‘I got the body of my dreams — After gaining 18 pounds of muscle’
So I decided to get skinny. I thought watching the number on the scale go down would make me happy. And for a while, it did—I started off just walking my dog farther and farther every day, and eventually I joined a gym.
My relationship of 10 years had just ended, and at 27 years old, I felt unattractive; I hated what and who I saw in the mirror, and I felt like my happiness was completely out of my control.
By the end of 2016, my body was exactly where I always thought it needed to be to feel better about myself. I'd spent the previous 11 months working out like crazy and my weight dropped from 183 pounds to 121 pounds.
But instead of feeling good, I felt petrified. The truth was I had spent the past 11 months obsessing over the scale, secretly under-eating, over-training with cardio, and skipping rest days due to overwhelming guilt. And with a lack of food and rest, I was constantly tired, hungry, and completely out of energy.
I didn’t feel beautiful. It hit me that weight loss was clearly not the fix I needed to improve my self-es teem and self-love. I needed to be athletic and healthy instead.
Luckily, my sister, a personal trainer who helped me lose weight in the first place, opted to help me with my new goal, too. Under her direction, I began adding weightlifting to my gym routine. I decreased my cardio and increased my calorie intake. Eating more and cutting back on cardio was really hard after spending nearly a year doing the opposite. But after a few weeks of lifting weights, I started to notice changes in my body. The scale started going back up—which was scary. But I knew it was for the right reasons. I had to remind myself that eating more would help fuel my body and aid my growth, repairing muscle.
I learned how to do compound lifts—squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses. I felt strong and capable. But moreover, every day in the gym felt like a challenge—fitness became fun again.
I started gaining muscle definition and my curves started to reappear in all the right places. Clothes started fitting me better. I started feeling confident.
The mental release was unbelievable—when I stopped obsessing over what the scale said and instead focused on improving my strength and upping my weights, I stopped overcomplicating, overthinking, and stressing about my body as much. And that's when the real results started showing.It wasn’t until this year that I finally landed the body of my dreams—made of curves, strength, and confidence. It took gaining 18 pounds to get me there.
I train five to six days per week: I do compound lifts three days a week, then other exercises and a little bit of cardio the other two to three days.
My focus is still on getting stronger and building more muscle—which is why I focus so heavily on compound lifts. I love that you’re targeting more major muscle groups using fewer exercises; you can create a full-body workout in less time and burn more calories than if you were staying in the gym for two hours.
But what I really love is my confidence. Fitness has helped me overcome depression and anxiety and given me a sense of purpose and inner peace.
I work out not because I “should,” but because I finally understand what it feels like to love myself. It’s so crucial to have a healthy self-esteem because when you feel good about yourself physically, it improves your mental outlook and your behavior.
Remember that being happy and confident is the best feeling in the world. Getting healthy and strong created that for me.
Follow Lisa’s fitness journey @lisa.bb88.
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