Tips for Changing Your Life[style] pt. II

I still get a lot of feedback from people who want me to talk about the fitness and training part of health.  I have been hesitant to go down that path because I wanted to distinguish this blog as one that is entirely separate from my background in bodybuilding, power lifting, and personal training.  But perhaps that would be to waste years of experience that is important to who I am and what I believe in.  And training is such a significant part of my life even still.

So let’s talk fitness.

First, I’ll fill you in more on my fitness background.  I was always athletic.  I played soccer in high school, “worked out” off and on whenever I could, and “ran” because I felt like I was supposed to.  I struggled with my weight (I wanted to be the ballerina type!) but was always a little fascinated by the fact that I had abs in high school.  A couple of guy friends dubbed me “big swole,” and for most of my teenage years I received random comments about the size of my arms and legs.  In college I was fascinated by powerlifting and secretly wanted to be a bodybuilder but my boyfriends were always against it.

In 2005, when I was 21, my daughter was born.  My entire life was consumed by losing my baby weight.  It was all I could think of!  I went to the gym regularly, ran on a track by my house, and played soccer.  I lost the weight within just a few months, and was somewhat fit.  In fact, looking back on it I was always doing something—cardio classes at the gym, running, kickboxing, football, soccer, “weights,” Physical Training (PT) with Army ROTC, etc.  I was always good enough to not suck, and was often chronically second-best, but I’m not sure that I ever thought of myself as any kind of talented athlete.  But I can’t explain how, when I was 25, everything changed for me in terms of my athleticism.

Something just “clicked.”  I wish I could tell you how or why, but I just can’t.  Where before I would have given up on the last rep, or skipped sets, or giggled through some exercise, I looked up one day to find that I was pushing myself through—with no one there to push me or hold me accountable.  I was doing it for myself.   Two years later, I competed in my first bodybuilding show.  A year later, I competed again.  A year after that I competed in my first power lifting competition, and now I am crosstraining into completely different sports and I hope to compete at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Today my life consists of a hodgepodge of training that is all over the board but which makes sense to me and makes me incredibly happy.  I have been training in Muay Thai, boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, weight training, running long distances, trail running, and hiking.  A typical week for me might include all of these things!  And my entire family is involved.  Isabella does both boxing and BJJ, Mike lifts and does BJJ, and and as a family we hike just about every weekend.  Our training often overlaps or takes us in different directions, but it is such a priority for all of us that somehow it works.

People make a lot of assumptions about competitive athletes, and in doing so take a lot of potential away from themselves.  Some people think that having children makes athletic goals unattainable, so they give up.  Others think that work schedules prevent them from training regularly, so they put it off.  A lot of people just assume they lack some inherent quality, so they don’t try.  I hear these things all the time, and they drive me nuts.  These are not good reasons, they are all terrible excuses.  If you want to know how to overcome any of them, message me and I’ll tell you how I did it.

But maybe you don’t want to be a competitive bodybuilder.  Or a competitive anything.  Maybe you just want to feel better, get more active, build some muscle, take care of your heart, or find something in yourself that you didn’t know you had.  Are these goals really so impossible?  Or are they simply overwhelming because you don’t know how to get from point A (couch potato?) to point B (active, healthy person)?

Let me help you make it less overwhelming.  First, let’s declare the goal: you want to be a ______ person.  Or a person who ___________.  Maybe a fit person?  A person who “works out regularly,” or even an athletic person? None of these goals can happen over night—they are all the result of repetition.  Most people think they lack discipline when really they just lack repetition.

  1. If you can go to bed at or near the same time every night, you can achieve a fitness goal.  The number one most important characteristic I looked for in a new client is the ability to set a good habit.  If they didn’t come with this characteristic, my focus was to help them get it.
  2. Just freaking do it.  You don’t wanna.  You’re tired.  Your ______ hurts.  You had a long day at work.  Blah blah.  No athlete goes to the gym or trains 100% of the time roaring to go and happy to be there.  Sometimes you just force yourself through the motion and later you will be glad you did.  I see a lot of people give up the first time they skip a workout, or the after the honey-moon stage is over.  Don’t do that!  This is about setting a new habit.  How many smokers continue to smoke despite how much they don’t want to?
  3. Find something—anything—that you enjoy.  Then do it once.  Then do it again.  Then again.  Eventually you will wake up and not want to do it…but do it anyway.
  4. If you master steps 1-3, then congratulations: you’ve set a habit!  Smooth sailing after this.  Now, stop focusing on the results.  Trying to watch a fitness goal happen is like watching water boil—it’s best to give it some time.  The next thing you know, the water is boiling.  Er, I mean, you have reached your fitness goal.  You may wake up one day to the realization that out of nowhere, your pants no longer fit, or your max just became your warm-up. That didn’t happen over night!

Think of one fit person you know and remember that you are looking at an end result of a lot of work, or a work-in-progress; the only difference between you and that person is that you are at a different spot on your journey.  I hate to be cliche or rip off Nike, but seriously: Just [freaking] Do It!!!

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