Y’all. You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to put together this blog post! (Orrr maybe you do if you’ve been following me on Instagram stories and have been hearing me talk about this post for months…) Life has been crazy lately with taking up a part-time position working for my church (it’s only temporary while my friend’s out on maternity leave), beginning the house hunting process, and a few other random, distracting things.
Anyway – Get to the point, Erin. Workouts. I’ve been working out for a full year now, have learned a lot along the way, and am now ready to share a little bit about why I got started, how I got started, and what I do at the gym. My hope is that by sharing a little more about my “fitness journey”, I might be able to inspire those that are hesitant to get started working out, encourage those that maybe feel stuck or frustrated with working out, or provide helpful tips and ideas to those already on their fitness journey.
|| My Fitness Background ||
Just to give y’all a little insight about where I’ve come from (“I’ve been working out all my life” vs. “I’ve never stepped foot in a gym”), I figured I’d give a little of my background so you can better understand my journey.
I was a gymnast from age 2-11 (made it to Level 8, hey-o!), played volleyball and ran track from 6th-10th grade, and was a cheerleader from 6th-12th grade. All of those sports required a good amount of conditioning, so I definitely grew up healthy and active. In college, I played intramurals here and there, but going to the gym wasn’t really my thing. After marrying Jay in 2011, I didn’t go to the gym or do any type of classes until 2016.
In 2016, I decided to ease myself back into exercise by taking yoga classes at my gym. I ended up absolutely loving yoga and went to 3 classes a week for a year. Yoga is all about flexibility, stability, and strength, and after a year of yoga, I was definitely feeling way more confident in my health and fitness. I guess you could say yoga was my gateway into weight training. I would always tell Jay how much stronger and better I felt about myself because I was more flexible, had better core strength, and my lower back pain was finally easing up after a few years of it constantly hurting. I remember him telling me that if I was enjoying feeling strong just from yoga, then I should give weight training a try because he bet that I’d really love it. And in January of 2017 I gave weight training a chance!
|| Why I Started Exercising & Weight Training ||
I started exercising (beginning with my yoga classes for a year) because I simply noticed that my 27-year-old body wasn’t the same as my 17-year-old body (i.e., crazy lower back pain, feeling more tired more often, and just an overall “Oh, my body isn’t going to magically be healthy like it somehow was when I was a teenager”). Anyone else with me? You just wake up one morning with terrible back pain and think, “Is this my life now?” Ha!
I’ve also always known that I want to be a healthy adult for the rest of my life. I want to be a confident wife. I want to be an active mom. I want to be a healthy retiree. I’ve always said that, but I realized one day that I wasn’t exactly doing anything to achieve those things. So I decided to get my bottom in gear!
As far as the “why” behind my weight training – Like I mentioned above, I enjoyed feeling strong and healthy from yoga. But while I loved my classes, a year of yoga was basically just maintaining the muscle I had developed, but wasn’t really building much muscle beyond that. Jay told me that he’d help me find a simple workout plan to get me started that wasn’t too intimidating and to try it out for a month and evaluate. If I wasn’t feeling stronger, more confident, and in better overall health by the end of the month, then I didn’t have to keep going. And, well, the rest is history 🙂
|| How I Got Started with Weight Training & What I Did at the Gym ||
On Christmas of 2016, Jay bought me the book Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body and I was pumped! We had talked about getting me started with a clear and easy workout plan, and this book was the perfect kick-off for me. On January 1st, I was at the gym with all of the other New Years resolution-ers ready to get started.
I’ll start by saying that the book’s title might sound a little funny, but let’s face it: Most of us would love to have a better butt and body, amiright?! And it’s just SO GOOD. I seriously can’t recommend this book enough. I’m obviously not going to list out all of the exact workouts, but the book is so thorough in laying out the science behind working out, how you should be eating, a detailed 12-week workout plan (2 of them, actually), a glossary with all of the terms, and an exercise index that provides pictures and details the exact form for each exercise listed.
