Starting your weight-loss journey

More than six years ago, I made the decision to completely alter my life and get healthy. At 247 pounds, I was very ashamed that I’d let myself go the way I had — which not only drastically limited me physically, but the weight gain also opened me up to certain medical conditions that run in my family, like Type 2 dabetes and heart disease. After a move from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in 2005, I was very disappointed that I couldn’t explore my new city the way I wanted to, due to the excessive weight gain. Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

As a busy woman who worked anywhere from 40-60 hours per week, my biggest initial challenge was finding the time to exercise. Regardless, I decided to join 12th Street Gym, and this decision forever changed my life. I dedicated at least one hour each day to my workouts, five-six days per week, and limited my calorie intake. At 110 pounds lighter, I remain passionate about health and wellness. The following is a list of tips that I applied to my own life throughout my journey and that I hope will help other “busy, working people” such as myself in starting and continuing an exercise program, as well as a healthier lifestyle.

1. Schedule your workout time just like you would schedule anything else that’s important to you. Don’t give yourself an option of “canceling.” The likelihood of you canceling on an important work meeting or your best friend’s birthday party is slim, so treat your workouts with the same level of importance. 2. Remind yourself, daily, that YOU are the most important person in your life. This might sound a bit selfish — but it’s not. One of the greatest lessons that I learned through my journey is that if I don’t feel good about myself, then I can’t be of any good to anybody else.

3. Hire a personal trainer at a gym like 12th Street or 12FIT on the fifth floor of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. They can show you how to work the machines at the gym, give you workout plans that will help you to meet your goals and provide you with the support that you need.

4. Count calories with a fitness app, such as Lose It! or MyFitnessPal.

5. Write down a list of the healthy foods that you like to eat on a regular basis, and build your breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners around those foods. Prepare meals in advance so that you’re not scrambling to find healthy meal options before, during or after work and social functions.

6. Finally, seek the support of your family, friends, coworkers and others in your community. Let them know that you’re serious about your goals and the journey that it will take you to get there. You might even get a workout buddy out of it!

Ellen Olstein is a certified cycling instructor/marketing and business coordinator at 12th Street Gym. For more information about 12th Street Gym, visit