Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Post: Success! Wedding day readiness, achieved.

I love my job. For a variety of reasons, I get to work with people to help them better their lives. Some want to lose weight, some want to train for a sport, some want to reduce back pain, some want to just feel better. Erica, a client and friend from Fitness Success in Yarmouth, Maine, worked with me in an effort to get ready for her September 2012 wedding. She was determined to look her best for the most important day of her life, and I was determined to help her get to where she wanted to be.

After her wedding, I asked Erica if she would like to write about her journey in a guest post for my blog. Here is her story, in her own words. Enjoy, because this is truly awesome...
I've always been in what I considered to be "decent" shape. I'm naturally small-boned, and while I've always been fairly active, it's been awhile since I've been really "hardcore" about fitness. Being relatively thin for most of my life, I never worried much about what I ate, and "healthy" foods weren't usually my first choice--I am one of those people who loves carbs (grilled cheese and pizza are my favorites) and I love anything chocolate. Salad was something I'd try to eat now and then, but I never really enjoyed it, and since I didn't think I had to in order to look good, I didn't push myself to eat it too often. Same with exercise--I did it when I wanted to, because I enjoyed it, but didn't usually push myself if I didn't feel like it.

Fast forward to my early 30s. While not overweight by any means, I could sense the effects of a gradually slowing metabolism and a family history of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension threatening to creep up on me. I began to notice little things, like thigh fat and flabby triceps, that weren't there before. Although no one could call me fat, I could tell that I wasn't at my physical best, and that bothered me--especially when I got engaged and started planning my wedding. I knew I was capable of looking my best with some hard work, but I also knew I would need some help to get there. A full time job, long commute, and busy lifestyle meant that I wasn't always motivated to exercise at the end of the day. 

I had taken a few circuit-style fitness classes with Nate Priest at Fitness Success in Yarmouth. During one such class, I won a competition for most improved from the beginning to the end of the 8 week class. My prize: A gift certificate to a natural food store and 3 personal training sessions with Nate! I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to have this opportunity a few months before my wedding. Nate asked what I wanted to work on most, and I was very clear: I wanted to improve the part of me that would show in my wedding dress-- my arms! During my one-on-one sessions with Nate, he designed 3 different workouts for me, focusing mostly on arms/upper body, but also working in some lower body, core, and cardio. The workouts were fast-paced, easy to follow, and actually fun! I aimed for 3-4 workouts per week, following the routines developed by Nate. In between, I went to Zumba classes, did a bit of running, and hiked. However, my primary exercise for the last few weeks leading up to the wedding was the circuit workouts. At first I did them in the gym in my apartment building, but then realized I could do them right in my apartment using nothing more than 5 and 8 pound dumbbells, a yoga mat, and a chair for those killer but oh-so-effective triceps dips. I could even watch TV at the same time!

The key to the workouts was the timing--my favorite workouts involved doing each exercise for 30 or 35 seconds, rather than a certain number of reps. This way, I didn't have to "force" myself to do a certain number (which usually results in me stopping the exercise before I should)--instead, I just did each exercise until the alarm on my phone went off, signaling the end of the 30-second interval. The exercises weren't easy, but I had a clear goal in mind that kept me going: I wanted to look great in the wedding photos! All the while, I remembered Nate's encouragement -- "you're doing great, nice work" -- while at the same time not letting me off the hook when I was tired -- "come on, you can do this!".  I haven't met many fitness instructors who can strike that balance between motivating you to push yourself, but not making you feel inadequate if you can't do something -- but Nate definitely has that skill as a trainer, and it makes a big difference.

Oh, and about those carb cravings -- it was funny, but once I started working out more, I actually felt more motivated to eat better -- and strangely, I found myself craving salad instead of pizza! I didn't do anything radical --I just made small changes that were easy to maintain but added up to a much better diet. Instead of getting a hot dog at work, I'd get a salad. When we went out to eat, I would ask to substitute a vegetable instead of pasta. Rather than using the full-fat half-and-half in my coffee at work, I brought my own fat-free coconut milk to keep in the fridge. When I ate dessert (yes, I still ate dessert), I would put my fork down between bites so that I could really taste what I was eating. It stopped me from eating so fast, and ended up with me eating less. I didn't worry much about the number on the scale -- in total, I think I only lost the extra 4-5 pounds I had put on--but it was enough. My muscles were back. And on my wedding day, I was perfectly happy with the way I looked. 

If you're looking to go from being in "decent" shape (or even bad shape!) to being really fit, here are the steps I would recommend based on my experience: 1) Set a goal with a timeline -- whether it's a major life event, a race you sign up for, or a just-for-fun photo shoot -- something to you want to look and feel great for. 2) Make exercise fun -- try varying what you do so that you don't get bored. Mix in weight training with running, dance, hiking, or whatever you enjoy. 3) Follow a routine --treat exercise just like a doctor's appointment -- it's just as important! 4) If you need a jump-start, team up with a fitness professional who has the experience, knowledge, and personality to help set you on the right track to getting healthy. That's what Nate did for me, and I'll always be grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment