5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Working Out

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Working Out 

I’ve been training consistently for roughly 10 years, and over that time I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve even repeated some of those mistakes more times than I care to admit. 

Looking back on the past decade, I’m glad I made all those mistakes. I was able to learn from my mistakes and grow as a person and coach. 

No one is inherently good at “exercising.” We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Mistakes lead to frustration, which eventually leads to us giving up. If you’ve even been at that point where you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works, you’re not alone. 

To help you all on your fitness journey, I want to share 5 things I wish I knew when I started working out. 

  1. Nutrition is king

    : We’ve all been told “you can’t out-train a bad diet.” If you’re anything like, me you’ll try your hardest to prove that sentiment wrong. I tried for about 6 years…turns out it’s true! Unless you’re an ironman athlete training 3 hours a day of Michael Phelps, no amount of exercise will ever balance out a poor diet. It wasn’t until I made serious changes to my nutrition that I started to see results. I started to prioritize real, whole foods and put more value into meal prepping than training. Does moving the scale feel like an uphill battle? Chances are that you need to overhaul your nutrition. Until you do that, you’ll be fighting an impossible fight.

  2. Progress is not linear:

    You’ll have your good days/weeks/months and your not-so-good and that’s ok. I was so wrapped up in the “micro”, constantly checking my progress every month to see what changed. My happiness rode on that tiny snapshot. Forget the fact that I may have doubled my pull ups over the past year or lost 30lbs. If I didn’t see a significant change every 30 days, I failed. If you have this viewpoint, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. 

  3. Don’t compare yourself to others:

    If you want to compete with others on how much you can lift or how well you look in a bathing suit, there are plenty of competitions for that (don’t forget your spray tan). But if your goal is to become the best version of YOU, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to other people. There will always be someone stronger, fitter, leaner, or more jacked than you. Worry about yourself and becoming the best version of you there’s ever been. 

  4. Find your why:

    Working out isn’t always fun. Eating healthy isn’t always fun. Going to bed early isn’t always fun. Getting up early isn’t always fun. None of these things will ever be easy, and none of these things will ever be that enjoyable. So if you’re hoping to get results that stand the test of time you better have a pretty damn good reason to do the work. When I started training, my why was probably the same as every other bro in the weight room at Penn State, and at that time in my life that was a good enough reason to do the work. As I’ve matured, my why has matured. My purpose for training is what drives me to eat the way I do, sleep the way I do, train the way I do, and live the way I do. I want to be healthier at 30 than I was at 20, I want to be stronger at 40 than I was at 30, and I want to feel younger at 50 than I did at 40. Every decision I make regarding my health either pushes me closer to these goals, or pulls me further away. What is your why? Do you want to get off your blood pressure medicine, keep up with your children or grandchildren, fit into your clothes from college, do your first pull up? Identify what your why is and everything gets easier. 

  5. Be patient and accepting:

    When it comes to getting healthy, there is no end date. There is no level of strength, fitness, or body composition that signifies the end of the journey. When you commit to your health, you commit to living a healthy lifestyle forever. Until you make that commitment, you’re kinda just pretending. Sure, you might drop a few pounds, shed some inches, or gain some muscle mass. But without a real commitment, it’s only a matter of time before you fall back to where you were when you started. For the first five to six years of training I got bored a lot! I fell victim to chasing what was next. I constantly hopped from program to program and diet to diet. I never stayed with one thing long enough to let it work! That’s what we do. We want results right now, and if we don’t get them, we move on. “That diet doesn’t work,” “this gym sucks” “that trainer doesn’t know what he’s doing.” We never let the hard work pay off, because we quit before we let it. Patience is a virtue. Those of us who are the most patient will see the most change. Don’t take my word? Try it for yourself.

I could probably have a list of 100, but these five have been the most powerful “mistakes” I’ve made throughout my fitness career. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to share some lessons learned of you own, I’d love to hear them.