Most health professionals like doctors, nurses, dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers agree that maintaining a healthy body weight is a combination of both, having a healthy diet and regular exercise. So why is this a challenge for most people? Motivation might have a lot to do with it. Even though I am a fitness instructor now, I have struggled with motivation, body images issues, and weight gain for many years.

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I started gaining weight in my teens and struggled to keep it off as a young adult. It was not until my late 20s that I finally acknowledged that I needed to get healthy because it was negatively affecting other aspects of my life. I knew that there was no way I was going to join the gym because I was insecure with how I looked and I lacked the motivation to join. So I started with something less intimidating and easy to do, walking every day for 30 minutes to an hour. I also reduced my fat intake during the night by eliminating fatty foods such as desserts, fried food and other processed foods. Both of these changes made a big difference and I noticed positive results. I was able to keep the weight off for a couple of years and then I slowly started to gain it back. Of the 60 lbs. that I had initially lost, I gained back 20 lbs. I was both defeated and upset at myself for losing control of the situation. Even though I did not feel very good about how I looked, I felt that it might be a good idea to join a gym in the hopes that being around other people with the same goals might keep me motivated.

This was a good idea because I was able to commit to working out at the gym two days a week, and as my confidence grew I started to try out different cardio and strength machines. I also started to meet people at the gym who had similar stories, and I gained strength and comfort in knowing that I was not the only one who struggled with weight loss.

In 2009, I gathered courage and took my first group fitness class at the local recreation center. This was a life changing experience because not only was my teacher friendly and made me feel accepted and welcome, her positive attitude helped inspire and motivate me to keep working out. I noticed that in a couple of months of participating in the group exercise class, I had moved from the back row of the class to the front row. This was a huge accomplishment for me because it meant that I gained confidence. I decided that I also wanted to teach and inspire other people to exercise, so I took my first instructor certification in 2011 and started teaching group exercise. I knew had a lot to learn, so I went back to my first teacher and she became, and still is, my mentor.

Since then I have acquired other fitness certifications and I am continuously learning about maintaining a healthy lifestyle through both nutrition and exercise.

One of the most important and myth-busting things I learned about maintaining a healthy lifestyle are that carbs are important for your body because they can actually help you look, feel and perform your best.

As an initial weight loss strategy cutting carbs works well, but carb reduction can cost us in the long term.

This is especially true for those who work out regularly; cutting carbs can lead to a slower metabolism, increase in stress hormones, and reduction of muscle-building hormones (1). A simple rule that I follow is to eat healthy carbs during the day or before a workout, the times when I do the most amount of work. So if your evening is sedentary, you do not need carbs because there is no work being performed by your body. The second thing I learned was that in addition to eating healthy carbs and doing cardio, strength training is important.

Doing resistance training regularly makes us look better, since muscle takes up less room than fat and with increased muscle definition we look slimmer.

Another benefit of strength training activities are that they help increase bone density (2).

My experiences have taught me that the journey towards a healthy lifestyle is both a rewarding and personal one. Your experience is very much a process, so having compassion for yourself and believing that you are worth the effort is critical. The physical changes that you will see are very rewarding and give you a sense of accomplishment, and the improvements you experience in mental clarity, attitude, and mood are invaluable.

As an instructor, I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with and teach diverse and inspirational individuals. Everybody who I meet has a reason for exercising: whether it is to look better, improve their quality of life, get into shape for an event, meet new people, improve their memory and coordination, or learn a new skill. I truly enjoy meeting and learning about each person’s reason for trying to change their life.

1. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/low-carb-diets-2 Carb Controversy, Why low-carb diets have got it all wrong, Brian St. Pierre.

2. Fitness: Theory & Practice 5th Edition, Gladwin Laura A, 2011.

Richa Jauhari is a fitness instructor teaching Bombay Jam, a Bollywood Fitness class, and Barre, a no-impact body sculpting class, and is certified by Aerobic Fitness Association of America. For more information and contact please go tohttp://richajfit.tumblr.com/

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