90 Pounds Down, Jamie Shares 7 Tips for Sticking with Your Workouts


By: , – Jamie Berube, SparkPeople member
  :  149 comments   :  125,964 Views

I’ve been going to the gym for a long time. I love to exercise and move my body while tuning out the world to the sound of Kanye West on my iPod.
But I wasn’t bred and conditioned by Herculean, health-nut parents who cycled on Saturdays or ran 5Ks for fun with their Spin class buddies. I learned to love exercise on my own.

I grew up in the suburbs of central Florida in a polished small town, where both popularity and athletic prowess escaped me. I was chubbier than most of my classmates and started wearing plus-size clothes at 16.

I hated P.E. class and exercise because I was insecure about being too big or not good enough. The summer before I turned 20, I decided, would be the summer that I would lose weight. I had moved away from that small town, and I was ready to flaunt the independence I had discovered in college.

It took a lot of courage, but I joined a local gym and was strategic about my choice.
I wasn't looking for the best deal or the biggest facility: I deliberately chose a gym that wasn’t popular or hip. I didn’t want to be spotted by the cool kids as I waddled on the treadmill in my size XL T- shirt or heaved through a set of lunges.
I chose a gym dominated by retirees who read newspapers or listened to books on tape on the stationary bike. It had TVs and an easy exit, too, in case someone I knew spotted me. I was sold.

Those first months and pounds were excruciating. But once I dropped my first 30 pounds, it became easier. After 40 pounds, it started to feel good.

Today, I'm 90 pounds lighter, I still go to the gym several times a week and I run outside on the weekends. It’s not always easy to stay motivated--even now. I get burned out and need breaks and lose motivation… like when it's 95 degrees or I've had a bad day and want to devour a plate of cookies. Still, even if I slip up, I don't give up.
Here's why--and how.
1. I've come a long way, baby

When I think back over the past four years, I realize how much my life has changed because of exercise. I have confidence. I’m less stressed. I feel strong and healthy. I wouldn’t trade any of these things to be 19 again. 

Even if you’ve just started to exercise, that's a huge step in the right direction. You’ve already made the commitment. Celebrate that.

2. I just go.
I never regret going to the gym (unless I ate a bean burrito two hours before). I always feel better after a workout. Have you ever met someone who, after a 5-mile run or yoga class says “That was a bad decision. I feel lousy”? I haven’t.

3. I treat myself.
I love magazines. If I’m having a bad day I treat myself to a magazine to bring to the gym as both a reward and reinforcement. I love pumping my legs along the elliptical machine with the latest issue of Real Simple or People. It makes my workout go by faster, and I feel more relaxed.

4. I make a new playlist.
For me, it’s all about the workout playlist. When I’m sweating all over the Stairmaster, I need hip hop or rock n’ roll to keep me going. I choose music that makes me happy and want to dance. I make a new playlist every other week--and I'm not afraid to ask for friends' suggestions. I download new music and explore different music, too.

5. I work and play.
Sometimes I plan something fun or relaxing after my workout. If I work out at night, it might be a good meal, a glass of wine or vegging in my pjs--or meeting my friends for dinner. I keep my eyes on the prize and envision it while I work out.

6. I'm not alone.
When I lace up my shoes for a run, I like to think about all of the other women across America who are doing the same thing at their gyms or in their neighborhoods. There are so many people just like me who are passionate about exercise. Sometimes I think about the sophisticated magazine editors and Carrie Bradshaw-esque writers in New York City, and that they too, will probably go to the gym today. Remind yourself that we’re all in this together.


7. Sometimes, it's OK to not work out.
Sometimes you just need a break.  Exercise requires a certain amount of mental strength. It’s natural to feel mental and physical burnout. Working out is an incredible discipline. We have to go easy on ourselves when our bodies tell us to.
If a formerly overweight, unpopular, and unathletic Italian girl from the South can do it…well, I think you can too.

