I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with ZUM member and client Billy Morales to chat about fitness and training. Billy and I have been working together since the beginning of this year, and I could not be more proud of his hard work and the progress he’s made. Aside from the accomplishment of losing over 50 lbs. and gaining strength in the process, the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of Billy’s personality have been obvious since our first day of working together. Below are excerpts of our chat, conducted at ZUM’s partner Sweetgrass Food Co:
Ta Wei Tsai (TW): Billy, thanks for chatting with me! Would you mind sharing with me some of the differences between how your body feels now, compared to before you started working out?
Billy Morales (BM): The main differences are that I feel more comfortable in my own skin, as well as clothes that I normally wouldn’t wear before. I feel that the confidence I’ve gained [through the results of the training] have translated into other parts of my life as well–because of the confidence I project, people are more inclined to approach me and strike up a conversation.
In addition, I feel, in general, more motivated about life in an overall sense. Just like how I’ve set goals in fitness, I’ve been able to apply that goal-setting towards my life outside of the gym. Once I’ve improved one aspect of my life, it improves all other aspects altogether.
TW: That’s awesome! While no two individuals’ stories are identical, I’m curious about what motivated you to kick-start the journey of investing in your health and wellness?
BM: In the past I’ve always had these false starts, something would happen–like falling into bad diet habits–and I’d fall off the wagon, so to speak. Thinking that I’ve messed up, I’d try to get back on track again, but never do it. After trying that for many times, I’ve decided now is the time to set my foot down and just commit to it.
The fact that I’ve done it this long this time–before, the longest stretch was three months–helps a lot. Sometimes life gets in the way, but if you let things interfere with your goals in health, it’s always easy to fall back in the old ways. The difference this time is that I made it a priority to do it for the long run.
TW: Word, Billy. After you’ve made up your mind to commit to making changes, was it easy right away to establish a routine of working out and eating healthy?
BM: As far as working out goes, it helps to have someone there to hold me accountable. You and I meet twice a week, and I feel like I have to be there for those sessions, even when I’m unmotivated.
As far as food goes, I still enjoy some not so healthy food once in a while, but I’ve learned to hone into how my body feels on things that doesn’t make it feel quite as good.
TW: Did it take you a while to establish the routines for both the workouts and diet?
BM: Yes, I took baby steps. When I first started, I would only be there for the [twice a week] training sessions; as I felt more and more energetic, I started going [to ZUM] more and more, now three or four times a week regularly.
Food-wise, it was the same with fitness: small changes go a long way. I’ve consciously cut out refined sugar and added more vegetables to my diet. Seeing results through those small changes keeps me motivated.
TW: It really is inspiring for me as a coach to see your progress, and to have the chance to work with you, Billy. If someone were to be on the fence about working with a coach, what would you say to them?
BM: As someone who was new to fitness, one of my primary concerns was injury as I got older. Having someone to point out my form really helps a lot, and enables me to go on and do other endeavors in life–like CrossFit classes, for example–safely.
Like I said earlier, with the accountability of a coach, you’ll still show up even when feeling demotivated. In some ways, I feel like you’re like my priest that I confessed my diet sins to from time to time as well.
TW: Hahahaha, I’ve heard you said that before (about confessing the diet sins)! While it’s easy to just focus on the result, fitness really is an ongoing journey for all of us; what are some of the challenges you’ve faced on this journey, and how did you tackle them?
BM: I think the biggest challenge has been motivation. At the beginning it was easy, as I saw drastic changes in my body in the first three or four months. Now that my body composition has changed drastically, the weight has sort of stayed the same recently. In turn, I’m paying attention to more than just what the scale says. I’m lifting heavier, and I have more energy pursuing outdoor activities that I haven’t done before.
TW: Thank you for sharing that, Billy. To wrap up our chat, what tips and advice would you give others who are either contemplating, or in the process of, making changes in their lifestyles to become healthier?
BM: First of all, if you’re waiting for something in order to start, don’t. The best time to start is now.
Second, one of the biggest things that kept me away from the gym for awhile was being afraid of being judged by others at the gym. It turns out a lot of it was just in my head. Even if people are looking at you, they’re probably looking at you in a positive way, secretly cheering for your success.
Lastly, if you want to see really good progress, you have to make lifestyle changes. It’s not something that you can temporarily do. It’s okay to fall off the wagon at times, but as long as you’re aware of it, don’t let that discourage you from getting back on track.
TW: Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Billy–those are fantastic tips. Last thing: is there one thing that you’re doing now that you wanted to do, but weren’t, before you started training?
BM: Yes, actually! I’ve just started taking interpretive street style dance classes. It’s something that I felt too self-conscious or not fit enough to do before. I’m having a lot of fun and loving it now!