I arguably have the coolest job in the world. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you: I work for a health and fitness company where I constantly get to learn all about the latest wellness practices and fitness trends directly from the experts. (Think wellness game changers like Bulletproof’s Dave Asprey, former “Biggest Loser” host Jillian Michaels, Jorge Cruise, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott of Tone It Up, and more.)
I also work with major fitness and health brands like Les Mills, Zumba, Precision Nutrition and Spartan to develop and curate compelling, informative content for 24Life—I am surrounded by amazing minds in the health and wellness world. What could be cooler than that?
Well, there is one thing I can think of.
One of my favorite things about my job—even more compelling perhaps than talking to leaders and experts in the wellness space—is interviewing 24 Hour Fitness members and team members and telling their amazing stories of physical and mental transformation.
Every time I do an interview and hear incredible stories of transformation and overcoming obstacles, I am constantly amazed and inspired. In fact, I like to think that the majority of my health and wellness knowledge is a tapestry woven together from the advice I’ve heard and tricks I’ve adopted from those stories over the last few years.
So I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you. Below are just a handful of the things I’ve learned from telling transformation stories on 24Life. These are consistent things I have heard across the board from everyone I’ve interviewed—things that are completely 100 percent doable by anyone, no matter where you’re at in your health and fitness journey.
“A lot of times, you overthink the result and you don’t start walking down the road to begin the journey. I have friends in fitness who buy all the supplements, get the perfect meal plan and then leave it on the shelf. Just go in the gym, and even if you do 20 minutes, it’s still something,” says social media influencer Christopher Matthews.
“You’ve just got to start that first exercise, and from there, it will keep you going,” says rock band lead singer Margarita Monet. “If you start doing it and it starts becoming a part of your routine, you will find that you won’t have to motivate yourself so hard because it’s just going to be a part of your routine and it’s going to make you feel better.”
Be kind to yourself
“I keep a ‘big picture’ mentality,” says mom and group fitness participant Rebecca Walden. “I’ve easily had days when I indulged and went over my daily caloric allotment or days when, for various reasons, I did not show up at the gym. But I don’t beat myself up about it. It’s what my week looks like, not one meal or even one day. Again, I’m focused on a lifestyle changed for good. If I have a glass or two of wine on occasion or eat fried shrimp a couple of times while we’re at the beach, I enjoy it immensely and refuse to fret over it.”
Set goals, but start small
“My best advice to someone starting off is to think small. Make a small adjustment in your routine. If you don’t go to the gym, make a commitment that you will go two times a week. Just add SOMETHING to what you are already doing. Your fitness journey starts with those steps,” says father and fitness enthusiast Kevin Dunn.
“If I can give any advice to anyone going through the same struggle of weight loss or thinking a task is too large to conquer, I would let them know to take it day by day and make small goals that are reachable,” says 24 Hour Fitness team member Francisco Lopez. “Even if it’s only losing 2 to 5 pounds or being able to do a single dip, you have to enjoy every step of the journey.”
It’s a lifestyle change
“The most challenging part was in the beginning, when I was full of brand-new motivation, eating faithfully, exercising hard and the scale did not budge,” Walden says. “I just refused to quit, believing in the process long term and focusing on this as a lifestyle changed for good—not a short-term solution. I told myself, ‘There is no finish line.’ It didn’t seem like deprivation, just a new way of living. After a few weeks, the scale really began to respond!”
“Little victories kept me going. I knew that I had to be in this for the long run, and mini-goals kept me going. If I only looked at the end product, I’d never be able to stay motivated because at the time, that was years away. Now it’s only months away. I still use the same mindset. Mini-goals!” says group fitness instructor Angel Rodriguez.
Consistency is key
“When you start a fitness journey, consistency is the first step. And it doesn’t just apply to fitness—it applies to anything,” personal trainer and 24 Hour Fitness team member Vinh Duong explains. “What I always tell my clients, and even my team members, is don’t focus too much on the nitty-gritty details—the workouts, the nutrition. Focus more on developing a pattern, some sort of habit to develop that consistency, because if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be able to stick with it. And that’s going to determine if you’re successful or not in whatever fitness goal you’re doing.”
