In January of 2020, one of my new years resolutions was to get in the best shape of my life in the next decade. It’s not very specific, but I decided I was going to exercise every day. I didn’t have a set amount of weight I wanted to lose, but I wanted to get healthier, have more energy and of course, look good. It has been 10 months since I started this journey and here are four unexpected lessons I’ve learned from working out.
Celebrate your success
When I started out, I was out of shape and I could definitely feel the burn. Sometimes for several days after trying a new workout. I’d get discouraged if I couldn’t do as many reps as suggested or I didn’t feel like I could stretch very far, but I kept going and it paid off! I started noticing my progress. I could reach further during my stretch routines, I felt less tired on the elliptical and I’ve increased the weight during my strength workouts. I’ve also noticed that my clothes fit better or no longer fit in some cases because they are too big.
When I’d notice these things I was proud of my self. When your clothes fit better, celebrate! Reward yourself. It’s an excuse for a new wardrobe. Well, a new pair of jeans or a cute sweater at least. Be sure to share your good news with someone who supports your fitness goals.
Success comes from capability, not appearances
This is a big one. We get way too caught up in what our bodies look like. We spend so much time focused on our appearance that we forget to focus on what our bodies are capable of. Success comes from within. It’s all about your mindset and not your outward appearance.
To track this, measure your progress. Where were you when you started? How many reps could you do? How many minutes could you run? What is the distance? How are you feeling afterwards? Are you feeling strong or tired?
Over time, you will notice that some workouts will get easier because you will get stronger and your body will get used to moving in certain ways. Maybe some workouts won’t get easier, but you will notice that you are able to do more and feel less tired. Maybe you can lift more or exercise longer. It’s amazing to measure your progress from where you started. You will be saying, wow, I can’t believe I can do that now.
Full disclosure, this is me with jumping jacks, holding squats, stretching gets easier etc. You will end up celebrating your body. It’s fantastic. Your body is amazing and it should be celebrated regardless of the number on the scale!
It’s not about losing weight
Well, in a way it is, but it’s so much more than that. Exercise is a mood booster that also helps your body physically function better. The discipline you need to stick to your workout schedule helps build character. After a while, you will feel healthier and view exercise as a form of self-care. It started out as a goal to get in the best shape of my life. I know, it’s not specific enough, but I promised myself to exercise each day. At first, it was all about losing weight and looking good, but now it’s about feeling better and I have made my fitness a priority.
Sample Fitness Goals
- I will run 1 mile each day.
- I will do a 30 minute strength based workout 3 times per week.
- I will lose 10lbs in the next 60 days.
- I will drink 8 glasses of water each day.
- I will do one yoga class per week.
Pay attention to your body
This is the most important lesson I have learned from my fitness journey.
When you are exercising, you’ll notice all the sensations. Mostly when you start to get tired or maybe you feel like you can’t take one more step. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone when exercising because the burn means it’s working, but you have to know the difference between building strength or endurance and pushing yourself too hard. You will feel it if you pay close attention. If your body needs water, rest or needs a harder workout, it’s all okay. It’s your fitness journey and your body knows what it needs.
If you have to stop, it’s okay, but get back into it when you are ready. Too often we push ourselves too far and that’s when we can get injured.
Last week, I was sick and wasn’t feeling up to working out. I felt guilty about this and wanted to get back to exercise as soon as possible, so this week, I hopped back on the elliptical. Suddenly, the bolt popped off and my machine was broken. I will have to buy a replacement part, but in the mean time, I’ve had to switch up my workout routine. I tried a workout that was totally new to me. Cardio mixed with strength based exercises. Towards the end of the workout, I had drank my entire bottle of water and was feeling so exhausted. I kept pushing myself, but finally in the last couple minutes of the workout, I just had to stop. I had to listen to my body at that point. While I was disappointed and felt out of shape, I had to remind myself that it was a new workout and I did the best I could.
Some days your energy level is higher and your body may react differently. That is also okay. Our bodies are unique to each of us and we should be celebrating what they are capable of regardless of our body shape. Even though I started this journey to lose weight because I didn’t like the way my body looked, I have come to appreciate my body a lot more.
Are you on a fitness journey? If so, what have you learned? Let’s talk about it in the comments!