That was seven years ago.
After I flipped the script on my mindset and accepted that lasting change takes time, I slowly lost 75 pounds. Over the course of a year, I put one foot in front of the other to make small, but meaningful changes that I knew would last a lifetime.
And while getting fit is a journey unique to each of us, it sure doesn't hurt to get a little bit of inspiration and advice from someone who's "been there, done that!"
Check out the 14 fitness tips that helped me lose 75 pounds and keep it off.
Find your motivation to change.1 of 15
Let's face it: Change is scary. And getting motivated to change will only happen when the benefits far outweigh any sense of security that comes from staying the same.
For me, that change was prompted by a routine cholesterol test that revealed alarmingly high numbers. My dad passed away from a heart attack as a result of chronic high cholesterol, so I knew I had to take action in order to extend, and quite possibly, save my life.
Take baby steps.2 of 15
Once you've decided to make a change, it's important to not do too much too quickly. If you set a lofty goal, try breaking it up into smaller tasks that take less time to accomplish.
For instance, if your overall goal is to run a half marathon (my first big goal!), you must first start with weekly goals of shorter runs and slowly increase your mileage. Mini goals help contribute to our feeling of success and will help you stick with your routine.
Set a date.3 of 15
After I found my motivation change, I signed up for a local 5K and started training. Having a realistic, yet challenging goal pushed me to get out of the house and hit the pavement. Once I accomplished this initial milestone, I set my sights on a half marathon six months down the road.
Work out early.4 of 15
I know the best time to work out is the time you will actually get it done, but there is something to be said about exercising first thing in the morning. My alarm clock went off (and still does) at 4:30 a.m. in order to fit in my workout, get my kids ready for childcare and get ready for work.
Yes, it takes some serious getting used to and a whole lot of commitment on your part, but exercising early was the single most important ingredient for my weight loss.
Make fitness a part of your day.5 of 15
Whether you have to schedule your workout into your phone, write it on the family calendar or put it on 10 post-it notes that you stick all over the house and office, you must commit to making time each day for your health. If the idea of a 30 to 60 minute block of time has you in a panic, take three, 10-minute walks instead.
Fitting in time to exercise with a newborn and a two-year old was challenging at first, but instead of approaching fitness with an "all-or-nothing" mentality, I started small. Each day I would commit to three, 10-minute walks. As the weight started coming off and my body could handle more, I began jogging up the driveway three times a day with my kids in a double stroller—talk about a killer hill repeat workout! Remember, fitness is what you make of it.
Work out multiple times a week.6 of 15
If you really want to see results and continue to make progress over time, you need to commit to working out at least four to five days a week.
When I started my weight loss journey, I committed to three days a week and slowly worked my way up to five days a week of strength training, cardio (mostly running), core work (including Pilates) and stretching.
Create an exercise space at home.7 of 15
One statement I hear more than any other is: "I want to exercise, but... I don't have time." Fitting in exercise is a choice. If getting to the gym or outside for a run just seems like too much to take on, why not work out at home? When done correctly, bodyweight exercises are some of the most challenging movements you can do to whip your body into shape.
Regularly switch it up.8 of 15
One workout plan can be effective, but it won't work forever. I changed my workouts every four weeks during my year of weight loss. If I had been running a lot, I cut back and replaced a day with biking. In the weight room, I changed the intensity, amount of reps and exercises. If I had been lifting heavy for a month, I added in some high-rep work with lower weights and full-body circuits.
By switching up your routine, you will challenge your body in new ways and continue to see results.
Focus on weight training.9 of 15
Many women are hesitant to lift weights for fear of bulking up or seeing the number on the scale get higher. But here's the thing: Weight lifting is key for sustainable weight loss.
Aim for three days a week of strength training and include full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises, which are movements that work multiple muscles at a time. Examples include squats with a shoulder press, deadlift with a bent-over row, lunges with a lateral raise, push-ups and plank with a one-arm row.
Work in some high intensity exercise.10 of 15
HIIT is all the rage, and for good reason. High Intensity Interval Training increases the intensity of a workout without increasing the volume. In fact, including HIIT workouts at least two times a week will help you cut back on the total time spent exercising. Doing high intensity intervals (think 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) will help you increase your overall calorie burn and train your body to be more efficient.
Find an app.11 of 15
Finding the best fitness apps out there isn't as easy as it may sound. There are hundreds of apps designed for fitness and anything else that might need tracking, and I ended up trying dozens of them. Here are the five I stuck with in my quest to lose 75 pounds: Sworkit, Couch to 5K, Runkeeper and, most recently, I have fallen in love with the Tabata training—a type of HIIT workout—on the ACTIVEx app.
Podcasts and Netflix (or other online streaming) are also great motivators to get your cardio done. Pick a TV series and only watch it while grinding out the time on your favorite cardio machine. I also love listening to podcasts while running outside. My current favorite is Serial.
Try an old school track workout.12 of 15
If I had to pick one workout that produced consistent results for me, this would be it. Find a track (preferably with a set of stadium stairs) and perform the following workout:
- Jog two laps around the track
- Run four sets of stairs (up to the top and right back down equals one set)
-Jog one lap around the track
- Perform three sets of walking lunges on the straightaway of the track
- Run four sets of stairs
- Perform two sets of squat jumps (10 reps each) alternated with two sets of push-ups (10 reps each) and two sets of planks (30 to 60 seconds each).
Repeat this circuit for the desired amount of time. I started with 30 minutes and worked my way up to 60 minutes.
Make time for stretching.13 of 15
Stretching after you work out will help your body recover and ready your muscles for the next workout. Focus on dynamic stretches before a workout and static stretches after a workout.
I also found that incorporating yoga and Pilates helped me push through quite a few plateaus and helped my body recover from high intensity training sessions.
Don't ignore your core.14 of 15
One of my favorite one-liners from my Pilates class is, "Belly button to spine," which means, engage your core. Since the muscles in your core are incorporated into almost every move you make throughout the day, it's crucial that you spend time strengthening them.
In addition to always engaging my core while running and weight lifting, I also spent 15 minutes each day specifically on core work.