What is your best advice to motivate others? Do you reward yourself when you work out?
Want to write a guest blog post for the dailySpark? Send your topic idea and a writing sample to dailySpark editor Stepfanie Romine: editor (at) dailySpark (dot) com.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   Stop Exercising So Hard! Why Moderate Workouts Really Do Work


  • 99
    One of the best blogs I have read in awhile. Thanks for the motivation! - 11/8/2011   11:27:57 AM
    Thanks, just what I needed today.
    Keep up the great work!! - 11/8/2011   11:00:35 AM
    Before I joined SparkPeople, I really felt like a 'loser' (and I'm not referring to the good kind....ha!) I just felt that all the obstacles I encountered (especially the mental/emotional ones) were felt only by me -- thus, I was in a lose-lose category all alone. What has been most inspirational and motivating to me, is the discovery of people just like me. They have made me feel like there is nothing unusual about my obstacles, ..... and, "here's how to overcome them!" Thanks to all of you, and may God bless each of you as you pursue your own, personal goals. - 11/8/2011   10:31:36 AM
    Great article. It was very encouraging. I could relate to your story. Thank you. - 11/8/2011   10:29:43 AM
    This is exactly what I needed to read today! - 11/8/2011   10:20:33 AM
    I work out 5-6 days a week, three days a week I have classes, some I walk, other days I may walk. It is rare that I don't skip exercising all together and those days I usually feel a little under the weather or have an aggravation of an old injury. Since I work out so frequently I don't reward myself on a regular basis, but I do occasionally treat myself to something special to eat or something new to wear at the gym.

    My advice to people wanting to lose weight just to get moving, or those who are new to the gym (usually the heavy ones like I used to be) is that they can do it, that they are stronger than they think they are - a remark a trainer gave me 5 days after I started going back to the gym again which really struck me, after all, it takes muscle to move that much weight around. I tell them that it will get easier and that I've lost 79 pounds on a good day and they will see results to if they stick with it. - 11/8/2011   10:13:50 AM
    I'm at work but couldn't resist reading this blog that popped up in my email! Thank you so much for sharing! I get up at 4:30am to get ready for the day in a large public high school. I absolutely LOVE my career, but by the end of the day I'm soooo done. I often skip the workout. I tried getting up earlier, but come on now! As I read your blog I really hit on the "I never regret" line. I never regret after the run or hike or video...as a matter of fact I do a little self-talk with "yeah me!" But it is so hard after a 10-12 hour day at school to put in that next hour. I am printing your "list" and will use you as my motivator this afternoon! Thanks so much! - 11/8/2011   10:13:05 AM
  • 92
    Great ideas. You are to be commended not only for your weight loss, but more importantly for your wonderful attitude! - 11/8/2011   10:09:13 AM
  • 91
    Thanks for the motivation tips! This is what I need to read every day until I develop the habit of exercising regularly! - 11/8/2011   10:07:58 AM
  • HUP2345
    Thank you so very much! Just the positive motivation I need to get back on track!!!! - 11/8/2011   9:52:22 AM
  • 89
    This is not only a great blog for adults but an inspiration to all the young girls out there who are struggling with self-esteem and weight issues. Thanks

    And stick with those small gyms. They may be a "little hole in the wall" but they are great for you, have much more personalized service, friendly, and they too need your $$$ and business. If we all go to the "yuppie" ones these will be out of business for those just like Jamie. - 11/8/2011   9:27:00 AM
  • 88
    Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration. - 11/8/2011   9:12:31 AM
  • 87
    Thanks so much :) I needed this, his morning. Off to the gym :D - 11/8/2011   9:03:01 AM
    Thanks for that. I will think about all the other women that have fit fitness into their day. Super big congrats on the weight you have left behind! - 11/8/2011   8:53:38 AM
    Keep up the great work, way to go! - 11/8/2011   8:46:27 AM
  • 84
    Thank you for a great post!! very motivational and congrats on your weight loss!! Keep up the good work! : ) - 11/8/2011   8:32:34 AM
  • 83
    What a great and inspirational blog! Thank you for sharing.
    - 11/8/2011   8:30:56 AM
  • 82
    Thanks, I needed that little pep talk, especially since the weather is getting to cold in the am. - 11/8/2011   8:16:06 AM
    This was a wonderful post. I have just lost my first 10 lbs after a month at the gym. As we all know it is alot of hard work so thanks for the motivating tips! I am not someone who really likes to exercise at a gym but i found that just swimming and walking wasn't enough. Joining the gym has made the difference. - 11/8/2011   7:59:50 AM
  • 80
    One day a few months back I dragged myself to the local park to jog. I wasn't feeling super motivated, but then I saw a man with no legs furiously and tirelessly clocking miles on his special wheelchair. I looked at myself - healthy, but lazy - and realized there were people in this world who work out even when the odds are stacked against them. What was my excuse?

