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. My alarm went off at 5:15am – every single day. Dreadful. I found my way down to my condo gym in the pitch black with a gross protein bar in hand. I would do some sort of cardio for 45-50 minutes and 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.
I am not working hard enough.
I am not burning enough calories.
How am I not sweating as much as yesterday?
Maybe if I wake up earlier tomorrow and add 15 minutes and have that ice cream.
How will I fit in tomorrow’s workout if I have to be at work early for a call?
The list goes on…
My motivation for putting myself through this was an upcoming event 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 for me. I told myself I had to “get it done”. And if I didn’t – I felt extremely guilty. So guilty that I would spend many many anxious moments planning my workouts for the next 2 weeks and trying to figure out how I could fit it all in.
I actually used to track my workouts on an excel sheet and record what I was going to do days and weeks in advance. I wasn’t planning to stay accountable and motivated, but rather I was planning to appease my anxious mind. It is hard to admit that without feeling shameful, but it is true. I would update it at work every morning. It gave me immense peace of mind and validation to see the cells fill in with complete workouts and planned ones.
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 today I realized that I was not. I was caught up in a cycle of self-deprecating motivation and guilt. I was only as good as my last workout and paid little attention to how my body and mind felt about it.
I also avoided group fitness like the plague unless it was a class at my gym near work where I barely saw anyone I knew. My friend, Kim, and I always went together and she was really the only person I liked to work out with. At the time, I was not into boutique fitness. The thought of going to classes made me anxious.
My mind would race:
Who would I run into?
I don’t look good “yet”. Maybe in a few months.
I won’t be able to keep up with everyone.
I don’t have cute workout outfits. I can’t afford it.
I just told myself sticking to what I knew was good for me.
I was able to change this slowly and surely as I started to 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 Detroit. I am SO grateful for that. Most importantly, I spent time learning MY BODY and 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. Period.
Below are some tips on how to change 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 HUGE. I actually used to use working out as an excuse to eat whatever the F I wanted. Oh, I ran for 30 minutes. I DESERVE 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.
One of my fave pre or post workout snacks are the Health Warrior Chia Bars. They are the perfect amount of energy and healthy fats to keep me energized throughout my workout. I can’t work out on an empty stomach, and these have become a staple for me. I usually workout in the mornings so, I will have these before a class. I also keep these in actually all my purses and my car! I find they are the perfect size to keep on hand because I am always on the go! The flavors are actually never-ending, so I am yet to get sick of em. My faves are coconut, dark chocolate, banana nut, and caramel sea salt. I used to eat these huge, dense protein bars before a workout that would make my tummy really hurt and had as much sugar as a candy bar!! The thought of eating those now makes me nauseous. I love that the chia bars are small, nutrient packed with omega 3’s, low in sugar and super tasty. They fit my lifestyle and routine perfectly.
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 yoga, barre, and circuit training, I was bored AF at the gym. I honestly did not love running for 55 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 prob vomit (mostly bc it reminds me of being hungover), but more because of the negative mental space it occupied. Finding your jive with a studio, instructor or online program (whatever you love) takes experimentation. 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 Barry’s Bootcamp. Don’t go. If you need that ish – 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 burned 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 20-minute walk and other days that means an hour sweaty circuit class. It is all OK. I promise. You got this.
REST. REST. REST
Guys, 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 relaxing 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 in this.
MAKING IT SOCIAL
Keep yourself accountable to your friends! I love this. I always try to book classes with friends. It is fun to make plans out of working out. Quite honestly, I have made tons of friends by going to new workout studios. It is really how I have found my wellness community here in Metro Detroit.
I hope that sharing my journey with you all and struggle with exercise has either inspired you or helped you in some capacity. Thank you for taking the time to read.
Thank you to Health Warrior for sponsoring this post. I am so grateful to work with brands that are aligned with my values and put amazing healthy products into the world.