There are basically two workout plan options: Beginner and advanced. I obviously started with the beginner plan, which is a 12-week plan where he has you working out 3 days a week. For each day, he lists the equipment you’ll need, the exact exercise with pictures, and how many sets and reps to do. He laid every exercise out so clearly that it really helped me overcome any intimidation I had being at the gym. Here’s a preview of the first half of Weeks 1-4’s workout so you can see how he structured the book (there’s more to this day’s workout, FYI; I’m just showing you a preview):
Once you’ve completed weeks 1-4 of the plan, you move on to weeks 5-8 and then 9-12. After I finished those 12 weeks, I felt SO CONFIDENT. Confident in myself, in my strength, and in knowing where everything was at the gym and how to use most of it. And I was ready to start the 12-week advanced workout plan. So, if you’ve been counting, this book got me through 24 weeks, or the first half of the year.
After those 24 weeks, I felt like a rockstar – stronger, more confident, and overall really healthy. From there, Jay helped me put together a workout plan of my own. The book had helped me build muscle and also taught me the types of exercises I did and didn’t enjoy, so we crafted a workout to fit my preferences and goals. And (fun fact for those new to working out) it’s always good to switch up your workouts every few months to challenge your body in new ways. I’ll be sharing that specific workout plan with y’all over the next few weeks in a series of little videos which I’m super excited about. But for the sake of brevity and not overwhelming y’all with everything at once, I figured I’d keep this post to the basic “Why and How I Started Working Out”.
|| Practical Tips for Getting Started ||
If you’ve been considering starting to work out this year, here are a few practical tips and helpful ideas of things I did to start me off on a strong foot:
- Take “before” photos. I’m not planning to share these photos online, but I’m so glad I took them. It’s pretty cool to see where you started and how far you’ve come. For me, my journey hasn’t been about weight loss or what number I see on the scale, it’s been about seeing muscle gains and improving my strength. And it’s really neat to put some of my flexing photos side by side to see the gains I’ve made throughout this past year. Most people don’t want to take “before” photos because they’re usually not happy with their starting point, but I would highly recommend taking them if you’re planning on committing to your workouts for the year because, no matter what your goals are, you’ll definitely start seeing some sort of results!
- Schedule your workouts into your week and protect that time. First things first, you have to purposefully schedule your workouts into your week. But going even further, you need to protect that time. Back when I first started my yoga classes, I didn’t protect that time and would schedule other things during that hour if they randomly came up because I saw that time as “optional”. But I quickly learned that if I didn’t mark that time as “busy” in my calendar, that I’d end up scheduling other things in its place and would never actually get around to exercising. Don’t make that mistake. Section off that time and protect it!
- Start simple. I made the mistake of looking at one too many fitness blogs and fitness blogger videos before I got started with weight training, and I got really overwhelmed. Because, the truth is, there are literally thousands upon thousands of programs and exercises you can do… and that fact paralyzed me. Don’t do that to yourself! Find a simple workout plan that has basic exercises that aren’t intimidating for you and that aren’t overly complicated (I still highly recommend this book for that!). Once you’ve grown in strength and confidence, then you can move up to those crazy exercises you see the fitness bloggers doing. But until then, start simple with your routine.
|| Why I’m Sharing These Fitness Posts ||
I’ll be honest – There are a lot of fitness bloggers out there that are way more qualified than I am to be sharing fitness tips and routines. And I, myself, follow a few of them for my own inspiration and motivation. So why am I even sharing my fitness journey then? Well, I’ve always desired for Happily Howards to be a place of encouragement, inspiration, and positivity by sharing my life. And fitness has become a part of my life and is now a source of confidence and positivity for me personally. So my hope isn’t to annoy anyone by changing up my content to now include fitness (I promise I won’t be annoying with it, btw!) nor is it to be braggy in any way. I simply hope to share something that’s become a big part of my life, inspire those that are wanting to incorporate fitness into their own lives, and encourage overall confidence and health in my readers. So if you’ve been interested in upping your fitness game this year, I hope you’ll follow along and that my blog (and Instagram) can be a source of helpfulness for your own fitness journey!
|| SHOP MY OUTFIT ||
Lastly, just so y’all can be keeping an eye out, here are the rest of the blog posts in this workout series that I’ll be posting over the next two months or so:
- How I Stay Motivated
- My Current Workouts (with exact exercises via video, reps, & helpful tips) – Day 1 (Chest & Shoulders), Day 2 (Legs), & Day 3 (Back, Biceps, & Triceps)
- What’s in My Gym Bag
- My Workout Style (with recommended places to shop for cute outfits, outfit inspo, and gym must-haves)
Are there any other workout-related posts you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments!