Site icon Sarah Marandi-Steeves, LCSW, PLLC

How I Fell In Love With Fitness And Found Inner Happiness

I love working out. No, seriously, I LOVE working out. I love it so much that I plan out my workouts ahead of time each week and put them into my calendar. I suggest working out as a way to hang out with my friends. I am even writing an entire blog post about why I love it so much, so you know it’s serious. But here’s the thing, I didn’t always love it. In fact, I hated it and would cry when my parents forced me to do anything physical (true story.) Growing up, I was that kid who didn’t play any sports. Looking back, I really didn’t do anything physical. I didn’t participate in gym class unless forced. The only dance class I ever took was in first grade for a hot second. My only cardio was shopping, but even then I complained about having to walk from store to store while holding heavy bags (the horror). So, you can imagine the lifestyle I led. Unhealthy, overweight, unhappy, and even worse self-confidence. So, what changed? How did I go from hating fitness to making fitness part of my everyday routine? I made small changes, shifted my mindset, and found my inner happiness through moving my body.

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself that this sounds easier said than done, and you’re right. My love/hate relationship with fitness was a 15+ year journey and is still something I am consciously mindful of each day. We live in a world where instant gratification is ingrained in us. We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, and we want it all NOW. But that’s not realistic and anything worth having is going to take time. Changing your lifestyle starts with small, attainable changes which then lead to bigger changes along the way. If you go into your fitness goals expecting big, instant results, you’ll likely be disappointed as well as be more likely to give up on your goals as a result.

When I first started my fitness journey, it was because I was being dragged to aerobic kickboxing classes with my mom. By the time I was 16 I was in such an unhealthy space, my mom basically forced me to move my body but she did it in a way which was smart. She did it with me. So even though I dreaded going, it was fun to spend time with my mom a few nights a week. And let’s be honest, if I had to go alone, I wouldn’t have gone. My mom motivated me, encouraged me, supported me, and most importantly didn’t pressure me to perform in any particular way. She just wanted me to move and enjoy myself. This didn’t come naturally as I am completely uncoordinated, have zero rhythm, and when everyone was bobbing left, I went right. But, this was a big learning experience for me because it forced me out of my comfort zone and I had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I always hated classes because I thought everyone was going to be staring at me and judging me but in reality, no one cared about what I was doing because they were too focused on not dying themselves. After sticking with this for a while, I began to see results. Not at first, but in time. I was losing weight, becoming physically healthier, and surprise-surprise, my mood improved, too. 

Fast forward a bit to when I discovered pilates, which was another pivotal moment in my fitness journey as it taught me how to move my body in a different way and I instantly fell in love with the practice. Then I joined a gym. Then I dabbled with yoga. Then I eventually transitioned to more intense forms of fitness such as hiking, spinning, and running. BUT, here’s what ended up happening; throughout my journey I saw results, felt good….and then stopped. Why? Because I still hated working out. I liked the way I felt afterwards and I liked the results I saw, but I still hated it and had to really push myself to move. It still felt like something I had to do vs. something I wanted to do.

I also had the mindset of “Okay, I met my goal, now I’m done” and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Reaching our goals is one thing, maintaining them is quite another. I was stuck in that yo-yo phase where my weight would go up and down, up and down. My mood would go up and down, up and down. Then I realized that the reason this kept happening was because I wasn’t making long term goals for myself. I wasn’t thinking about lifestyle changes, but instead about how I could change something specific in that moment. It wasn’t until I started focusing on how I felt vs. how I looked that my love for fitness truly started. 

When I focused solely on my appearance, I realized I was never going to be happy. I needed to find happiness within and I needed to stop focusing on my outside appearance. This wasn’t an easy task and took a lot of soul-searching along the way, but once I was able to accept myself for who I was, flaws and all, amazing things started to happen. I started to be more in tune to what did make me happy and working out actually did make me happy. It was a time, just for me, to zone out and focus on one thing at a time. It was a way for me to relieve pent-up stress and frustration. It was a way for me to clear my mind. It was a time for me to listen to my favorite music. It was a time for me to build strength and endurance, both physically and mentally. 

This was such a parallel to life.

In life, nothing comes easy. We need to push ourselves and fight for the things we want to accomplish. We have times where we want to give up. We have times where we feel like we can’t go on. We have times where we feel like our goals are out of reach. All of the same things we feel during a workout. I began to feel so empowered during my workouts once I shifted my mindset. I mean, think about it, I went from being the girl who did NOTHING to all of a sudden being able to do all of these physical activities which always seemed so out of reach.

I realized I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

By not only accomplishing my fitness goals, but maintaining those goals, I realized I could achieve all of my personal, academic, and career goals too. This was the mindset shift that changed my life. Fitness no longer felt like something I had to do, but instead something I looked forward to doing. It became my solace. It became fun. It became a stress reliever instead of a stress contributor. And I learned something so powerful along the way: HOW TO BE HAPPY. These powerful mindset shifts and changes I made throughout this journey opened doors to so much more self-improvement, self-love, and self-care. I truly don’t believe I would be the person I am today if it hadn’t been for my fitness journey along the way. 

If you are someone who is looking to incorporate fitness into your routine but are struggling with how to do so, here are my top 10 tips to get you started:

I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!

If you are interested in learning more about my therapy services, check out my website HERE. Seeking mental health services can be daunting and if you are finding my posts resonate with you, it is likely you are feeling ready to take that next step to work on leading a happier, healthier life! I would LOVE to support you in starting this journey and welcome you to send me an email at

ALSO! Check out my FREE “How Do I know If Therapy Is Right For Me” printable to start the process of deciding whether or not taking this next step is right for YOU! Just add your name + email address below and you will receive an email with a link to your FREEBIE!


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Be Well,


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