I’m lazy. And clumsy. You already know about my shameless chocolate addiction. Needless to say, I’m not one of the peppy high-ponytail girls at the gym. I’m the one sweating like I’m on trial for murder, wearing a grimace and watching the clock. Here’s the kicker – I’ve been a faithful gym goer for three years now. I understand the traditional gift for a third anniversary is leather. (Oh, the possibilities.)
If you think being both a fitness junkie and author are contradictory hobbies, I agree with you. We writer types can click away at the keyboard, slumped in osteohorrific positions for hours on end without marking the passage of time until the ravioli boiling on the stove desiccates and catches fire, permanently infusing the smell of charred ricotta cheese into the curtains. Not speaking from experience, haha.
It stuck. The fitness, I mean. Three years later I’m still dragging myself to the gym, but I love how I feel once I get going. Fitness isn’t just trying to get skinny. I finally understand it means strength, flexibility, a healthy heart, good nutrition, and endurance. Fit people didn’t win some genetic lottery, they’re hard workers. Fitness is a choice – one I made kicking and screaming, but finally my clothes fit, I feel strong, and I can keep up with my kids. Not to mention I have a decent shot at outrunning the zombies.
I’m not among the eye-of-the-tiger fitness people who have a single-digit body fat percentage and eat energy bars with the periodic table of elements for labeling. Simple common sense improvements in the spirit of moderation and temperance got me the results I wanted. That said, I’d like to share…
Five Surprising Truths I Learned About Fitness
1. You fall off the wagon a lot. How many of us think if we cheat on the diet, we’re a lost cause? One bad day, week, or even month doesn’t spell doom for your fitness goals. Get back on the wagon, again and again. Keep trying, because any effort is an improvement.
2. It doesn’t get easier. I kept waiting for the fitness rapture to transform me. Still waiting. My bad shoulder angel still whispers that I should watch another episode of Supernatural instead of going to the morning Zumba class. I push myself, and it hurts, just like it did when I started three years ago. Like an uphill hike, it’s hard from start to finish, but at the end you have a view of breathtaking vistas, which in my mind is nothing like the smoggy skyline of Las Vegas and more like the scenery of a James Cameron movie. The good news? Force of habit takes over, which gives your determination a boost. Don’t underestimate that power.
3. Fitness is addicting. Endorphins? Sure. Could be as simple as embracing the lifestyle. When people say “I had a good workout!” I think they’re referring to that pleasant achy-burn feeling that comes from your heart pumping and muscles stretching. It makes one feel kind of bionic. Those endorphins plant fantastical thoughts in my mind, such as “I should have been a field agent for the CIA. Or maybe a fighter pilot.” By the time I get home, my aspirations simmer back down to “I should vacuum the stairs sometime this week,” which is for the best. At least the good feeling lingers.
4. Good nutrition is addicting too. When I decided to exercise, I also read myself the riot act concerning my Keebler and Olive Garden habits. I decided to cut my portions to the recommended fist-size helpings. (Confession: I’ve always had a linebacker’s appetite, which proved embarrassing as a teenager when I out-ate my linebacker date.) For about two weeks I was one grouchy, hungry mama bear, then I got used to smaller portions. I no longer need a trough for my morning Wheaties.
I sat down and wrote a list of nutrition “rules.” Under one column I listed foods I vowed never to eat again, such as fried foods, soda, and Twinkies. The middle column was for food I could indulge in occasionally, such as pretzels, cheese, and fruit juice. The last column was food I wanted to base my diet on: low-fat and high-fiber foods, lots of vegetables, leafy greens, and lean proteins. And only milk or water to drink. Because I knew I’d fall off the wagon, I added the caveat that I can break my rules at parties or on a really rough day as long as I behave myself the next day. The only problem now is I’ve turned into a bit of a salad snob. (I still keep my chocolate stash replenished. Refer to item 1.)
* If anyone is interested in making their own fitness rules and wants ideas, email me via the contact form on this site, and I’ll reply with the document I made to help you get started.
5. Fitness is contagious. My friend inspired me to get in shape, and it changed my life. I’ve noticed a big improvement in my kids’ habits. They watch me put spinach leaves, raw almonds, carrots, and acai powder in their smoothies and still drink it with a smile. I enjoy the company of other fitness junkies, and we talk about barbell routines, cardio zones, and the evil temptation of carbs. Roll your eyes − I understand. But when your friends and family see you getting in shape and feeling good, they’ll want to do it too.