    I also like to remind myself that there is someone busier/poorer/older/etc... than me working out at this very moment. Again, what is my excuse?!

    Congrats on the fruits of your labor and great article! - 11/8/2011   7:54:45 AM
  • 79
    You make a lot of sense! Great ideas and I will return to them often I'm sure! - 11/8/2011   7:28:36 AM
  • 78
    Great blog!! - 11/8/2011   6:32:58 AM
    Thank you so much for your inspiring blog; just what I needed to remind myself why I started this journey! - 11/8/2011   6:11:53 AM
    This blog was SO inspirational! Thank you so much for posting!!! - 11/7/2011   1:45:23 PM
  • 75
    Great blog. I feel just like that. I was overweight during high school and I just hated PE classes. Slowly, I began to like to exercise. Now, I train at my own pace and rythm, sometimes running other times just doing some dancing. Hopefully one day I'll be as fit as you. Thank you for your inspiration. - 11/7/2011   11:21:27 AM
  • 74
    Great Blog! I definitely needed to read this today. I have been struggling with the decisions I have been making these last couple of days and reading this blog has gave me hope and inspiration to keep moving on! Thank you! - 11/6/2011   4:16:05 PM
  • 73
    Very nice #6 Is one that I will always try and remember ! - 11/6/2011   1:00:33 PM
  • 72
    Great article, thanks for posting!!! I tried to save, but it's not working right now. I will try later! - 11/6/2011   10:20:58 AM
    Thank you for sharing. What I will remind myself the most when working out is #6 - "I'm not alone", because it sometimes feels like I am alone on this journey; and, I'll focus more on #2 - "I just go". My challenge right now is to consistently run 4 to 5 miles every other day or at least 3 times a week (Sun - Tue - Thu). By the time Thursday rolls around, the last thing I want to do is run in the AM. This time I'll just go even if it's to walk. I've lost 25 lbs since starting my journey in May 2011 with the goal to lose (at least) another 35 lbs by March 2011. I know I can do it and I know I'm almost half-way there, but it is soooooo easy to fall back on old/bad habits, especially now with the colder weather upon us here in the Northeast. So, thank you again for sharing.

