Guest Blog: Taking the First Step Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

Editor Note: The Training For Warriors Jacksonville team is pleased to offer a forum for our students to share their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Our first blogger, Jacqui joined the TFW Jacksonville familia almost two years ago and we couldn't be happier to watch her progress. In her own words, here is Jacqui's story.

After an ongoing struggle with my weight and a serious health scare almost nine years ago, I came to Training For Warriors Jacksonville in February 2013 to learn the right way to develop a healthy lifestyle. I came from a brief stint with a personal trainer at a large gym, which ended badly. I was nervous before my first small group session because I didn’t want to embarrass myself and be the only person who couldn’t finish a workout. I was relieved to find that my small group was and still is filled with empowering people of all ages and abilities.

In my first few sessions, the coach was great at explaining the process. That gave me confidence that I could try something new and know that I wouldn’t hurt myself. He had terrific energy and was so enthusiastic, that I knew if I wasn’t feeling something on a particular day it was more a reflection on me than the experience at TFW. I soon learned that all the TFW coaches have that trait in common.

Workouts at TFW are a constant challenge for the mind and body. In two years, I don’t think I have ever repeated a workout. The constant change has helped sustain my interest and build a habbit of working out on a regular basis. The coaches are in tune with the needs and abilities of every student. Even when it sounds a little crazy to me, I’ll always try what they suggest because I know they are pushing me to become my best self. Though I may protest, I love challenge and seeing how much more I can lift as I progress. As I reach new milestones, it always surprises me, but not the coaches or the other people in my small group. Everyone is there to celebrate with me like it is themselves reaching their own goals.

Eating well has been another learning curve for me. In addition to the abundance of unhealthy food around me, I had to learn how to not eat my emotions (i.e., when I am bored, sad, happy, etc…). The coach I primarily work out with today has been a tremendous source of mental and strategic support as I have developed tactics to manage my everyday food challenges. (For those wondering, the key to managing food-related issues is preparation!) I truly appreciate knowing that she is there for me when I have those tougher food situations.

The road to becoming a healthier me has not been direct. I had to learn how to manage the successes, plateaus and setbacks associated with building long-term healthy habits. To date, I have lost nearly 80 pounds with more to go. In addition to weight loss, I have gained the confidence I didn’t know I needed. My time at TFW Jacksonville has taught me about diet and exercise as two key compents to health. However, the third compent, mental fortitude, is probably the most important takeaway from this experience. The mental fortitude I have developed has given me strength and confidence to handle any challenge that may come my way.

From one beginner to another looking to start a wellness journey, I offer the following:

  • As soon as you find a moment of strength, seize it and make the call to get into a class. If you wait until the “right time,” it will never come and you will likely dig yourself into a bigger hole in the process.

  • Protect the time you commit to eating well and working out. It is way too easy to let life get in the way and let your health become a secondary priority.

  • Surround yourself with people on a similar mission as you. People with a similar mindset will be strong allies for you. Anything you can do to make the journey a tiny bit easier will go a long way to helping you achieve your mission.

  • Whatever you are feeling in the beginning, remember that everyone started in the same place as you.