It can be overwhelming when you start thinking that you want to try to get in shape. Like, you know….you have these conversations in your head about how “tomorrow” you’re gonna start working out. Or, after this next pig out sesh, I’m totally gonna start eating right. And you really believe it at the time. You’re totally gonna do this thing! But then tomorrow comes and you’re just like, well crap…I don’t really know how to actually go about all this stuff and the thought of it is kind of breaking me out in hives and freaking me out a little. And then you slip right back into the old routine. Sound familiar?
For me, the part that was the hardest to overcome was knowing that I would be horrible at everything. Running, push ups, crunches….whatever it was, I was gonna suck at it. Years and years of doing nothing other than walking and occasionally taking a leisurely bike ride had left me WAY out of shape. I was scared, intimidated, felt inadequate and incapable. When I finally decided that I needed push those feelings aside and do something for myself for real? Well, I did Body Rock workouts. And if you aren’t familiar with them, let me just tell you that it basically consisted of this beautiful woman with an impossibly perfect body doing these intense HIIT workouts like a boss on the screen of my laptop while I kind of flopped around in my living room trying to mimic her movements without barfing on the carpet or peeing my pants. It was horrible. I was horrible. But I kept going, and before long, I was actually able to hang with her a little better. And I was all like, woah – I am AMAZING (even though I really wasn’t lol). But I was actually getting better and stronger, and that eventually led me to training with weights. You could have knocked me over with a feather because that was something that never ever EVER entered my brain as a possible option/outlet for me. Like never ever. But here I am 4 years later & still lifting on a regular basis. Is my body perfect? No. Is my diet perfect? Again, no. I am human. But am I stronger than I’ve ever been and feeling great? HECK YEAH!
The list of things that I totally suck at is long and winding. Like super long. Let’s see here… there’s running (still). Pull ups. Basically any cardio. Working out while simultaneously looking like I know what I’m doing (this is precisely why I have yet to post any of those cute Instagram videos that all the workout divas are doing these days). Just trust me…the list is long. And it’s winding.
But here’s the thing, it’s totally OK to suck. Really! Because while you’re looking like a newborn baby giraffe wobbling around trying not to fall on your face, well… you’re still burning calories. Still breaking a sweat. You’re still getting your heart rate up and increasing your endurance, even if it’s just little by little. The little things add up over time and before you know it, instead of being able to jog a max of 30 seconds, you’re running 45 and then a full minute. You’re doing FIVE whole push ups before you have to drop your knees to the floor and finish them. And believe me, those don’t sound like huge accomplishments, but they totally are! There are few things that feel better than being able to do something that you couldn’t do just a week ago. It’s a very empowering feeling.
I have told this story to a million people, so I apologize if you’ve already heard it, but I actually cried the first time I did a real pull up. As in, I completed the pull up and then just hung there from the bar crying like a baby. They were so so hard for me and I really thought that I would just never get them. I was gonna be that one girl who could just never do a single pull up. But I kept trying, even though I sucked, and then suddenly there it was one day – A REAL PULL UP!
So, here are a couple of tips for what to do when you want to start but don’t know what to do.
- Just do SOMETHING. Even if it’s just a 15 minute walk in the evenings. Just get your body moving. And then focus on building on that and adding a little more time to it each week. Once I got better at those HIIT workouts, I decided to run a 5K. I downloaded the C25K app to my phone and just followed the simple program on it. I ran the entire 5K without having to walk at all (which was my goal). I wasn’t leaving people in my dust or anything, but I set a goal and I accomplished it simply by focusing on the steps I needed to take to get there.
- Try new things. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike. Pull out your kid’s jump rope. Go to a Zumba class. You’ll never find the thing that is going to work for you unless you just start trying different things. Trust me, you’ll know it when you find your “thing” because you’ll feel enjoyment in anticipation of it instead of dread.
- Make water and adequate sleep a priority. These two things are so important to not only your physical health, but also to your mental health. A clear and focused mind and well-hydrated body can help you accomplish so much more than an exhausted and dehydrated one! Without fail, when I have a sleepless night I am terribly unproductive the following day and usually skip my workout. And when I’m not properly hydrated, I make poor food choices. Every time. I think I’m hungry when I’m actually just thirsty.
- Dabble in some healthier food choices. This one can be tricky because there are a lot of conflicting opinions on how everyone should be eating these days, but for me, I try to focus on protein first and then vegetables, fruits, and healthy carbs, in that order. But just making some initial better choices in this area can make a huge difference and give you a foundation to build on based on what works best for you.
I would suggest to anyone who is just beginning this journey to just keep pushing forward every day. Keep doing something, ANYTHING. Build on what you’re doing and try new things. What works for someone else may not work for you. There’s not just one way to fitness. You have to try stuff and keep on trying, because you won’t like everything you do, but there is something out there for you! And you won’t always be horrible at everything, you really will see improvement when you keep at it consistently. My body isn’t perfect, it never will be. I don’t look like a super model and don’t aspire to. I’m just a mom who is trying to be as healthy as I can for my family and for myself. I want to set an example for my kids and I want them to know that it’s important to take care of themselves, even from an early age. I do not want to be a burden to them in my old age because I refused to make my health a priority. I don’t do everything right and I certainly fail horribly at times, but the thing that I know above all else is that as long as I’m here on this Earth, I’ll never stop trying. Even when I suck.