“I know this is a long game. Life, itself, is a marathon. There’s no time limit on reaching your goals. If you miss a milestone, you get a whole new set of opportunities tomorrow. If you missed a physical accomplishment and just can’t seem to improve, ask for help. There are so many places for you to find help, from great trainers in the gym to online tutorials to asking your friends in the gym,” Dunn says.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe you have a long journey ahead or maybe it’s a short-term goal. You cannot reach it if you tell yourself all the ways you cannot get there,” says member Marla Tipton. “Stop making excuses for yourself. It’s super easy to do. I have done it my whole life up to this point. But the only person who can change your health is you. It can’t be done for you. Stop telling yourself why you can’t do your workouts. Take that energy and apply it to how you CAN fit it into your routine.”
“You can pretty much talk yourself into anything,” says personal trainer Michael Conol. “In my journey, it was about keeping a good, positive mindset and reminding myself that after all this time, I’m still lucky.”
“You can’t out-train an unhealthy mind,” social media influencer and powerlifter Cynthia Leu says. “And the older I get, the more I realize taking care of yourself is so much more than just physical.”
“It’s not about the numbers. Even when they lose a certain percentage of body fat or they make their weight-loss goal, even if [the body] is changing but [the mind] isn’t, nothing’s going to change,” personal trainer Nikka Saadat says. “I hate to say it, but as a trainer, it’s almost more important to work on the mindset than anything else because how you feel, the way you think about yourself is how you’re going to feel about yourself and nobody’s going to make you happy.”
Do what you love
“At the end of the day, as long as you’re happy and you’re not harming anybody, just do what makes you happy,” Matthews says. “A lot of people don’t do that because they’re worried about the naysayers or the ‘haters,’ and those are the people who wish they did what you do.”
“If you find something in fitness that you enjoy and it makes you feel good, then what else really matters?” Saadat says. “Nowadays, people think that there’s one way to be fit. That’s just not the case. The reality is [that] whatever you love to do, that’s what you’re going to do. So finding what that is, that’s your best bet to achieving any of your fitness goals.”
Fitness is a gift to yourself
“I feel like it really is a promise you make to yourself,” says member Denise Gee. “Just remind yourself that you’re lucky to give your body this opportunity for change. Be thankful.”
“I believe that physical activity is a right: We should be able to have enough time—30 minutes several times a week—to be able to maintain our health,” says personal trainer Glenn Anaiscourt.
“All of us have a choice on how we age,” says member Robert Hamilton Owens. “How do you want to go out? Do you want to go out sickly or weak? We have 24 hours a day; give an hour a day to invest in your health and then enjoy the other 23. And if you invest in yourself in your 40s, 50s, 60s, you can live better.”
“We only get one life to live and we can’t look backward, but what we decide to do with today will determine our tomorrow,” Lopez says.
Focus on the feeling, not the physical
“When you’re measuring your progress by a number on the scale or what you look like in the mirror, even when you hit your goal weight or you feel like you look good, it’s just never going to be enough,” Leu says.
Failure is part of the process
“The first thing I do is remind myself that failures are inherent in the process of anything we do. Failure is how we learn, and it’s perfectly normal for these things to happen, and we learn from them and we grow from them,” Anaiscourt says.
“I tell young people I speak to, ‘Don’t be afraid of failing.’ To me, losing at something in life doesn’t make you a loser,” says social influencer and motivational speaker Rohan Murphy. “Failing at something in life doesn’t make you a failure. What makes you those things is being a quitter and giving up on something—not having that courage to take that initial risk to reach greatness.”
There are no excuses
“My life motto is very simple, very straightforward: no excuses. You want something out of life? Go get it. Go earn it. Go achieve it,” Murphy says.
Enjoy the process
“You have to enjoy the process. If you get to the destination and still don’t think it’s all it was going to be, what’s the point?” Saadat says.
Photo credit: LeoPatrizi, Getty Images