One thing that I have always said is.. I wish I would have discovered this sooner. Man, I would have been badass if I was just smart enough to have learned how to eat right, had understood the benefits of building a lean body, and embraced a fit lifestyle earlier. It is so fun to come across someone who has and is making the most of it! I bow to Taylor who is not only strong and beautiful but sassy and smart and intent on her goal.
Let’s face it..eating differently is a challenge. Giving up those foods that we have come to know as delicious is hard. Keeping your commitment to your training schedule can be a balancing act. NOTHING is as difficult however as justifying it and defending your decisions. The social aspect of this change is by far the biggest hurdle.
Meet Taylor.. I love this girl’s style! She knows what she wants.. she is committed to it.. she independent and strong enough to step away from the crowd and go for it! I’m cheering for her all the way! 🙂
College, like so many others, hit me hard. I swam varsity swimming in high school. I stayed active and stayed in shape. I never had good eating habits, but with youth and competitive swimming, it would seem that I did not really have to in order to keep my waistline. The introduction of being able to drive and getting a part-time job is where I started putting on the pounds. Anytime I wanted, I had expendable income for all the greasy, fried food that is offered through restaurants. When college started, since I would commute every day to campus, I would eat out for lunch, as well as eat a couple snacks, and take-out for dinner.
I gained upwards of 40 pounds in 3 years. I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes anymore. I was not happy. I was poor physical health, and poor mental health. I wanted to lose weight; I just did not want to put the work in. The part that really made me realize this is when someone I knew in high school told my friend that I “had really let myself go.” In the spring semester of 2012, I studied abroad in Japan. Eating the whole, unprocessed Japanese foods in combination with walking miles every day, I started to shed these pounds. It gave me a new outlook. Suddenly, a healthier and happier person was emerging. I even picked up running when I was over there.
I returned home in July 2012, to not only a well-traveled but a more determined person. I stopped eating fast food, ate out at restaurants a lot less, picked up running and even bought a dumbbell set. After seeing how serious I was becoming about health, my parents even got me a gym membership! The more inches I lost, the happier I was becoming. For the first time in my life, I had confidence! I started strength training a bit when I got that gym membership, but without some guidance, I never really pushed myself. I still found myself with the lighter weights, doing the same exercises—and no real heavy lifts.
I kept that up until I graduated and moved to Rock Hill in June 2013. After a few months went by, I found myself a local gym that my boyfriend works out in, called Brutal Iron Gym. I loved the atmosphere of the supporting people and the “I’m-here-to-lift-stop-talking” attitude. Once I started doing the heavy lifts, seeing my numbers increase, gaining muscle definition, and losing inches, I become addicted. Now, here I am, confidence through the roof (most days), preparing for my first bodybuilding show in August.
However, not everything goes smoothly. I tell people my story and most people look at me and retort, “So you are cutting back on drinking? I couldn’t do that.” I lose a whole social aspect when trying to focus on my health. A lot of people appreciate the fact that they can use me as a DD, but not many people enjoy being around sober people when they are trying to have a good time. Thankfully, my boyfriend and I are in this together, so we can find activities that promote a healthy living, and avoid temptations. This can be mentally exhausting. Every weekend we have to fight the battle to not go out with friends and drink. Even worse, are those free dinners from work that are not “diet friendly.”
I find that the mental part of being healthy is way more challenging than the physical part. I can go to the gym four times a week; I can push my body to the limits. That part is easy. The part when I have to look in the mirror every day and tell myself that I am giving up the social norms of drinking and partying as a twenty-two year old for a healthy, current and future self is exhausting. Even though the process can be slow, seeing the physical changes helps motivate the mental desires. I long for the day when I can wear crop tops in public and have the confidence to own it. That keeps me mentally motivated. That, and I told everyone I was competing, so now I can’t back down! Every day I keep this up and get a step closer to my goal, my confidence in myself grows. As cheesy as this sounds, my overall performance in the gym, work, and general life habits are becoming better. Boosting my confidence in my physical appearance, in combination with knowing that I put my mind to this goal and I’m sticking with it, radiates throughout my entire life now. My work performance and attitude have greatly improved; even things that were terrifying before, such as speaking in front of a crowd, I can do with a lot more ease. I have more energy, and I am just a generally better person to be around. I probably come off as cocky now, but it isn’t arrogance I emit. For the first time in my life, I am proud of my accomplishments and drive. Some people can be quick to judge you, without knowing where you came from, or where you are going. That is fine; I find it motivating.