This Is How I Lost Forty Pounds

Hello Laura!

Long time reader, first time emailer.

I love your writing and you’ve inspired me to start exercising. I started about 4 weeks ago and am just going to the gym at my apartment complex every day for about 20 minutes and doing weights and cardio but I’d love some advice from you if you’re up to it.

I think I’ve locked in the “just get to the gym” portion of the mental training and now I’m in need of some actual exercise guidance. There are so many different websites that will tell you what to do but advice seems better when it’s from a person you feel like you know.

I’d like to do some sort of full body workout like yoga and alternate that with cardio (elliptical). Is there a schedule you’d recommend? Or a type of yoga that I can learn myself? Should I still do weights?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thank you so much!


So, listen: I am by no means a healthcare professional – all I can do is tell you what worked for me, when I lost all that weight. Shifting those pounds was the weirdest, craziest, most committed thing I have ever done, but the first thing is this: something in my brain clicked. I really felt like I had no choice but to change the way I treated my body. I just sort of realised… I was being a real asshole to myself, you know? Never working out and shoveling junk food into my mouth even when I wasn’t hungry: I behaved as if I didn’t even like myself, no matter what I said to the contrary.

Whenever I’d tried to lose weight before I failed, because I didn’t understand the basic relationship I needed to have with my body. I thought I would appreciate her when I was slimmer, could look better in my summer clothes. I couldn’t wait to be somebody new, somebody better – but it just doesn’t work that way. You look your best self when you are kind to your body. When you work out as a way of celebrating what she can do, and eat to fuel those work-outs – not the sugar cravings.

That said.

To motivate myself, I booked a race. I booked a spot in a 10k race, told the Internet about it, and then, because I couldn’t stand to lose face, I kept running because I knew I had 4 months to reach that finish line.

I ran four times a week, according to an app I downloaded to my phone that let me build up my endurance. That was key, too: before, when I ran, I just kept going until it hurt, I felt sick, and had to stop. Real running training helps your brain as much as your body. I started with bursts of walk-one-minute, run-one-minute, and those minutes became walk-one-minute, run-ninety-seconds, and as the weeks built up so did the amount of time I could run between breaks, until one day, I ran 30 minutes, non-stop, and realised that, holy shit! I could really do this thing!

I did yoga once a week, too, to work out the soreness in my muscles – just a restorative gentle yoga. Over time, that became the highlight of my week, and once I’d completed a couple of 10k races (that’s right, once I started I just couldn’t stop!) yoga overtook the running as my favourite work-out, as I experimented with Vinyassa and Ashtanga classes. Whoever said yoga is easy never undertook a class like that! You can get videos online for those things, too, but nothing beats the energy a collective class generates.

I’m now training as a yoga teacher – that’s the extent to which I turned my life around. Isn’t that crazy? Getting in shape taught me exactly what I am capable of once I believe I can, and if there is anything I want for you, it is that: that “flip” in your mind, the one that takes you from self-limiting to self-fulfilling.

Teach yourself that you can, wee one. Because you’ve got this. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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