I spent the last eight years strapped to the gym.
Obsessed with pursuit of that summer six-pack, I bobbed up and down on the elliptical like there was no tomorrow.
I thought the only way to work off the third slice of avocado toast was to pound the treadmill for an hour and lift weights.
I never got results, no matter how many times I switched up my routine or weight-loss guides.
Then, I changed my entire game plan.
These are the six ways swapping the gym for the outdoors helped me lose weight:
1. With the savings on gym membership, I bought better equipment.
I had the cheapest gym membership my club offered, but over the course of 12 months, it was still adding up to a couple hundred bucks.
Every month, it was pretty much a choice between new shoes and my student loan payment, so guess which one I picked?
When I quit the gym, I enjoyed some extra savings right away.
I got myself new training shoes and immediately started performing better.
I jumped higher and ran faster because my ankles didn't hurt anymore. I even had some change left over to invest in good energy bars to snack on while hiking in the mountains.
2. Exercise didn't feel like a chore, so I did it more often
If you wake up at 7 am to hit the gym before your desk job, you know what true pain is.
Instead of being inside a sweaty room with 30 other people, I laced up my shoes every morning and went to the nearby hiking trail instead.
Walking uphill burns major calories and tones your entire legs, and walking downhill is pure bliss.
I also didn't have to force myself to exercise anymore. It happened spontaneously.
I lost about a pound a week by simply going to the park and jumping rope after work. I carry my rope everywhere with me during the week and whip it out when I've got a few minutes to spare.
This is an incredible way to tone your whole body, and it's ultra convenient.
3. I stopped overeating.
Though this is a more psychological reason, when I exclusively exercised at the gym, I was overeating because I thought just showing up and working out meant I needed the extra calories.
I plateaued big time and saw no difference, and I simply ate more.
I felt miserable.
For me, though, hiking or running outside doesn't feel like a workout. I feel like I'm taking care of my body and looking at scenic views or observing people going about their business.
So, the end result is that after exercising outside, you don't feel like you've been training.
It just feels like another part of your routine, and so you don't overeat under the logic that you're working it all off anyway.
4. I started doing more full-body workouts.
If you work out outside, you can make any place your gym.
I experimented with new workouts and started doing yoga at the beach and at the park.
Yoga is a vital exercise for our bodies because it teaches us to accept them just the way they are.
Every weight-loss process requires us to do it with love, not hate, and being kind to your body is a major weight-loss key.
5. I got a work-out buddy.
I always asked friends in the past to come to the gym with me, but no one wanted.
Why? Well, the gym doesn't sound like much fun.
It's pretty boring in comparison to an invite to hike up the mountain and take some shots for the 'Gram.
I got not one, but two friends to come exercise out with me every Saturday. Plus, I got some great Insta stories.
6. I stopped comparing myself to others.
The gym is full of all kinds of people. You have the sexy trainers with sculpted arms, insanely toned 20-somethings and huge dudes with six-packs.
I felt bad about not being slim and toned enough in compared to everyone else. Then, I realized it wasn't my fault; it was the gym environment.
At the gym, we silently compete with each other. We all check each other out, but outside, we don't do that.
The struggles of running out in the rain or HIIT on the sandy beach unite us, and we feel like a team instead.
You not only lose weight, but you get a sense of community, too.
Needless to say, I'm never going back to the gym.