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Fitness

Starting at Square One - Here’s what I’d do differently.

Megan Dahlman fit strong mom
by megan dahlman
May 31, 2022

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What would I do differently if I had to start over? If someone were to come in and remove all the health and fitness gains I’ve made in my own body and go back to square one, what would I do? What mistakes would I avoid? I’m going to break down the exact steps I would take to get started again with my nutrition, my exercise, and even my mindset about the process. This, is going to save you a ton of time and heartache along your own journey, trust me.

In the beginning, when I first got into fitness and nutrition, I will admit right now...I just wanted a bangin’ hot body - I wanted to put on clothes or look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what I saw. Ultimately, I just wanted to be happy in my body and think about it only in positive ways, because I sure had a lot of negative thoughts about myself. I didn’t like the shape of my body, I didn’t like being able to pinch and squish things, I didn’t like how certain clothes looked on me, I didn’t like seeing a round belly in pictures of myself.

Back then, I believed that the correct route to the body I desired was through food restriction and extreme exercise.

And so that’s the road I went down, for quite a while, actually. But I still couldn’t get what I wanted because my efforts - all this work that I was putting into this - weren’t making me happy. Everything I tried made me feel trapped or obsessed or like my choices were taking over my life. I would get in great shape, but then I felt the pressure to maintain a really high standard of expectations.

Now for me, there was quite a lot at stake here. Because if I didn’t discover that contentmet or happiness in my body and the ability to think positively about it, I would have given up. Completely. I probably would have wallowed in my self-loathing and decided to just live with it, constantly frustrated by my body. I would have believed that what I wanted wasn’t actually achievable.

But fortunately, I evolved. I had the foresight to weed out the riff raff and bad influences, and look toward the guidance and mentorship of coaches and trainers that encouraged long term benefits, not just quick fix aesthetics like some sort of plastic surgery. And also, I can see how my relationship with Jesus played an important role, allowing me to mature to the point that my identity in Him is on solid footing.

So, through years of trial and error, practicing, testing, and evolving, and getting to the place where I’m constantly asking myself now, “Is this making my body feel really good and healthy, and is this something that also feels healthy for my mind and my soul?” I can finally say that I am now very strong and very healthy, and I feel like it never demands too much of heart, mind and soul. And I really do love my body.

This was a long evolution, and for many of us, this is what it takes.

But today, I want to try and save you a ton of time and heartache by telling you what I would do, with all the wisdom I have now, if I had to start from scratch. If I was at the beginning of my health journey and deciding right now that I’m going to get in shape, what would I do to make sure I didn’t waste any time and did it right. I’m going to breakdown the exact steps I would take to get started again with nutrition, fitness and my mindset about it all.

Gaining Wisdom

I know this is going to be valuable for you, because I also look up to a lot of people. There are plenty of people that I want to emulate.

My ears always perk up when I hear them say what they would do if they took all their wisdom that they have now and began again

  • I want to know! I want to compare it to what I’m doing because I know I’m closer to the beginning of my own journey
  • I want to move along my own path with as much wisdom as possible

So I’m going to draw from the wisdom of others and make adjustments to my own actions. And this is my hope for you today.

Starting from Scratch

Ok, we’re starting from scratch. If I had to begin all over again and start my fitness and nutrition journey from scratch, these are the exact steps I would take to get started.

Nutrition

I wouldn’t count anything (points, calories, macros, whatever). These are very advanced eating techniques and you’ll be way over your head very quickly if you start here. It takes years to undo the damage that obsessing over numbers causes. There are still foods that I calculate up in my brain years later. Some people say that it helps them be more aware of how much they’re eating, but the cost is too great. There are other ways to heighten your awareness without becoming a slave to numbers.

I would take the time to learn how different types of foods made my body feel and practice making decisions based on those feelings. Why did it take so long to learn mindfulness? I used to eat so much junk and pop Gas-X, and then vow to burn off those calories in the gym.

