Rylan, 37, from London, shares with Men’s health how learning to love exercise helped her lose weight, get fit, and become healthier physically and mentally.
I had been overweight for a long time, at least 10 years, and at my heaviest weight I weighed around 245 pounds. My busy lifestyle was a huge factor, lots of travel and entertainment combined with physical inactivity. I hated exercise. I also had no real idea of ââwhat I was putting in my body; two servings was standard for me. This has led to a number of health problems; I developed chronic gout, which can be extremely painful, had regular back pain, and my blood pressure was way too high. I was constantly short of breath, with an elevated resting heart rate.
My doctor, family and friends were all concerned and I knew I had to do something.
I started walking to work every day and tried a few short workouts. I hated him at first; I was so unfit, and it made me feel awful; I associated it with discomfort, pain, and feelings of shame when I was younger. But I kept going, trying not to think of big goals and stay in the moment, ignoring my negative thoughts. I celebrated the start and end of all activity, and it didn’t take long for me to start feeling real pleasure from endorphins. At one point I found out that I actually had research exercise more.
I started to track everything with my smartwatch: all my workouts and how many calories I was consuming and burning each day. When we entered detention in London, monitoring my daily calories and macronutrients also helped me feel in control when everything else around me was so uncertain.
When I started setting goals, I made sure to keep things realistic and achievable, like eating in a calorie deficit and seeing if I could get my weight below 220 pounds. One of the ways I kept my motivation was to find ways to turn exercise into something I could enjoy; Cardio dance classes became a big part of my weekly routine because it was fun and social. Exercising with others in a class also made me realize that I was not alone in this situation – having other people answer your questions and provide support can make a huge difference.
In 10 months, I ended up losing 77 pounds. I have managed to maintain my weight at 160 pounds, and now I am focusing on muscle growth. I don’t want to get too fat, but I want to build my strength. However, with strength training alone, I definitely started to see a reduction in my cardiovascular fitness level, so I always mix it up with cardio. I go to the gym 4 times a week to do some strength training, then also do 2 10K runs a week, or a few HIIT or cardio dance workouts. I also try to take 10,000 steps a day and do yoga at least once a week.
My other goals are to lose the last bit of fat around my belly – which I find difficult even with a body fat percentage of 12% – and start participating in some races. I actually have my first 10k run this weekend.
If you are just starting your own fitness journey, my advice is to start doing something about it. Whatever! Even while walking. But also start tracking and monitoring with an Apple Watch or something (ideally a smartwatch that you use for other things so that you wear it all the time). Then start setting smaller achievable goals and celebrate those wins when you hit them: either weight, distance / running pace goals, or just getting up and exercising. You should find a point where you enjoy the exercise and the process, and then you will really be at your own pace. This change of mind was really important to me and helped make this trip a long one. Another great thing is to mix up your exercise. Keep it interesting, try different things, and soon you will find the things that you like the most and that work the most for you.
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