The 15 Things I Wish I Knew at the Beginning of My Weight Loss Journey: Part 2

By: Raquel Phillips


I have been struggling with weight loss in the past three years since having our sixth son at thirty-five. Although I had previously considered myself pretty fit, it was not until after this pregnancy, while I was trying to figure out why I felt so bad physically and struggled to lose weight for the first time, that I truly began my fitness journey. Since the start of that journey, I have discovered a few things that truly mattered in prioritizing my health and deciding the quality of life I truly wanted to live as I approach 40. This is part 2 of the 15 things that I feel have been the most essential in understanding how to lose weight, change my mindset, and change my life. 


6.) How To Make The Most Out of Personal Training 

If you can afford to work with a trainer, do it even if it's just a few sessions. Working with a professional means that someone has eyes on your form and movement mechanics. Having someone to see how you are moving and tell you how to correct your movements will make your journey easier. Also, a professional can write a program that is specific to your body and your goals. Using an app or a generalized plan can be very effective; however, it is usually much more efficient to have a program written for you.


Furthermore, having someone there for accountability and motivation sometimes makes a world of difference when you are struggling to get started. When working with a trainer or fitness professional, don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, educate yourself about the things discussed and about your program. You do not have to be an expert, but having a general understanding of the program and how your body works will help you mentally buy into the program and better understand how to progress. 


Most times, when working with a pro or watching fitness content, the professional will tell you the target of the exercise. During training, I was often given an exercise and was told the target muscle but immediately knew that I did not feel the movement in the targeted area. By default, I would repeatedly ask, "Now, where am I supposed to feel this?" I have now learned that a better strategy for personal development would have been to ask the professional to give me cues on my form. Here's the thing, you may not feel an exercise where you are supposed to because the mechanics of your body need re-aligning. In addition, you may have been using another muscle in that range of motion because the target muscle was weak, or you may simply not have the mind-body connection to squeeze that muscle because it has been so long since you used it. 


The beauty of the journey is that once you know how to do an exercise correctly and practice it repeatedly, in conjunction with other movements that target your deficiencies, you will eventually build the supporting muscles necessary to feel the target muscles of that movement. In addition, the more you do the movement correctly, the more you will be able to isolate the target muscle and focus on it for growth or build your mind-body connection. 


A strong example of this for me was my glutes. At the beginning of my fitness journey, I would feel it everywhere except my glutes for every exercise I did to target my glutes. I discovered this was from having sat so much in the prior two years and issues with my range of motion in my hips and ankles. However, the more I practiced these exercises, the more I would begin to feel my glutes when I was supposed to. And surprisingly, I even saw glute growth from when I was doing the exercise and thought I was not feeling it in my glutes. So it is imperative to focus on form and movement patterns.


7.) To Have A Fitness Goal That Is Not Weight Loss 

When I started on this journey, I was obsessed with the scale. Instead of using it as a tool to tweak and monitor by fitness program, I used it as my sole measure of success. If the scale went down, I felt like my diet and exercise were successful. If the scale went up, I felt like a failure, and sometimes I lost motivation, giving up on trying to work out for weeks at a time. I have weighed myself less frequently since I obtained my personal trainer certification. Overall, since I started this journey almost two years ago, I can confidently say that I have lost and kept off 50 lbs; however, that is no longer my sole measure of success. Even if you're thin and have incredible athletic genetics, the scale changes from day to day. If you ask your favorite fitness expert or person who has your dream body, they will tell you that their weight fluctuates. That is why when you are desperate to lose weight, using the scale as your sole goal is very dangerous. Dangerous to your motivation and your mental health. However, having a goal other than the scale has enabled me to wake up every day and realize that my fitness journey is every single day of this life. For example, some goals I have set for myself over the past few months were as follows: 


— Run a 5k without stopping 

— Do ten unassisted back lying leg lifts 

— Do one unassisted pull-up

— Carry my toddler for a half-mile or more 

— Sit on my knees without excruciating pain 


These were just a few of my goals. I am happy to report that I ran my first 5k in over five years in October of this year. Additionally, my time was better than any practice run I had done in the months prior. I can do ten unassisted back-lying leg lifts. I can carry my toddler for a half-mile, and I can officially sit on my knees as of last week. I am still working on getting one unassisted pull-up. So, every day I wake up, I am excited about my workouts, even when the scale does not say what I want. If I am always goal-oriented, I have learned that I will have a small win to look back on when I feel like giving up, and I will have a small success to look forward to in the future. It takes the personally applied pressure off being a certain weight. 


The more, the more I worked toward and focused on my non-weight goals; even during the weeks or months when I did not lose 1 pound, I was still able to celebrate. Also, my body composition still began to change, regardless of the scale not decreasing. 



8.) The Importance of a Program That You Like

It is not my recommendation to choose a gym or program because it is trendy or looks exciting. The best thing you can do is choose a gym or a program that you enjoy. If you hate running, do not choose a program run by a track star that focuses on building fitness for running. If you know you will not lift weights and have tried using machines and did not enjoy it, then look for a bodyweight program, a resistance band program, or even a Barre gym or pilates studio. 


With that being said, if you do not know what you like, do not be afraid to try something (don't forget to give it time)and decide if it is for you. The important part is that if you decide you hate a specific modality, you immediately begin another. Your fitness journey is forever. It needs to be something you are okay with doing most days, even every day. That is not to say that you will love doing it every day. It will be hard, and you will not feel like doing it some days. However, after you finish, you should feel invigorated and accomplished. For me, the sweet spot has been getting equipment that I like to use and creating a functional and convenient home gym to build my life around it. Nothing is suitable for every person, and it does not have to be; find what is right for you. 



9.) Beating Yourself Up Is Not Necessary

When I started my fitness journey, I did not understand that you do not have to beat up your body and push yourself to exhaustion in every workout to see progress. Yes, you will work hard and be uncomfortable, but you do not have to push yourself to the max. You can choose to have super intense sessions if that's your inclination; however, they are not equivalent to your success or even to seeing steady weight loss. 


10.) Learn How To Work Out at Home 

One thing that 2020 taught me was that you should have some means of working out at home no matter the structure of your life or your budget. 

You do not need an expensive home gym. There are inexpensive resistance bands, medicine balls, jump ropes, kettlebells, etc., available. 


However, even if you have no equipment, you can do a workout at home with a device and YouTube. You can train using bodyweight, park equipment, even household items. Life happens fast, and having an idea of what to do at home and equipment to use at home if there's ever a scenario where you cannot get to your gym or usual activities makes all the difference. 

Read Part 1:

Read Part 3:

Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, certified group fitness instructor, and entrepreneur. She is a wife and mother of 6 amazing children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.


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