How Riley Developed a Positive Sense of Self

How Riley Developed a Positive Sense of Self

There's a saying that summer bodies are made in the winter, but that doesn't mean that you can't begin your health and fitness journey at any other time of the year. "I decided that a late start was better than not starting at all, so I made a PumpUp account," said Riley, a member who joined the community at the end of spring. "I had been wanting to get in shape for the summer, but I hadn't gotten anywhere. I thought that the community might be the extra push that I needed to really get healthy." Before PumpUp, Riley had a hard time being consistent about healthy and active living. "Sometimes I went to the gym a few times a week, and sometimes I didn't go for months," she admitted. "Food was an ongoing battle; I would either not eat enough, or binge on everything in sight. I felt that exercise and healthy eating were chores that would interfere with my lazy life." Riley's eating patterns were erratic at best. She often skipped breakfast and rarely consumed more than 200 calories for lunch. After school, she binged on food to make up for her calorie deficit. "It was unhealthy," she lamented. "It made me feel bad about my self-image and my body. I always thought that being skinny was the only way to be liked by others."

As soon as Riley began to track her progress with the PumpUp community, she was able to maintain the habits that she once struggled with. "Since I started with PumpUp, I feel like I've found a healthy groove," she shared. "It changed my life and strengthened my self-image. Sure, I still have my sweets (I even had a cupcake for breakfast today) and I have days where I sit around, but the next day I get back up, drink a smoothie, and hit the gym." According to Riley, the key is to find healthy food and habits that you love, and to stick with them. "I used to try to run everyday and I'd give up after a week because I hated it," she recounted. "Then, I found yoga. I do it for an hour or more every day because I love it so much!"

Lifting weights also changed the way that Riley perceives herself. "It was a complete 360: I always thought that tiny arms and a flat, thin stomach were so pretty and then suddenly, I was doing bicep curls and crunches every day," she said. "Not only was food important, but I realized that being healthy and strong was so important for my yoga practice! I can't do headstands without a strong core and I can't do handstands without muscular shoulders. I like the feeling of being strong. It's the most rewarding thing in the world."

Though Riley's original goal on PumpUp was to lose a bit of belly fat, she was able to achieve just that— and more. "After I lost some fat, I was pretty content with my size," she revealed. "[Then] I realized that I wanted my muscles to be bigger and stronger to help with my yoga practice. The weight I've lost isn't as important as what I've gained. Now that I've lost fat and gained muscle, my current goal on PumpUp is really just to live a healthy and happy lifestyle every day. But a six pack would be nice as well."

Riley's best advice

My best advice is to be easy on your self-image. Don't let your mind bully your body. Your body is a temple: if you want to get healthy, do it because you love your body and not because you hate it!! Another thing is that if you view fitness as an interruption in your life, you're not approaching it the right way. Being fit doesn't mean you have to be in the gym 5 hours a day. Just maybe trade out one episode on Netflix for a walk or spend a bit more time at the gym and you will see results. Being healthy should never be a chore. Have determination, ask for help, and be patient with your body. And remember that the main goal is health and happiness and it's easily achievable with a good attitude, lots of fruit and good clean food (with the occasional sweets), and some good old sweat!

Riley's source of motivation

My biggest motivation is myself. If I want to look and feel my best, I'm going to have to put in the work. Half the battle of working out is just getting myself to the gym and once I'm there I'm 100% motivated! PumpUp is also a big help with motivation because there are so many lovely people who kick ass everyday and I just want to do the same!

More about Riley

I've never played a sport. That's why I always found it so hard to be healthy. I have the WORST coordination in the world, so I joined a gym when I was young. I just love it so much more then getting yelled at by a coach. I love the feeling of pushing myself. So, if anyone out there has never done a sport, don't worry. You will be just fine without them.

Find Riley on PumpUp @rileyfit and cheer her on!