“Do you even know where the gym is?”

That was my college roommate’s response to me after I turned down yet another invitation to join her at the campus gym.  Obviously, exercise has not always been at the top of my “to-do” list.  In fact, had there been a superlative in high school for “Least Likely to be into Fitness” it would have gone to me, hands down. Sports and activities weren’t really my thing. Well, at least not as much as Days of Our Lives and McDonald’s were my go-to extracurriculars.  Ironically, I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” I know, right? It is more fitting now then it was then.

 I remember the day I decided to make a change. (Is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” totally playing in your head now? Mine, too.) I was still in college trying to find something to wear to work.  All of my pants were uncomfortable and gave me that dreaded “muffin top.” You know, those love handles that have nowhere to go but over the top of the too-tight pants?I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to be able to pick an outfit, put it on and not worry how I looked, and more importantly— I wanted to feel good about myself. I went a little extreme, not to mention was very wasteful, and I threw out all the junk food in my cabinets and refrigerator. I drove to the gym (probably should have walked, as it was a mere 2 minutes away) that morning and signed up for the student membership. I figured if I had to pay for it, then that was motivation enough for me to show up.  Otherwise, I would essentially be giving my money away so other people could show up, use my treadmill time and wear the skinny jeans I wanted to fit in to. I didn’t want to pay for others to get fit, while I sat at home, eating yet another pint of ice cream. How many of you want to use that gym membership you’ve been paying for but not using now?

Six years ago was the day I decided to make a commitment to myself— a commitment to lose weight, be healthy and wear those skinny jeans that I bought and secretly promised myself I would fit into.  I still workout at the gym, and I take advantage of the gorgeous scenery here on the Space Coast and enjoy my daily run by the beach. I’m not a fitness trainer or dietician, but I am a regular woman who wanted to feel better about herself. All it took was the decision to commit.

A close friend recently posted this as his Facebook status: “Don’t like your life? Change it.”  It sounds so simple, right? It is that simple. You cannot change your body or your health overnight, but you can start making daily changes, right now.

Here are some changes you can start making today to take steps toward a healthier you:

  1. Write down your fitness goals—even the ones you think are crazy. Do you want to run a marathon?  Lose 30 pounds?  Tone your muscles?  Everyone starts with a goal.
  2. Keep a diet and exercise journal and track your progress.  I use MyFitnessPal for iPhones and iPads, it gives you a daily time frame that you will reach your goals in based on your diet and exercise entries.
  3. Take a 10-minute walk outside on your lunch break or before/after work. The fresh air and exercise will rejuvenate your body.
  4. Replace your normal beverage choices with water for one week.  It’s the healthiest, easiest and least expensive way to cleanse your body and give your skin its natural, fresh glow.
  5. Take a class at a gym. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Spin—there are many choices offered, and they are a great way to meet new people.  My favorite class to take is Bikram Yoga, it is intense but so rewarding.
  6. Need an easy way to cut calories?  Try eating sandwiches open-face style. Eliminating just one slice of bread will save anywhere from 75-130 calories, depending on your bread choice.
  7. Buy new workout clothes. For some reason, exercise seems more fun in a new outfit! TJ Maxx and Marshalls usually have an assortment of activewear at reasonable prices. Check out this article in our current issue for ideas. 
  8. Don’t deprive yourself.  If you feel like a glass of wine or an ice cream, have it.  I use desserts and drinks as rewards for my hard work throughout the week, and they taste so much better when you feel like you have earned them.
  9. Find an accountability partner that you can share your goals and progress with. If you’re not comfortable sharing face-to-face, use social media.  You better believe that when I finish a 20 mile run, the Twitter and Facebook world is going to read about it!
  10. Make a work-out playlist.  I make a new one each time I run.

 Playlist Songs of the Week:

“If I Could Turn Back Time” Cher

“Summer of 69” Bryan Adams

“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” Journey

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” Nikki French (this is a remix, not the original by Bonnie Tyler)

“Angel” Aerosmith


Share your goal, tips and favorite workout playlist with us! We want to hear about your struggles and success. The most beautiful part about life is getting it to do it alongside each other. Email AllysarHassan@gmail with your story!




Ashley Shih has lived on the Space Coast for the past 5 years, and she can be seen training for marathons on the beaches of Brevard.  Her goal is to share the ups and downs of her fitness experiences with readers in order to help them with their lifestyle goals. Please email her with questions or feedback at ashleyerin.shih@gmail.com.