    I sincerely wish you (and everyone else on their personal health journeys) all the best of health and happiness. - 11/5/2011   8:26:57 AM
  • 70
    Great blog! My favorite part was when you asked whether I've ever heard anyone say working out was a bad decision and they feel lousy after a yoga class or running a 5K. I will remember that next time I feel too depressed to go for my walk! - 11/4/2011   10:13:50 AM
  • 69
    I loved your blog but what really got me was the description of your childhood. My children are so young and they are my inspiration right now. I want to set a good example for them with healthy eating and exercise. - 11/4/2011   10:08:53 AM
  • 68
    Great blog. I can relate to you with no exercise as a kid. Me to. Unfortunately I did not find exercise until I was wait for it 60 whew how many wasted years. I love walking with my ipod. I live in a remote small town and this year they have started to build a gym. Guess who is going to have membership 1.
    love Syl - 11/4/2011   12:48:59 AM
  • 67
    :) - 11/3/2011   11:53:27 PM
    Great blog! Number 4 is what I do to keep me motivated. I am putting together my 15th workout at the moment. I find 12 songs (about 45 minutes playing time) on YouTube with the lyrics on screen; convert them to .avis and burn my own disc. I can sing to the words and elliptical at the same time. Needless to say, I don't have an exercise buddy. Ya! - 11/3/2011   8:32:43 PM
  • 65
    My best advice to motivate others is to find some outdoor activity you just love to do and then track it on a daily or weekly basis. I love to bike and I ride every chance I get, even during the winter months here in NY. Just dress for it! I do reward myself by getting a new pair of bike shorts or pants, new bike gloves, or even new socks! Happy trails! - 11/3/2011   7:36:58 PM
  • 64
    WTG!!! Awesome job and attitude. I started walking about 6mos. ago. At age 59 I realized at the rate I was going I wouldn't see 65. I am now 51lbs lighter, still walking and eating healthy. Its all about attitude and realizing this is a life long challenge, you need to make a concerted effort to effect these changes. Good luck to you. - 11/3/2011   5:51:51 PM
  • 63
    I motivational piece of writing. I like and agree with everything you said. I was pleased to read number 7. I always felt bad when I missed a workout. Even when I'm sick I will do some kind of a workout or exercising. Back in 2008 I went astray from exercise. I worked out 7 days a week for 6 months straight. I took a vacation for 12 days to AZ. to see my sister. When I got back home, I could not get back into the swing of things when it came to my fitness. So I always have that fear in the back of my mind that if I even miss a day exercise, that same thing will happen. - 11/3/2011   2:10:14 PM
    Thanks for your inspiration. I'm also a person who loves to exercise but I too get wasted at times and I won't go for a couple of days to the gym but the important thing is not giving up on myself on my exercises. So I have lost 17lbs in the past 5months that's when I started to go to the gym and my goal is to shed another 15 more pounds but I know with dedication a healthy diet and physical activity I will acomplish my goal and let's not forget drink plenty of water. Thanks sparkspeople - 11/3/2011   2:04:07 PM
  • 61
    I really liked this Blog.....

    I can so relate to ALOT of what you are saying, I too have lost 82 pounds and have learned to love working out and running. I did the C25K program which i highly recommend to anyone wanting to start running.

    This is what keeps me going! - 11/3/2011   1:44:02 PM
  • 60
    I am just starting out, and still have a LONG way to go, so thanks for sharing and giving me a glimpse at what is in my future. - 11/3/2011   12:59:10 PM
  • 59
    Great blog and very motivating!! I loved the part where you said to picture all the other women who are doing the same thing...I never thought about that and if I'm not totally excited about going to the gym, I'm just going to think about all the others that are up and getting ready to go too! Thanks for sharing!!! - 11/3/2011   12:36:11 PM
  • 58
    Thanks for the motivation!! What a great blog. - 11/3/2011   12:34:38 PM
    Great blog! Thank you and way to go! As for rewards, once I lose a few more pounds, I do want to pick up some new work out clothes! - 11/3/2011   12:02:21 PM
  • 56
    Great Blog!!! I needed this!!! My neighbors and I are working out together as of yesterday!!! It was great to have the support of others. It makes me accountable to get out there again. Your blog helped me to rememeber why I'm doing it. THANK YOU!!!!! ANd congrats on your weightloss! - 11/3/2011   11:50:59 AM
  • 55
    probably one of the best blogs i've written on not only keeping it off but staying motivated in order to GET it off. thank you! - 11/3/2011   11:30:40 AM
  • 54
    Very inspiring-well written! Thanks so much for sharing. - 11/3/2011   11:12:23 AM
    "It's OK, I am on my way." - pastor Joel Osteen.
    "You can knock me down, but you can't knock me out." - minister Joyce Meyer
    "So What, I am a rock star, I get my groove on..." - Pink (played really loud)
    At the end of the day, believe. Amen. - 11/3/2011   10:19:23 AM
    This was a wonderful post! I felt like someone was writing my life, down to the revelation at 20. :) I am proud of you and confident that, if someone else has done it, so can I! Thanks for the motivation. - 11/3/2011   10:06:26 AM
  • 51
    This was a great read, and so motivating! I'm saving this for later when I need motivation to keep going :) - 11/3/2011   10:01:34 AM
  • 50
    Great blog! - 11/3/2011   8:43:17 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›