I’ve known Jenn since high school (maybe junior high?). Oh… the stories should could tell about me, honors English and junior year Homecoming. We both turned 40 this year and I thought it would be fun to hear what she would tell her 30 year old self about fitness if she could. Her words and journey are inspiring. Maybe someday we’ll write a post together about what we would tell our 16 year old selves. – Pamela
I was approached by Pamela recently about writing a guest post about what I wish I could have shared with my 30 year old self now that I have recently hit 40. Let me give you just a little bit of background. My name is Jennifer, I am also known as Formerly Fat Girl Running. Ten years ago I was somewhere around 250 lbs (I currently stay around the 146-150 range) and in many ways miserable.
I have to say there a lot of things I would love to tell my 30 year old self. There are the obvious things like relationships, career moves, financial decisions, etc. Heck I would have thrown in a few sports bets too (Cardinal wins and Royal’s wins). But when I look at my health and in many ways how I felt about myself, there are just a few things I would have told myself way back then.
Don’t let fear of failure keep you from even trying. I think part of what had happened for so many years was that I was so scared that any attempts I might make to lose weight would go no where so I would stop trying altogether. I stopped and started my fitness journey multiple times with limited success. I would go to the gym for awhile, maybe workout with friends, maybe attend a class or two, but it was never for long. I think that part of why I got frustrated and felt like a failure is because I never had a plan. I was treating it more like a New Year’s resolution or maybe even just a wish. I am not sure what I expected, but realistically it took years to get where I was, so it was going to take years to undo it.
Which brings me to the second thing I would tell myself, come up with a plan and a goal. I never really sat back and decided what I wanted for myself or what I hoped to accomplish. I had this faint little dream, a secret goal that I couldn’t even voice outside of my own head. I wanted two things: to be less than 200lbs and to run a marathon. When I started getting a plan together and established a few short term goals (like learning portions, calorie counting, and implementing an exercise program) I started seeing results. Think about it, how many times in the past have you (like I) randomly gone to the gym or picked up the newest healthy trend at the grocery store only to not know what to do and go back to old ways. The more I look back the more I realize that I was lacking a plan/direction. Thankfully I started with getting a plan from a good trainer (Pamela) and then found I loved it so much I became a trainer so I could make my own plan!
Finally I would have told myself anything is achievable because you have an amazing body! I am not talking about it being amazing in the way it looks, but amazing in that each of the goals I set forth I have been able to accomplish. I have several goals left and have more work to put into them so that I can accomplish them (I will do an unassisted pull up!!!), but considering the fact that I have gone from 250 lbs to 150 lbs, have finished several half marathons, a full marathon, and a 50k.
My one wish/tip for you is don’t worry so much about age. Sure it would have been awesome if I had realized these things even earlier in life. The fact is I just didn’t and it does me no good to dwell on that, in fact I find it saps my motivation. However, no matter how old you are it is never too late to start making changes. It may be more challenging (stupid slower metabolism) and you may gain weight in areas you never did before (or more in areas you usually, do hello stomach), but it is well worth living a healthier lifestyle. The experiences I have had and the joy that my love of running and fitness have brought cannot even be measured. Life is a wonderful experiment, but you have to get out there and start.