I started my fitness journey in 2019, when I was 23. I was recently engaged, and had a wedding in the summer I really wanted to look healthy for. I'll admit, though, my initial goal was to lose weight...and that was it. I didn't care about being strong or growing big muscles–I just wanted to look smaller.

Fast-forward to me actually reaching some so-called "goal weight" and I quickly realized that I was not any more satisfied or happy in life. I wanted to uncover true happiness and strength, both mentally and physically. I decided to shift my focus away from weight and my body and really zero in on mental and physical toughness instead.

That's when I decided to face my fear of the gym and lifting weights. I wanted transform my life and well-being for the long term, and I thought embracing something that felt totally new and uncomfortable for me was a great way to turn over a new leaf. A fresh start and mindset.

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To help with my confidence and training, I hired a coach.

I was so nervous to enter a gym. I barely even knew how to work a treadmill other than pressing the start button. But I was determined to make a genuine life change happen.

I was not an athletic person at all growing up. I tried multiple sports in school but didn't stick with anything very long because I didn't have a passion for any of them. I also hated phys-ed class.

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All of this is to say, the gym was new to me. I started lightly strength training when I first started. I was extremely anxious! But I started following strong, amazing and inspirational women on social media and learned from their platforms. (These include Sydney Adams and Makayla Anisia.)

I knew I always wanted a coach, but I wanted someone who was a woman, down to earth, and invested in their clients. I searched and searched until I found the person who gave me the best vibes. That was Kelly Lewis of Progressive Performance P2—she is *the bomb.*

Now I work out five days a week with two rest days. I will typically have a workout split targeting certain upper body muscles and then days focusing on the lower body. I usually have two to three upper-body days and the rest are lower body days. I work with my coach on what we are focusing on growing to plan out what those days look like in detail.

Finding a supportive environment, and likeminded people, was key.

First, I found a gym that was local to me, easy to travel to, and an environment I felt comfortable in. Touring different gyms is something I suggest to anyone looking to start a fitness journey does this. Test out a few locations close to you and pick the one you feel the most comfortable in!

Community is another thing that I found helped me. I have a close group of friends that share a similar passion for health and fitness as I do. It makes a world of difference when you are around people who want to watch you grow and accomplish your goals. I went out of my comfort zone and started connecting with others who went to the same local gym as me, shopped at the same local supplement store I do, and really built a solid and trustworthy friendship with them. You can learn off of each other and build together.

I am most proud of overcoming my gym anxiety.

When I first started training, I would take breaks in the locker room. I felt like an entire room was watching me, and some days that would kill my motivation, and my workouts.

Having a routine helped me overcome my anxious thoughts: throwing a cute gym outfit on, jamming out to my favorite music on my drive in, showing up at a similar time every day and seeing familiar faces, popping my headphones in and having my new "me" time. You will learn that no one is watching or judging you. We are all at the gym for the same reason: growth.

I can also now deadlift 185 pounds—which absolutely blows my mind.

I am currently working on growing my strength through progressive overload (this is where you either increase your rep range, weight size, or both to make sure you are gradually increasing your strength.) I have found that I can lift heavier compound movements. My deadlift started at 105 pounds, and my current max is 185 pounds! That is some *amazing* progress that I am so proud of.