Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
Hola! I’m Dakota, age 25, and I was born and raised in a very small town in West Virginia. Growing up, I spent most of my time outdoors, playing the violin and piano, and participating in basketball and tennis. I went to college at West Virginia State University where I received my bachelor’s in History and a minor in Political Science. I am currently an Assistant Manager at a convenience store, but working towards becoming a certified personal trainer. A couple of my favorite things are lifting weights and adventuring to anywhere and everywhere!
What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?
The fact that it’s an outlet. Depression is a bully and sometimes it’s hard to be proud of yourself. The gym is the one place that I can get my mind off of life and focus solely on one thing, along with seeing results and know that I have accomplished what I wanted.
How long have you been into fitness?
Back in high school (around 2007-2009) I lifted on the regular, but I did not take it serious. I lifted hard, but I would grab Mexican across the street after the workout was over. I got back into it religiously in November 2016.
How did you get into fitness?
Unfortunately, alcoholism was controlling my life. Drinking was my outlet and it was a 6-12 pack every day. A 24-hour treatment center took me in where I learned about coping mechanisms, and I continued regularly to see my therapist which kept insisting that I find a new hobby to keep myself occupied. I did not set out for the gym to be a hobby, but my cousin invited me one day to lift with her, and I agreed just so I had someone to hang out with. That first day brought a sense of “everything is going to be okay.” I had a turn for the better and I have been going to the gym 5-6 days a week ever since.
What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?
I don’t think that there was an initial turning point. Within the first week, I knew that I needed to take it serious. However, creating a fitness Instagram account has really helped me buckle down even more. People are looking up to me and always messaging me for advice. I can’t be a contradiction and not take things serious when I am constantly being held accountable by my Instagram. It definitely gives me that extra push!
How has fitness impacted your life?
Fitness saved me, and I mean that in the most serious manner. The road that I was going down could have easily killed me, and fitness brought me out of that.
What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?
* First step is to GET OUT THERE. Anxiety rules a lot of individuals that are terrified to do something as simple as walk into a gym. Trust me–a lot of people don’t have the first clue as to what they are doing, but they do it anyways. You WILL learn!
* ASK QUESTIONS! Do not hesitate to ask someone what they are doing, what machine they are using, etc. Chances are that you will make another gym-goer feel good that they had the chance to help someone.
* DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED. This especially comes to diet. I promise, we ALL fall off the wagon at some point. I think I ate literally nothing but pure sugar for a solid month. Just let it be a month though, and not ruin your forever fitness journey!
* PROGRESS PICTURES. This is so important. Progress will keep you motivated, and at first you won’t even be able to see that you’re getting positive results. Once a month take a picture, and take a glance at a three month difference. You will be totally surprised.
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