The Key to Actually Losing Weight, According to Fitness Guru Massy Arias

If you're a regular in the fitness scene, chances are you've come across the name Massy Arias while scrolling through Instagram. As a personal trainer, mother, and the brand ambassador for Target's C9 Champion line, Massy has accumulated quite the notable fan base through the years — more than 2 million social media followers, to be exact. It's certainly easy to see why Massy is a household name among gym-goers — she has the yummiest healthy recipe ideas, the craziest exercises that go outside the norm, and a wealth of inspirational vibes to share. (Plus, her daughter Indira is almost too adorable for words!)

We sat down with the fitness guru to chat about motherhood, mental health, and her favorite ab exercise (spoiler alert: it's lateral bear crawls!), and we walked away feeling fueled with enough motivation to power us through the year.

Though she's adamant about working out for overall health (both physical and mental) rather than for the aesthetic purposes, Massy did offer up some words of wisdom that certainly apply to anyone who's seeking to drop a few pounds. The key to whipping your body into shape lies in setting doable goals you can actually accomplish in an allotted time frame, she explained. In other words: baby steps!

Massy said she's noticed how many people dive head-first into new healthy-eating or exercising routines, immediately swapping burgers for spinach salads and leisurely walks for two-mile sprints. But that's not exactly the way to go if you're just starting out.

"For my beginners, if you set progressive, sustainable goals that are attainable, you're not only going to fall in love with it slowly, but you're giving yourself reasonable goals that you can actually achieve as opposed to setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic goals that you know you're not gonna be accomplishing," she told POPSUGAR. "My thing is progress, not perfection."

"My thing is progress, not perfection."

So what exactly should these goals look like? Massy broke things down for us by first focusing on goal-setting from a nutritional perspective and then discussing what it means for your exercise regimen.

"From a nutritional standpoint, if you're eating McDonald's and Lunchables every single day and drinking soda and being unhealthy, what makes you feel like years of unhealthiness are going to be completely erased in one day?" she joked. Instead, she suggested working healthy foods into your diet little by little. "If you start by just drinking more water, taking out the soda, just bringing in a little more fruit or one serving of vegetables, or cutting out McDonald's . . . slowly, your body is going to adjust and start craving all these things that are good for you because if you eat well, that's what your body is going to start to crave," she said.

Massy admitted that she struggled with this process when she started her personal fitness journey. "I'm Dominican and I love my Caribbean cooking, so it was really, really hard for me to get out of that and start eating things that I never thought I would eat," she told us while sipping on a smoothie packed with turmeric, ginger, kale, pea protein, and garlic, just to name a few nutritious ingredients. "How do you get to that point? It's not by going cold turkey; it's baby steps."

"How do you get to that point? It's not by going cold turkey; it's baby steps."

The same goes for your workout routine, Massy told us. "From an exercise standpoint, if you're starting with running, which most people start with, just start with jogging [instead]," she said. Going back to the whole idea of setting "sustainable goals," Massy said fitness newbies can't expect to go from only being able to do two push-ups to being able to do 30 consecutively in one week. Planning out short-term goals will make you see exercise in a positive light rather than associating it with negative vibes if you're constantly getting discouraged by not meeting goals that were unattainable in the first place. Again, baby steps are vital — especially ones that are realistic.

Speaking of babies (well, kind of), Massy explained how this same mentality especially applies to new moms who may be struggling to bounce back after giving birth. Even Massy, who was doing one-arm push-ups at 37 weeks pregnant, admitted to taking a much-needed breather after she gave birth to her baby daughter earlier this year — and she advises all other mamas to do the same.

"I think the biggest advice I have for new moms is just to take it easy," she told us. "As a new mom, there are so many new roles that you're gonna be taking on that it's overwhelming, and I think women just have to trust the process." She continued, "Take your time; it's a process. Do it little by little because the weight is gonna come off if you do it right." Ain't that the truth!

Because Massy is so chock-full of must-hear advice, we couldn't resist mentioning her helpful tidbits about staying motivated. She noted how many people assume workouts "don't hurt" her because she makes them look so easy — but the truth is quite the contrary.

"When I'm doing a workout, I'm just thinking, 'OK, I'm only gonna get faster, or do more push-ups or pull-ups. This 30 seconds of pain shall pass, but the reward after it beats out the 30 seconds that I have to be really struggling. This moment will pass and you will not die,'" she said, explaining what exact thoughts are going through her head as she struggles through any given workout. "If you're working toward getting one more pull-up or push-up or lifting 10 more pounds, let that be your motivation, because strength is beautiful, and you're gonna find out things about yourself that you've never thought you had in you. Give yourself the chance to find out who this inner beast is. Allow yourself to be dope."