These days, working out and fueling my body is a huge source of positivity in my life. I truly love it, I feel good doing it and it is a part of my day that I look forward to.
Let me tell you, it was not always like this. At all.
I’ll take you back a few years. On cartain days, my alarm went off at 5:30am. Dreadful. I found my way down to the gym across the street from my apartment in pitch darkness with a granola bar in hand. I would do some sort of cardio for 45-60 minutes and occasionally a few weights. I did a lot of the same things, or the same cycle of workouts for weeks on end. I ended my workouts because of time, but I wasn’t ever really satisfied. For the most part, working out was lonely for me and I was stuck with a lot of negative thoughts throughout the process.
I am not working out hard enough.
I am not burning enough calories.
Yesterday I was sweating way more?
Maybe if I wake up earlier tomorrow and add 15 minutes I can get that ice cream I’ve been craving.
How will I fit in tomorrow’s workout if I have to be at work early or late?
The list goes on…
My motivation for putting myself through this was an upcoming event with friends or in response to a meal I had or planned to have. Looking back, I can honestly say that working out was purely a chore and something I had to do. I told myself I had to “get it done”. And if I didn’t – I felt extremely guilty. So guilty that I would anxiously figure out how to get workouts in every day for upcoming weeks making sure I always fit it in.
My planning wasn’t to stay accountable and motivated, but rather I was planning to appease my anxious and sometimes guilty mind. It is hard to admit that without feeling shameful, but it is true. I looked at fitness at a way to offset food or the shame I felt at how I saw my body at that particular time.
That is how I measured my health and physical worth. I really truly thought this control kept me “healthy” and that I was doing it all for the right reasons, but a short time ago, I realized that I was not. I was caught up in a cycle of self-deprecating motivation and guilt. While most of this mindset shift was also changing in therapy on how I saw food, I came to realize something. I only saw myself as good as my last workout and paid little attention to how my body and mind felt about it.
This mindset shift took some time but I was able to shift and work on myself, my anxiety and actually tuning in and listening to my body. It came hand in hand with healing my relationship with food because of course, it is all connected. I learned the benefit of cross training, rest days and mindful movement. I embraced new things and fostered a community around my workouts when I moved to Denver. I am SO grateful for that. Most importantly, I spent time learning MY BODY and what makes me feel good physically and emotionally. I created my own rules about working out and ignored what everyone was saying. I do what I enjoy. That’s it.
Below are some tips on how to change your mindset on working out and the rules that I have learned to live by:
FUEL YOUR BODY RIGHT
Ok, this one is BIG. I actually used to use working out as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. Oh, I ran for 30 minutes. I now get to have pizza now. No. That did not help me. Learning that my body needs real food and quality fuel before and after a workout has been key. This way, I am not ending a workout insanely starving and reaching for something that is not going to be good for me.
FIND WHAT YOU LOVE
This is a game changer. If it is available to you – try all the workouts! Most studios have great intro offers that you can take advantage of. Find what makes you excited, motivated and satisfied. Until I discovered the world of crossfit, spinning, ballet, and circuit training, I was bored at the gym. I honestly did not love running for 45 minutes on the treadmill to the same playlist over and over again. I did this for 4 years in college and then some. I think if I played that playlist I would cringe but more because of the negative mental space it occupied. Finding your groove with a studio, instructor or online program (whatever you love) takes experimentation and time. So open your mind and see what sticks! You don’t need to love a workout just because everyone else does. If you hate being yelled at a bootcamp gym. Don’t go. If you need that to do it – go for it!
MOVE WITH INTENTION
Change your mindset from negative motivation to positive. Thinking about movement as something that is good for your body, mind and overall health. An activity that releases endorphins, makes you feel energized and gets you stronger. This has really truly helped me. I see it as another means of treating my body with love. I try not to focus on the number of calories I burn or the amount of time I worked out. It creeps in from time to time, but I really try to avoid this because it starts to shift my focus to my old ways. I say: As long as I do my body good, it is good enough for me.
Say it with me:
AS LONG AS I DO MY BODY GOOD – IT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.
Some days that means a 30-minute walk and other days that means an hour sweaty circuit class at home or at the gym. It is all OK. I promise. You got this.
And finally …REST. REST. REST
I give you permission to take a day off. Or two. Or three. You need time for your muscles to recover. You do not need to overdo it and stress your body out. Off days and relaxation days are just as important as active ones. Especially if you are an early bird workout girl like I am, get yourself some sleep! There is no shame!
MAKING IT SOCIAL
Keep yourself accountable to your friends! I love this. (Pre-Covid) I always tried to book classes with friends. It is fun to make plans out of working out. Quite honestly, I so many amazing friends at the CrossFit gym I joined in Denver.
I hope that sharing my journey with y’all and struggle with exercise has either inspired you or helped you in some capacity. Thank you for taking the time to read.