Someone asked me the other day “How does someone like that (meaning my old self who had never exercised regularly and was horribly over weight) turn into someone who can hold a conversation with me about fitness and teach me something new in the process?”

(Yeahhhh, did you see that?  I taught them something new!  Granted it was the existence of a little thing called a foam roller but hey, I taught them something new!)

This person truly wanted an answer though and while my first response, my very first instinct had been to say “I don’t know.” I knew I obviously knew the answer to the question or I wouldn’t have been in the position to have been asked the question.  My mind totally wasn’t working properly though.  I mean, I was feeling pretty darned great.  Being asked a question like this allowed me to step out of my “Oh, I’m not doing anything that great” mentality and instead see myself as, well…. pretty kick ass.  I mostly don’t see myself this way and so when I do, I tend to live it up.

I never did answer the question.  The conversation was interrupted and I let the question die.  (Mainly because I was doing a happy dance in my head because I seemed soooo incredibly awesome for a few minutes!)

In truth, even though some part of me knows the answer to the question, I’m not sure I really know the answer on a conscious level.  Oh, I’ve come up with a multitude of answers which makes me believe it’s a combination of everything I’ve done instead of one thing which was the ticket.  I’ll share some of my answers with you (and I’ll try not to ramble as I do it – yes,  that will be difficult).

  • First: Taking baby steps.  I didn’t start out wanting to participate in a duathlon.  (That sickness came later.)  I started out wanting to lose 50 lbs in a year and to run a 5k with my sister.  I didn’t even necessarily believe I’d actually try to run a 5k.  It seemed like a distant and impossible task at the time.  What I really wanted was to feel capable again.  (You know, capable of maybe doing yard work without it kicking my butt or capable of doing things life threw at me.)
  • Second: Setting Goals.  I’ve set so many goals since I started this journey.  I’m a bit addicted to goal setting now.  I  haven’t always attained my goals (I am not ashamed to throw out one goal I’ve made in order to go after one I feel is more aggressive/better.)  The thing about goals is, I set my first few pretty low.  I felt a bit like a cheater at the time but I wanted to be sure I could achieve my goals.  In fact, once I had a consistent work out routine going, one of my goals was to adhere to my work out routine.  I was part of a work out challenge thread on 3 Fat Chicks On a Diet (see  my links) and my “challenge” most of the time didn’t involve me doing MORE, it involved me doing what I usually did, but keeping it up all month long.  Easy goals which gradually turned harder and harder.
  • Third: I found support.  I cannot rave about 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet enough.  Though I rarely visit the forums there anymore, finding a community of people going through the same things and struggling with the same things really gave me strength.  I formed some wonderful friendships on there (You’re all familiar with my girl crush Rita, yes?  Met her there.)  My sister also was a great body of support.  See, to do this right… you sort of have to re-learn how to live your life.  So many bad lifestyle habits, bad eating habits, bad mindset habits all must be replaced AND you have to learn new things to replace them.  Well, you’re going to want to talk about things and the people around you not going through the same things, well, they’re going to get tired of you talking about it all the time.  People who know what you’re going through… well, they rock in terms of support.  So find support!
  • Fourth: I stopped listening to what worked for everyone else and found what worked for me. I didn’t want to go on a diet with a name as in my experience they don’t work for the long haul for me. I wound up calorie counting, educated myself on the calories in foods and found a way of eating which worked for me.  Many people go on a 1200 calorie diet.   In fact, I had this recommended to me plenty of times.  For me, I didn’t want to ever eat at a calorie count below what I could sustain for the rest of my life and I’m sorry I don’t believe I can do that.  I started out at 1800 calories and I kept it there the whole time.  Sure there were days when I ate less and days when I ate more (yes, life happens) but my goal was always 1800.  1200 may work for people.  1800 worked for me.  I also ate strangely, consuming 1000 of those calories for dinner  (I like a big dinner, ok?) and splitting the other 800 up in small bits during the day.  It worked for me. You have to find what works for you.  And it will take trial and error.
  • Fifth: When I started feeling more capable… I started to allow myself to dream up goals. I brainstormed things I’d always wanted to do but never felt I could… or recently considered doing but felt crazy wanting to do them.  In taking leaps, I’m no longer enabling the fear (you know, big fattie can’t do it) which has held me captive nearly my whole life… I’m no longer enabling that fear to hold me back.  Life is scary but exhilarating outside the comfort zone.  I’m learning how to dream big… and I love it.

So, it’s not a simple answer and I suspect the answer for the next person will be significantly different.  However, if I had to nail down my success, these things take the top 5.

What are your top 5?  Are they the same as mine?