What happened when I made health a priority.

Recently, after the New Year, I had a realization that it was time to do something about my weight. I had tried before but I was always so busy with school and work that it made it almost impossible to get into a routine. I needed to make health a priority.

While attending college on a part-time basis and working full time for a decade, I was able to obtain two degrees. After I began graduate school, though, I decided that the best thing would probably be for me to take a semester off so that I could focus on my health.

I had finally realized that although my education is important, my health definitely needed to take precedence – and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole life.

Education on Health and Wellness

Just like the average American, I realized that I really didn’t know much about nutrition and dietetics. I figured that the best thing to do was to educate myself on the topic and learn as much as I could in order to help my battle against obesity.

I found an article on the FFC website titled Top 10 Registered Dietitian-Approved Nutrition Books & Documentaries and started there. I watched all of them in one weekend (and re-watched the ones I had already seen as a refresher) and learned three very important things.

  • First, sugar is a real killer to the American diet and it’s in 80% of the food you find at the grocery store.
  • Second, there’s a difference between good carbs and bad carbs and it all comes down to how they rate on the glycemic index.
  • Third, a calorie is not just a calorie. You can track your calories all you want but it doesn’t matter because the calories you get from eating vegetables will take you way further than the calories you get from eating bread.

This all made me really self-aware of everything I put in my mouth and I started reading food packages to find that things I thought were healthy (like protein bars, sports drinks or even healthy labeled cereals) were loaded with a ton of sugar and carbs.

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This is what happened when I made my health a priority FFCThe Benefits of Weight Training

Again, just like the average American, I assumed that in order to lose weight I had to focus on cardio, but that turned out to be incorrect.

I started meeting with FFC South Loop trainer Angelina Iovino for personal training sessions, and she told me flat out that if I focused on cardio only I would not lose weight. That’s when I learned about strength training. We met consistently two times a week for a couple of months and I started seeing results almost immediately.

She taught me how to use all of the machines at the gym I would have never approached had I been working out on my own. I also learned some pretty cool workout routines that I would later practice at home with a medicine ball, a barbell and some free weights.

Every session we would start off with doing a 3 to 5 minute warm-up on the rower, the stepper or the treadmill. Then, we would get into a doing an exercise circuit that involved a set of reps on three different machines and then repeating a couple of times. The last 5 minutes of our workouts together were spent stretching me out so that I wasn’t sore the next day. Although I don’t meet with Angelina anymore, I do believe that I learned some valuable information that I would have never ever picked up on my own.

Keep On Keepin’ On

Today, I follow a gym regimen that I have written out entirely. I’ve broken down every miniscule detail – ranging from what days I’m going to the gym (versus what days I’m going to let my body rest) to what cardio warm up I intend to do and for how long.

For every workout, I have two different exercise circuits that either focus on the lower body, upper body or whole body, just depending on the day. My current read is one of the books from the FFC article titled Salt Sugar and Fat by Michael Moss, but I definitely plan to read all of the articles book recommendations in due time.

When it comes to fitness, I feel like there is just so much to know. It’s definitely a continual learning process I’ll have to stick with as time goes on. “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” I can’t help but be grateful for the support that I’ve received from everyone everywhere. Most importantly, I’m grateful to FFC for creating the infrastructure I need in order to accomplish my fitness goals.

My Advice to You

In the overstressed world that we live in today, it has become extremely hard to focus on completing any fitness goal. In a fast-moving culture where everything is available almost instantaneously, we’ve forgotten how to practice the process because we’re too focused on the end result.

This sort of mindset will only lead to disappointment because the initial inspiration is so easily wilted away. In order to combat this, you need to learn how to practice mindfulness and living in the present moment. Only after you do this will you acquire the discipline and patience needed in order to let go of your expectation for immediate results.

The key to completing any goal is to exercise extreme resilience. Understand that nothing worth working for comes easily and it’s most important to keep on going when all you really want to do is give up. Interestingly enough, it’s at this very moment that you gain the mental strength mastery needed in order to keep on keepin’ on.

Post written by FFC South Loop member Christina C.

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