I'm not one of those trainers/coaches who rolls their eyes at January 1 gym-goers. If you've been following along for awhile, you know that I am very passionate about clean slates and starting lines. If it's your New Years Resolution to get healthy or healthier this year, I want to be the first to tell you BRAVO. The willingness to change is the first step in the right direction, and it's a big one. I want to share a few things I wish I'd known when I embarked on MY fitness journey almost 6 years ago.

TAKE PICTURES. You're not going to want to. But you should, because I promise you, you will regret not having them down the road. I WISH I'd tracked my progress with photos. So much so, that I'm actually going to start taking monthly photos once I get my boot off and re-start my workouts again. I know it may feel icky at first (I've had a tough couple of months...) but I'm looking forward to the visual motivation I know it'll provide.

TRY EVERYTHING. AND I MEAN EVERYTHINGDon't relegate yourself to one specific workout or a limited selection of food. Variety is the spice of life, my friends! Challenge equals change. One of the most challenging aspects of fitness for me is that it's all about being uncomfortable, and I HATE being uncomfortable. Comfort is literally the most important thing to me in the entire world. So stepping onto the gym floor and out of my comfort zone simultaneously will always be some level of terrifying for me, but I love a challenge and relish the opportunity to rise to it. And I love being able to help others step out of their comfort zone as well, for it's there you find victory, success and confidence you never knew you had. I encourage you to try at least one new workout each month; I think you'll be surprised to see what you end up enjoying!

NO ONE DIET WORKS FOR EVERYONE. We all have individual needs and unique palettes. Maybe you have celiac disease or a dairy intolerance. Maybe you can eat a crap ton of Chic Fil A and Cracker Barrel and still look bangin' in a bikini (looking at you, Cameran from Southern Charm). In the past year I've found that a gluten-free lifestyle works well for me. If you're not sure what your body needs, I encourage you to do some research, talk to a nutritionist/dietician/health coach or look into an elimination diet. 

BE OPEN-MINDED. YOU DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING AND YOU NEVER WILL. One of the most important lessons I've learned working in this industry is that it's constantly evolving and ever-changing. New studies are always taking place and new information is always surfacing. I used to think I could achieve the body of my dreams with semi-clean eating, cardio and yoga. (Read more about this below.) Now, maybe you can. But I cannot because ultimately I have always wanted the kind of muscle definition that is achieved through resistance training. Unfortunately, it took me many years to figure this out!

CARDIO OR WEIGHTS? YOU NEED BOTH. Around the time that I decided I wanted to actively try to lose some weight (because for years I just wished I'd magically become thin again) and make some healthy changes in my life, I signed up for a yoga studio membership and began to reevaluate all of my food choices. That's when everything began to change.

I was such a rookie in yoga those first few times... wearing regular cotton leggings that kept sliding down my non-existent hips (I hadn't yet discovered luon) and fighting to keep up with the rest of class and lengthen my downward dog. I liked how aware yoga made me of my body and my being; I began to truly zone in on how I treated myself, what I ate, etc. A few months later, I tried SoulCycle for the first time and we all know how that went. (I was a fanatic for years. I still love it, but rarely go because I can take cycling classes for free at Equinox.)

However, it wasn't until years later that I began lifting weights. Oh, if I could turn back time! I cringe a little every time I meet a new client who says, "I don't lift weights because I don't want to get bulky." (To which I always reply, "Well, do I look bulky?") Weight lifting has given me such confidence and a strong sense of self. I wish so badly that I had started lifting years ago. So I'm here to tell you... you need both. You need cardio to keep your heart healthy, reduce risk of disease and control your weight. You need resistance training (weight lifting, weight machines, etc.) to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle and keep your bones and joints healthy. Those are just a few of the benefits of each. 

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. I ask for help a lot. When I was training for my half marathon three and a half years ago with the lovely trainer/coach in the photo above, I made sure to ask plenty of questions and absorb as much information as possible. When I wanted to get stronger and change my body composition two years ago, I knew I needed help and invested in a personal trainer, which helped inspire me to become one! No one can - or should have to - go at this alone. Any good trainer/coach will be happy to help you if they can, but you have to ask. :) (If you have any specific questions, my current certifications are listed here.)

Happy 2017! I dare you to go make it the best, brightest, healthiest and happiest year yet.