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  • Dafne Sartorio

Why & How I started my fitness journey: 5 tips & tricks if you are starting yours

Updated: Nov 19, 2019





Disclaimer: this article is meant for you if ou are starting your fitness journey. In case you are more advanced, maybe some of the tips will not be as useful to you. However, stay tuned! A series of articles will come soon.

Before we start… some context.

Like many others, since I was a teenager, I’ve struggled with my weight and appearance. Even though I was never obese, I have tried many crazy diets and strategies to stay fit and experienced many ups and downs. I had times on&off the gym, but I never considered myself a sporty person. I was raised more of a brain person (studying a lot, reading books, etc) than a person who would go outdoors and practice sports. That’s how I was raised.

Back in 2012, I went to China for an exchange experience. I lived for 3 months in a hostel, and the hostel didn’t even have a kitchen. Of course, I wanted to enjoy the experience, and eating out was fun and full of novelty, so I didn’t really care a lot about my eating habits. I left for China already overweight, and when I came back, to my surprise, I was 12kg heavier than when I left.

The moment of realization

The moment of realization that something needed to change came a couple of months after I was back from China. I was invited to go hiking with my friends, and during this experience, I just couldn’t keep up with them. I staid behind all the time, and needed help to get to the end. I really wasn’t feeling good with myself, my clothes didn’t fit anymore, I was feeling tired all the time. So I decided that it was time to make some progress on my health.

And how did I start?

This is what I call Phase I: the very beginning of my fitness journey, that went from mid-2012 until mid-2014. We will talk about the other phasis later ;)

These are the main changes I made:

Exercising more (from 0 times a week to 3–4 times a week)Making better food choices during the week

Just by doing this, I lost the weight I had gained in China, and quite some more. I also started to work on my mindset, but to be honest this took way more time (and it’s still in progress).

So here are my tips if you’re starting now:


Tip#1: Start with Why




Like Simon Sinek always claimed, you have to start with a purpose. Why do you want to do this in the first place? What is the motivation behind this change? Also, what’s your own definition of health? My purpose back then was to simply feel better with myself and become more active by losing back all the weight I had gained.

Tip #2: Break down your goals into realistic ones

You have to know what is it that you want to achieve. My advice is for you to start with a 6 months timeframe. Where do you want to be in 6 months from now? Make sure to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-framed). In case you need some more insight on that, feel free to check this article.

After that, break down those goals in smaller milestones. For example, if your goal is to be able to run 10km in 6 months from now, how much would you like to be running in 1 month from now? And based on that, what is it that you need to do every week to get there? This is how you will be able to track your progress, know what you have to do, and stay motivated.

Tip #3: Find the unhealthy habits stopping you from getting there.

Many of us have those habits that can easily block progress. It can be something as simple as spending too much time on social media, sleeping too little, or drinking too much alcohol.

The point here is to indeed acknowledge that we have these habits and to understand what are the triggers that generate them so that we can work on the root cause and remove or at least reduce them.

One of the unhealthy habits I am trying to remove from my life is overeating, which usually happens when I watch Netflix. For that, I have decided to try a couple of strategies:

eating before I start watching TVhaving healthy snacks and drinks around metrying to reduce the amount of NetFlix I watch in the first place :)

Tip #4: Find what is it that you enjoy

I see many people sacrificing themselves to go to the gym because they just hate to be indoors. Or some people who try to start running, even though they don’t enjoy it at all, but they believe it will help them lose weight.

I deeply believe that when we do something we enjoy, things get easier. Therefore, finding what type of activity and nutrition that best suits you is the best way forward, and you can only do that by experimenting with different modalities. No one is the same, and we have to understand that there is no recipe for success that fits everyone.

In case you need some extra creativity, here are some fitness apps which include different modalities.

Tip #5: Apply the “best possible choice” rule

One of the biggest game-changers to me was realizing that starting small can make an impact. So I adopted what I call “the best possible choice” rule: always doing the best I can given the situation I’m in.

For example, If you are eating out, you will most likely not be able to count every single calorie. However, instead of giving up and eating a terrible meal, you can ask yourself: “what is the best option right now?” . It could be changing from ordering a burger with fries to ordering a burger with a salad, for example, or maybe even just ordering a salad.

If you are traveling with no access to a gym, how can you make sure you move more? This can be as simple as going for a long walk or doing some sit-ups in your hotel room.

If you are craving some comfort food, I would challenge to cook it yourself, including more natural ingredients, instead of buying it already prepared. It will not only taste better but also be healthier. By the way, cooking at home is always a great idea.

Here is an extensive list of swaps you can make.

Bonus tip (#6): Take it easy!

Trust me, there will be times you will feel like none of this is worth it, and you will doubt yourself. These are the times you need to take a step back and see what you have already achieved.

We are human beings, which means we make mistakes, and that is okay, as long as we go back on track afterward. Be patient and treat yourself with care!

Conclusion: This is not a linear process, but it will be worth it!

In the end, your fitness journey will involve a change of mindset. And that takes time.

Moreover, this journey is not linear, and that’s why we need to keep reminding ourselves that the objective is to improve in the long term, not to go for some radical change that is not sustainable.


My final piece of advice? Enjoy the ride and embrace the ups and downs as a path to growth.

In case you read until here, what other tips do you have for others who are also starting their journeys? Please, share them below!

I hope you enjoyed this article, and stay tuned for more. In the next articles, I will be sharing about meal prep, how to stay motivated when times are hard and what I eat in a day.

Do you have questions or suggestions?

Feel free to reach out, I am happy to help :)

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