I played sports my whole life, so I didn't immediately put on weight. I joined the Army ROTC in college and was forced to run every day and this kept my weight at an OK weight for the first year. (I say OK as I was still overweight, just not obese yet) After I quit the ROTC, my weight ballooned.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my sister started losing weight. She joined a gym and went all the time. I continued to eat every day and witnessed my sister shrinking and enjoying life in a new way. She was enjoying exercise like I used to. She was taking step, yoga, spin, and bootcamp. She was addicted to exercise and I was intrigued. I had my daughter but went back to my life as normal. I still didn't exercise and I continued to eat.
I obviously didn't learn enough in those 4 months as I returned to my old ways while I was pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted and I stopped exercising. I told myself, I was only pregnant for 9 months, I would be fine. I delivered my 2nd daughter and again struggled to get back on track. Four months went by and I was only down 20 pounds from my original 45 that I had lost. My halfway doing things was not going to get me to a healthy weight.
It was at this time that I watched the Boston Marathon on TV and decided I was going to run that race one day. I knew, that the current Robin could never do it. I knew I needed to change my life in order to run marathons and I was finally ready to do it. I started running the next day, joined Weight Watchers, and I registered for my first marathon. Nine months later, I was 90 pounds lighter and running a marathon. I was addicted to marathons and loved being a runner.
So here are 7 steps I recommend to you in order to start your fitness journey as I did:
- Reward yourself for non-scale victories. The scale doesn't always tell the truth. This is a huge thing that is hard to accept. The scale will not always reflect your hard work so recognize the other things that have come as a result of your hard work. This could be dropping a pant size, fitting your towel around you for the first time, or running up a flight of stairs. These are huge accomplishments and you should celebrate them, I did.
- Pick a long term goal and stick to it. I chose the Disney Marathon and paid the $100+ entry fee. I knew that if I skipped a workout, I was only hurting myself. I finished my first marathon in 5:12 and didn't miss any workouts. I knew I had a time limit at Disney and knew that if I didn't train properly, I may not make that time limit.
- Get fitted for running shoes. A lot of running injuries are a result of being in the wrong shoe. Go to a running store and get fitted. And, yes, I know how intimidating going to a running store is. I have been running for 5 years and still don't think I belong there, but they are really helpful. Running stores are excited to see another person interested in fitness and are passionate about helping you get started.
- Research your new sport online. When I first started running, I joined the Runners World forums and read them everyday in order to soak up all the knowledge of the experienced runners. I read race reports and answers to everyone's questions. Now there are so many other outlets that you are flooded with information between Twitter, blogs, Daily Mile, etc. Soak it all in. Not only will you learn something, it makes you more excited to get up the next day to do something.
- Find a training partner. This can be difficult, but I promise you will be so much happier if you do. During training for my first marathon, my husband and I did most of our runs together. Now I run with my sister and with all my friends I have met from Twitter. I look forward to my weekly run dates, even if it means 3 hours on a trail where I am nearly falling over at the end, at least I had good conversation the whole time. :)
- Fuel your body. This is another thing that has been hard for me to accept but have learned the hard way. My goal was originally to lose weight. You can't lose weight if you aren't properly fueling your body. My weight will plateau during weight loss, if I starve it. Feed yourself and your runs or fitness activity will be much more successful.
- Pick short term goals in order to not lose sight of what you are doing. This can be losing a smaller amount of weight from your total you want to lose. This can also be running a smaller distance race. My first race I ever ran was a 5 mile race. I did this 3 months into my training and it was HARD. I finished that race wondering how I could ever run a marathon but I also was so excited that I RAN a 5 mile race. It was a short term goal that I was able to tick off much faster than my marathon that was still months away. Every training cycle I pick a few races that keep me excited to race and I can also gauge if my training is working.