I would get in a rhythm of creating meals based around PRO’s and put all of my effort into getting really, really consistent with that. This is easy and doable in every situation. You get instant wins from this strategy and you really do see results, which keep you motivated.

I would learn the art of being content with small, deliberate splurges. I used to go all-in on a splurge with a very gluttonous attitude. I would wake up and realize that I could still find pleasure in delight with much smaller amounts, especially if I woke up!

Workouts/Exercise

I wouldn’t start with cardio. This led to imbalances, my body wasn’t strong enough for it, it was straight up monotonous lung burn and trying to find the motivation to do that was really, really hard.

I wouldn’t have my first foray into strength training be spot training. Once again I was creating imbalances and I had no idea

I would spend whatever precious minute I had available to exercise be spent on full body functional movements. These types of workouts are far better bang for your buck. I used to run 5 days a week and do spot training exercises for 30 minutes at a time 5 days a weekIf I had just done 3 days a week of 30 minute-long full body functional style movements, I would have experienced way more results in far less time

I would have learned the value of rest/light intensity days from the very beginning. I used to be all-in, “go hard or go home”, and I got injured a lot. Balancing hard days with light days allows me to train so much harder on the hard days and not dread my workouts (because they’re not all hard!)

Mindset

First and foremost, I wouldn’t compare my journey to anyone else’s. I saw people way further along on their fitness journey with years more experience and I would try to do what they did, which contributed to my all-or-nothing behaviors. Instead, I should have let myself be inspired by them, but then just be realistic and focus on my own journey, content to take it slow and deliberate

I would have thrown the scale away from day one and focused instead on how my body feels and how healthy it feels. This would have saved me so much emotional heartache.

(Ok, this might sound corny I know) But, I would be more grateful to God for this body. I’ve spent so much time trying to change it and make it different, rather than just being so thankful for what He meticulously designed for me. I would spend more time going through my day in awe and wonder about the cool things my body can do, rather than noticing all of its shortcomings. This would have been a huge game changer for my motivation and consistency, and even my expectations for success.

Examples

The good news is that through my own evolution, I now have the opportunity to coach women like you, and help you do it right. Help you avoid the wasted time and heartache throughout the whole process that I had to experience.

Everything I just described is fully baked into my training programs and courses, especially my JUMPSTART 30 program. If I had to start over and begin a health and fitness journey from scratch, I really wish I had something like JUMPSTART 30. It would have met me right where I was at and gotten my exercise and nutrition habits jumpstarted with my long term success in mind. But fortunately, you DO have access to this. And I would LOVE to invite you to do it with me if you’re just getting started or you want to start over and do it right from ground zero. It’s the best thing for you.

BIG TAKEAWAYS

The big idea here is that we all have our own journey with our bodies - many of them long and heartbreaking. But I want you to keep leaning in, gain that wisdom from others that have gone before you, and do it right.

Ok, your action steps now are to go back and listen to this again. I’m serious. And take note of anything you’re doing right now that I mention I would have done differently. And stop doing that. And switch gears and do it the way that I suggested. And then be sure to join me in my JUMPSTART 30 program if you need that help to get off on the right foot.

More Resources

HAPPENING SOON!! Summer Eat Fit: The Self Care Simplified Summer Nutrition Event!! June 9th-10th - Register now for Free!

Need a fresh start? Join me for JUMPSTART 30 HERE.

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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
Read More About Megan
Hi! I’m Megan.
Self-Care Simplified is for Christian moms that want to be equipped and encouraged to take simple steps towards the healthy life you want for yourself and the people you love.
Be sure to subscribe to Self-Care Simplified wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
Read More About Megan
Hi! I’m Megan.
take the quiz
Self-Care Simplified is for Christian moms that want to be equipped and encouraged to take simple steps towards the healthy life you want for yourself and the people you love.
Be sure to subscribe to Self-Care Simplified wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
RECENT posts