You’re heard it all. Get to the gym if you want a beach body. If you want to get healthy. If you want more energy. If you want to lose a pants size (or five). If you are coming off years (or even just months) of inactivity, you are going to need something stronger than your desire to sit on the couch and eat potato chips. And this looks different for everyone.
For YEARS after I graduated college, I went on this up and down roller coaster of emotion regarding my weight. I desperately wanted to look like one of those adorable petite girls at the beach in their teeny bikinis, instead of walking around in my bathing suit with my thighs causing a forest fire with all their friction and attempting to suck in the 30 pounds in my stomach I’d put on since high school. Every single time I put on clothes in the morning, I desperately wished I looked (and felt) different. But apparently not desperate enough to actually DO anything about it.
There have been spurts of effort, like the time I did step aerobics for about six months in the basement gym of our local rec center. Or the time I went running once. Or the time I bought insanely expensive Pilates videos and had to move every single piece of furniture in my adorable (read: impossibly small) apartment just to get through one video. I wanted the results SO bad, but didn’t acknowledge the fact that it would be a lifetime commitment, not just a weekend energy burst.
Even while I was operating in my rare “fitness modes”, I was eating Jack in the Box for dinner and Subway when I really wanted to be healthy. I had absolutely zero understanding of what a balanced lifestyle looked like. I just wanted results. Deep down, I think I’ve always known that the quick fixes didn’t work, which is why I always started with exercise. I’m not a pill popper or necessarily a trend or fad-follower and knew what it would take to get the results, I just had no idea what would keep me on the road to where I wanted to go. All too often, I would start a program and then lose interest, lose motivation, get too sweaty or just want to go out and have a beer with my friends.
What in heavens name was going to get this to stick? The hamster wheel was getting exhausting.
What got me started on this final (final?? most recent??) road was a fluke. After our second son was born, I was feeling understandably frustrated about my alien body. Things didn’t sit the same, look the same, feel the same. I broke a sweat moving from the couch to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Out of the blue one day, I decided to announce to my dear blog readers that I AM STARTING A FITNESS REGIMEN. Lordy. Then you guys were all “Tell us about it. I want to hear about how it goes. Show us pictures”. Now apparently you expected me to follow through.
In a fit of ambition (and a little rage at all of you), I bought Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred. The first
day month was awful. I’m not joking. My joints didn’t seem to remember how to work together. Flopping around like a fish out of water while sweating enough to stave off the world’s largest drought does not inspire anyone. Quite literally, I thought I was not going to survive the 25 minutes needed to finish the video. Spoiler alert. I survived. And then miraculously made it out of bed for day 2. Day 3 happened about a week later. 30 days is a complete misnomer. Your first time will take you at least 60 days. If it doesn’t, you’re dead to me. Or I’m proud of you. Either way.
After the first round of dear Jillian, I gave it another go at the higher level. There are some exercises with very small hand weights and somewhere along the road, I realized I liked doing something other than cardio. Cardio exercises suck the life and the love and the soul out of me. So my husband and I commiserated and decided we would both give another program a go, this time something that would prepare me for lifting my giant toddler man-children instead of just a bag of carrots at Costco. We sweated and cursed and yelled and died our way through P90X and then miserably slogged through Insanity (so much jumping!).
What I learned from all of this cursing and dying is that I really enjoyed having a muscle or two in my arms. I was motivated (and a little inspired) when I could bump up the amount of weight I was using in a workout. Cardio could take a leap off a bridge, but this weight lifting stuff was fun. From that day forward, I vowed to never take a step aerobics class again in my life. Obviously not cutting it for me.
A good friend of mine had been trying to convince me for MONTHS to try CrossFit. I was terrified and intimidated and felt like I had to pee every time I even thought about making the commitment. The first day I went in and realized they would let me lift weights (with a barbell and huge plates! like a real weight lifter!), I was hooked. Screw all the other stuff that comes with CrossFit, that was just noise to me. Give me something heavy. Or not at all heavy like in the beginning. CrossFit gave me the chance to do the things I loved, peppered with eight million other types of workouts that kept me from getting bored. Apparently my attention span is very small.
There are two things that keep me coming back to CrossFit. The amazing social aspect of it is like a drug. The community is like nothing I have ever been a part of. Second, I get to go back every day and try to be better than I was the day before. And there is quantifiable data to track. Did I lift more? Did I do two or three more pull-ups this time around? Was I a little faster in my 400 meter run? I don’t go there to lose weight (although that’s a bonus), I go to get better.
Looking better in my jeans is not what gets me out the door every day, I go to get better. Because, if I’m being completely honest, jeans barely fit my CrossFit thighs and booty these days. But that’s another story for another day.
I go to get better. Not to look better. Sometimes not even to feel better (although I always do). I go to get better. And that’s what drags my sluggish behind in the gym every single time.
I’m not in any way, shape or form telling you that CrossFit is what will work for you. I’m telling you it is what works for me. After a LONG journey of trying to find what keeps me motivated, intrigued and going back for more, I’ve found it. I had to try so many different things before I found what stuck.
Although looking better and wanting to get healthy are completely admirable goals, I strongly feel that they are too vague and general to keep us motivated. My motivation is intrinsic and is fueled by a desire to compete with myself. And to compete with the people working out next to me.
Your motivation may be different. Maybe you struggle to pick your kids up and can only carry them on your hip for 30 seconds before you feel like you will drop them. Maybe the fact that you start to sweat when you try on jeans in the dressing room makes you want roll up in a ball and cry. Maybe you do roll up in a ball and cry. Maybe you just know there is something better for you in this life than hiding behind your next quart of ice cream. These are not empowering feelings. I get these things. I understand these things. I have been all of these things.
You need to find YOUR motivation. Most likely, just losing a few pounds before summer comes barreling around again is not going to get it done. We need to find something you enjoy. Something that turns into a lifestyle, not necessarily just a means to an end. I’m not saying you need to become a body builder or a personal trainer. But exercise and fitness need to turn into a routine part of your day, like eating or dropping the kids off at school. It can’t be the dreaded “i never want to go back but i have to because that’s what i’m supposed to do but i’d rather die” event of your day. Unless it’s your first day of Jillian Michaels, than I totally allow it.
If you have found your motivation to get and stay fit, please share with us. Is it how you look, how you feel, the time you get to yourself, the energy you have?
If you are still struggling to find a place for fitness in your life, what do you think is holding you back?
Anyone else start with dear Jillian? Was it just me that wanted to die in the beginning?
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