Confession time- I am a former gym membership dropout queen. I have 10 workout DVD’s, only 2 of which I ever used. I used to say the phrase, “I will only run if I am being chased by someone with a knife.”
Guess what? People change. Who has two thumbs and works out 3-4 times a week? This lady! Now, I know that many of you exercise way more often than that, but 3-4 times a week consistently for two and a half years is an accomplishment for me. I spent my 20’s happily eating whatever I wanted and working out in phases lasting no longer than a few months. I vividly remember gathering up courage and energy to attend a fitness class 10 years ago, at the ripe old age of 24. My stomach cramped up, I couldn’t breathe, and eventually I walked out. I was so embarrassed that people much older than me had a level of fitness far stronger than mine. I got busy with life and never made exercise much of a priority.
It was after having my third child that things were just not going back to the “before” pregnancy state quite so well. Having three kids was kicking my butt, and my energy level and physical state showed it. I realized that I couldn’t and shouldn’t keep ignoring my body and think that it would continue to function. I knew that exercise would help me. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Can you relate? I never thought I could have accomplished what I have in the last two and an half years. It has been a process. There are physical steps and there are mental steps. The physical steps are best outlined here. The mental steps that it took for me to make exercise a consistent reality in my life are listed below. Fellow Quad City mamas, you can evolve too.
MENTAL STEPS TO BECOME AN EXERCISER
1. Figure out the “where” and “when” that will actually make it possible to exercise.
For me, the exercise DVD’s at home weren’t working. I was too sleep deprived to wake up before the kids to exercise. Then, if I tried while the kids were awake I was getting ridden while attempting pushups or scared they would get hit with my flailing limbs during a cardio peak. I quickly figured out that to sustain an exercise plan I must utilize a gym with childcare. I knew it had to be close to our home because I didn’t want my crew falling asleep on the way and wrecking any nap potential for later in the day. The local YMCA fit all of my criteria, and that is where my evolution began.
2. Try out a variety of exercise options to find one or more that you actually like.
I got so bored on a treadmill or bike. The minutes I entered into the machine seemed to last forever! I was too self-conscious to use the weight machines. So, I decided to try some classes. Everyone kept saying how much I would love Zumba. Well, Zumba is great for a lot of people. I, on the other hand looked like someone trying to escape killer bees. It felt like show choir on speed. Not cute.
But, I was determined to find something that worked. I didn’t want to give up again. In a last ditch effort, I tried a weight lifting class called BodyPump. I LOVED IT! The instructors were awesome! They gave detailed directions and taught me proper form. After a few weeks, I felt stronger, and was able to add more weight on my bar. Don’t get me wrong, it was rough. For the first time in my life I was willingly making myself sore. I mean really sore. One day, after a killer bicep and tricep workout, it was easier to lower my head to eat off my fork than it was to raise my fork to my mouth.
After a while I knew that I needed to add a cardio component to get the energy boost I was craving. I tried BodyStep, and to be honest I almost threw up during the first class (tip of the day- do not eat right before a cardio class). For me, BodyStep was easier to follow than Zumba. I enjoyed the instructors, and they even learned my name and called out to spur me on when I needed it.
Final thought on this is to keep trying. Don’t be defeated. Find what works for you, and it will stick.
3. Examine your choice of exercise to see if it produces the results you want.
I remember the day that I wondered if they had changed the mirrors in the YMCA. I caught a glimpse of my reflection and noticed a positive change. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and my arms looked awesome. Humble admission, not so much, but I had never thought of myself as strong before. I was amazed at what my body had accomplished. Just that realization alone was enough to keep me coming back. It was working. You don’t give up so easily when you see the results of hard work begin to pay off.
If you have been trying the same type of exercise for awhile and you are not seeing results (increased endurance, stamina, or muscle tone), it may be time to change it up.
4. Setbacks will happen. Don’t quit.
During the last two and a half years that I have exercised consistently, I overcame an injured shoulder, exercised induced migraines, twisted knee, sprained foot, and had gum surgery twice as well. Any of those reasons could have derailed me. Instead, I committed to coming back each time. Did it stink to build up stamina and strength I had lost? Yes! Putting those dinky weights on my bar again was humbling, but it did remind me of where I had come from and what I could achieve again.
I used each setback to learn something. I learned to listen to my body and not push myself to the point of injury. I learned to use proper breathing during exercise to avoid a killer migraine. I learned that I should probably train before running a five-mile race (duh!). I also learned how much yoga helps me to stretch and lengthen muscles. Before my injuries, the closest I came to yoga was wearing the pants. Now, yoga is part of my preventative maintenance. I chose to learn from the hard experiences. Don’t use them as excuses. Don’t quit on yourself.
5. Be the example.
I am a work in progress. I have not arrived to some level of fitness excellence that involves never being self-conscious in a swimsuit again. Will that ever happen? Probably not. Could I take my workouts up a notch? Yes, but for now this is what is working for me. The real reward lies in the example that I am setting.
My kids are watching me, and they think that exercise is a part of everyday life. Mind you, this was not the case two and a half years ago. But now, there is change at home. My daughter is proud of her strong legs and arms. I still pick up my seven year old because I can. I can sprint after my crazy three year old and not be completely winded. My hope is that my kids will never have to evolve to become an exerciser. Exercise is a part of our routine, and it is here to stay 🙂 .
What exercises have worked for you? How did you get out of your fitness funk?