Get Over It: Exercise Changes For Life Changes
It happens to everyone at some point. You have an injury. You become pregnant. Your body rebels. You hit the wall. Whatever it is, there’s an “it” for everyone.
I know quite a few people who were into health and fitness at one point; running marathons, playing competitive tennis, lifting weights, and then something happened. Their worst-case scenario happened, and they quit.
Change Up or Chicken Out?
What makes the difference between someone who packs it in and gets flabby and complacent versus someone who finds something new?
Two things, I think. First, having a vision. For me, this is partly about confidence in my body’s abilities and partly about having some experience other than my “main” sport.
Second, a change of mind. I think we all have a pity party when we can’t do the thing we thought was most fulfilling in fitness. The key is to snap out of it before that pity party takes root in your brain and becomes your dominant thought pattern.
When I got back into fitness after my third child was born, my primary focus was to run a marathon. I was going to run for Team In Training, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The first few days were fine. I joined a gym to have access to treadmills when the Atlanta summer heat got to be too much. I got up to about 4 miles at a time when “it” happened.
My left knee just gave out. Wouldn’t run. Wouldn’t bend. Wouldn’t do anything but swell to both a grandiose and grotesque representation of its true size.
Was I going to give up and go back to being a couch potato, still 80 lbs. overweight? No way in hell. I’d made up my mind, and I was going to get back in shape no matter what.
Now, before you start to think that I have some amazing power of will that you lack, I don’t. But when I make a decision, the decision is made. You bet your sweet sneakers that I’m going to do everything I can to do what I said I’d do.
Need some motivation of your own? Here are five ways to kick yourself back into gear.
Give Up Your Rigid Idea of Fitness
If you fall in one of the camps that says, “only runners are athletes”, “only bodybuilders are athletes”, “only swimmers are athletes”, you’re missing a whole world of fitness.
Sure, I thought that those gym bunnies were a little, um, plastic, but it turns out that you can get yourself into amazing shape in group exercise. Who knew?
I discovered this after taking months off from running to help my knees heal. I was dropping weight, but they weren’t getting much better. I still wore a brace to step and kickboxing classes, as well as dance.
One day I was crazy stressed and just needed to run. I decided to lace up and hit the road and take a nice run. When I got back, I plugged the data into mapmyrun.com, and it turned out that I’d run almost 6 miles.
As a non-runner before April, 2008, that was a huge surprise, especially because I’d only made it to 4 miles before “it”.
Look For New Changes In Your Body
I was finally thin, but my body was struggling with some serious overuse injuries last year. My knees, hip flexors, and shoulders were in constant revolt, and I hurt even at rest.
I knew that I needed to change my routine and let my body heal, but giving up on my workouts altogether wasn’t an option. Instead, I decided to shift my focus from cardio to weight lifting.
As first I did 3 days a week. Having noticed some big changes in just three weeks, I switched to two 2-day splits. My body was morphing before my eyes.
I gained about 15 lbs of muscle in 5 months naturally (which is pretty respectable for a small woman). I gained a size but looked smaller. I fell in love with my biceps and showed them off any chance I got. It was beautiful.
Of course, now I’m pregnant and can’t lift like I was. You know what? I’m still looking for changes in my body. They’re different, to be sure, but not bad. I know I can do this again, and I’m sort of excited to take off the post-baby weight.
Train Yourself To Remember Past Successes
I had a BLAST losing 90 lbs in nine months after number three was born. People thought I was crazy, but I had a goal and I was intent on achieving it.
If you’re struggling to find the belief that you can do it, I suggest recalling your past successes.
What have you done well in your life that others didn’t expect of you? What have you done well that you didn’t even expect of yourself?
If this is your first step into finding personal success, you’ve got two options, and I suggest you take both. You can decide to believe in yourself, no matter what.
There are great ways to motivate yourself. One is a goal poster. Perhaps a reward system. Some people actually do well with consequences for missing goals (I’m SO not one of those).
The second thing is to get some support. If you don’t have support from family and friends, find an online community with similar interests.
For example, the forums here at SteroidsLive are great for bodybuilding, lots of information. The message boards at Runnersworld.com are great for novices.
This is the internet, people. There’s even a message board for fans of Weird Al Yancovic.
Develop A Mantra
Notice I said “develop”, not “create”. Creating may work for some people, but if it doesn’t come naturally, you’re not likely to use it.
One day, I was running up what I call Heinous Hill. This is the last thing that I see on my 10k runs in my neighborhood. It taunts me, telling me I’m too sweaty and exhausted. You know the type.
I can already taste my green smoothie and feel the shower beating down on my back. But before I can stretch, rest, and drink, I have to get up this hill.
I had been defeated by Heinous Hill in the past. I’d walked it more times than I cared to count, sapped by the heat and humidity of Atlanta summer. This day, however, I heard this little voice that said, “There’s more to you than this”.
Slightly surprised, I heard it again. “There is MORE to you than this”. Really? More? To me? I made it up that hill, and have never walked it since. Hell, I sprinted the last few hundred yards, just to show it who was boss.
When fitness got tough, I would hear “There is MORE to you than this” time and again, and it developed into my mantra. I’ve also heard it in my head as “There’s more FOR you than this”, which pushes me unbelievably.
I can achieve greater goals than I have currently before. I can do more, I can be more, I can get stronger.
The General would also like me to mention that I often say, “I’m not going to let _____ beat me”! It’s completely true, I refuse to be beaten by a step in a step class, a hill on a run, or a dumbbell in the weight room. Spoken with the proper incredulity-mixed-with-disgust, it works beautifully.
Set A Goal
We talked about setting and achieving goals back in February. Goals still need to be SMART. Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Reasonable. Time-bound.
If you’re getting into running, pick a 5k to participate in. If you’ve decided to start lifting weights, set a goal to lift 25% more than you are on day one by such and such a date.
Setting a goal keeps you focused on the task at hand, one chunk at a time. It keeps you accountable, especially when you share your goal with others. I shout from the rooftops what I plan to do (half marathon six months post-partum, anyone?) because people will ask me about it.
No excuses. No regrets. Get out there and amaze yourself today.