influence my “why”.
Read a more personal version on Medium.
So you know my starting point, you know my “why”, but my passion for fitness didn’t take off until college. I started weightlifting and doing CrossFit with a friend that kept me accountable (shout out to Olivia for making sure I came every day). My dad was diagnosed with cancer in Fall 2014, which took an emotional toll on my family. I continued going to the gym throughout his treatments and the CrossFit community, without knowing it, lifted me up and kept my head on straight.
Dad fought through and got better, while I continued CrossFit. I came home that summer and continued doing CrossFit, getting better and better. The following school year, I brought CrossFit to campus by partnering with a local box (shout out to Jake Stabley at CrossFit Hereafter) and encouraging members to try a class on Saturday mornings.
During that same year, Dad had his spleen removed because of his cancer and a member of the fitness club I helped lead assaulted me after an off-campus party one night. This plunged me into a deep depression, made me an anxious mess, and left my mental state in a pile of rubble. Amid the investigation, I continued to pursue CrossFit and even helped coach classes. CrossFit and the counseling I attended saved my college career (I almost transferred and likely would have lost credits.
I started competing and met so many wonderful people. I took a break from CrossFit to build some muscle back because I plateaued during this time, and came back better than ever. During my junior year, I tracked my macros, did my workouts, gained 10 lbs and was at my peak. Life happened, the box I was attending at home closed, and I was left to my own devices. I started at a commercial gym, modifying CrossFit workouts, and continuing to pursue fitness throughout my internship with Little League International.
I still pursued CrossFit during my senior year, but found it more and more difficult to focus on it because of graduation, internships, and extracurriculars. I moved to more bodybuilding-type workouts and yoga when I could. I stayed healthy, but I wasn’t competing. I did one competition while recovering from an awful stomach bug. I almost passed out (this was not fun).
During this time, I was also volunteer-coaching a few boot camp classes at boutique studio in Bloomsburg, PA. I found I liked cycling and the people there. The owner fell ill, the studio needed more commitment from me, and I simply couldn’t give it because of my lack of time management skills and overlapping of activities. They left me go about 3 weeks before graduation.
I graduated and moved to a small town just outside of Altoona called Cresson, found CrossFit Excursion, and drove to Johnstown, PA (a really pretty railroad city, but it definitely needs some economic help) 4 days a week (a 40 minute drive each way). Work then moved me to Harrisburg, PA and I stopped doing CrossFit in October 2018 because it was out of my budget. My cost of living increased, and CrossFit was no longer feasible. I went back to the commercial gym (Gold’s) and was there for awhile, even working for them. I worked with their personal trainer for awhile and got the guidance and exposed more of my weaknesses that I am improving.
During this time, I began working on my Personal Trainer certification so that I could start helping my friends and family (something they had asked me to do before and I wouldn’t because of my lack of credentials) and building my own business, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
I was left go from Gold’s because their business needs changed. I filled a position for them in their time of need and when they found someone to fill the position full-time, they decided that I should go. It was a hard hit and felt like a failure at the time, but I realize now that I have more time to work on L.I.F.T. and it also showed me all the things NOT to do.
I am in search of another gym in Harrisburg and I will likely be going back to CrossFit, pursuing more competitions, and building this business. My entrepreneurial and non-conformist spirit is waiting to run. I am ready to focus on this pursuit and make it a success.
The “Why” Behind L.I.F.T.
After watching ailments and injuries strike my family, working with others that endured similar challenges, and battling mental illness myself for years (depression after a serious traumatic event in college), I know the difference a caring hand makes
My dad has been battling cancer for years and is now challenged by a broken leg. My brother fell off the roof and fractured 2 vertebrae in his back. I’ve encountered a woman with degenerative disc disease that has battled her weight all her life. I chatted with another woman with similar ailments and taught her how to deadlift more weight than she ever thought possible. I taught a person with exceptionalities how to squat correctly.
All of these people are capable of great things. The power of encouragement and guidance cannot be underestimated. Each of these people will reach their potential if someone shows them they are capable of MORE.
I, myself, am capable of more.
And so are you.
The people mentioned above are for whom L.I.F.T is created. L.I.F.T. brings a light to the darkness for people struggling with their strength, inner and physical, through building confidence and uncovering capabilities.
These people are also the reason I keep moving forward and working on my physical fitness: To demonstrate the achievable results despite the challenges.
So, What’s your “Why”?
For what reason are you choosing to pursue fitness and health now? Why is now the time to do it? What has changed in your life (or not changed) that prompts you to take action? Let me know in the comments!
I want you to really think about these questions. Meditate on them. Pray on them. Do what you need to do. If you dig in and it hurts or is uncomfortable, that’s a good thing. Remember that feeling when you’re laying on the ground after a workout because it was tough. No workout hurts as badly as the inner battles you’re fighting.
When you’re ready to start, just start. Don’t worry if it looks weird, if you have to ask for help, or if you only make it to a few cardio machines. Take the first step because that one is ALWAYS the toughest.
Stay tuned later this week as I write about developing skills and how it relates to your fitness journey. This will also outline my approach with my clients and why it’s SO important for long-term success.
Also, please subscribe and sign up for your free 30-minute consultation. I can’t wait to help you achieve all your goals!
Happy Lifting, Les