The Mental Fitness Journey

Hey guys 🙂 today I wanted to talk about the mental part of a fitness journey.  I think many people go on Instagram or online and see pictures of fit people and just think “wow they look great, they make it seem so easy to be happy, healthy and in shape”.  What isn’t shown in all the fitness pictures is the mindset behind the photos.  It’s easy to go and tell someone what to eat and what workouts to do to get in shape but that is only half the battle.  I honestly believe that  the biggest hurdle of a fitness journey is mental rather than physical.  In order to make changes to your lifestyle, you have to be ready to mentally embrace those changes and be in the right mindset.  I’ll give you an insight to my own mental journey to show you what I mean.

I have been a distance runner since high school and genuinely love running.  It got to the point where I was running 5-6 miles a day everyday.  Once I began lifting I knew that running that much on top of lifting was very taxing on my body.  I also knew that all the calories I burned from running could potentially offset the weight gains I was hoping to make by lifting. Those were the facts.  Did I listen to the facts? Nope, not at first.  I mentally could not make myself stop running 5-6 miles a day.  I was afraid of losing my ability to run long distance.  I basically had to force myself to only run 2 miles on leg day.  Fast forward a few months. I finally began listening to my body and realized how tired I was trying to both run 6 miles a day and lift.  I began to cut down on the mileage and I was mentally okay with it! Yes, I still run everyday but I listen to my body and do not force myself to run a certain distance each day.

My other mental battle is with food.  I’m not gonna lie, I have always been thin and have never really struggled with my weight (mentally yes but not physically).  Before I started lifting I was probably eating around 1800 calories a day (probably should have been eating a lot more because of how much I was running).  Once I began lifting I knew that I was going to need to eat more to build muscle and offset the caloric deficit I was creating from running.  This was fact.  Did I listen to facts? Nope, not at first.  After a few months I decided to try to bump my calories up to 2000 which gave me extreme mental anxiety at first.  For whatever reason, 2000 seemed like such a huge number to me and it was scary for me to eat that much even though I knew I should.  I hovered around 2000 calories a day for the next couple months.  Yes I was getting stronger but I wasn’t gaining any muscle mass.  I even lost a few pounds without even trying because my body was in a caloric deficit.  Recently, I got a body scan done at the Complete Nutrition store and it told me that I would need to eat 2900 calories a day to gain 2 lbs of muscle a week.  I literally laughed when I heard that number….I am 5’3″…how in the world is that much food going to fit into my stomach?? But these are facts and I need to listen to facts.  I think I am mentally stronger now than I used to be and have challenged myself to eat 2300 calories a day (still probably less than I should but I am slowly trying to increase).  The first time I saw 2300 calories come up on myfitnesspal app I got sooo much anxiety.  Despite the fact that a body scan and basically any caloric calculator tells me that I need to eat that much, I refused to believe it.  But I told myself that I needed to trust the process and science.  I have been eating 2300 calories a day for the past week and let me just say that despite what old Sarah would have thought, I have not ballooned and gained 10 pounds.  In fact I basically look the same as I did a month ago when I was eating 300 calories less per day(if you want proof, the pic above is from this week the morning after eating a pint of icecream!)  Hopefully I will be seeing some gains soon as I continue to increase my calories!

Basically the point I want to get across is that it is important to trust science and the process! I still struggle with this from time to time and I must constantly remind myself that yes I should eat more and that no it will not make me fat.  I need to constantly remind myself that I have increased my metabolism because of lifting and because of that I need to feed my muscles with extra food!  I need to remind myself that I run a lot and walk a lot and because of that I need to replenish the caloric deficit with extra food! And finally I need to remind myself that this extra food is going to go to my exercising muscles and not to my waistline. So while my fitness journey may appear smooth from the outside, just know that I have had my fair share of mental struggles on the journey and continue to battle them and challenge myself each day :).  I wish you guys luck with your own mental fitness journeys! As always feel free to comment or message me with any questions.

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