Monday, September 4, 2017

Fitness Journey

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Yesterday I finished my six week workout program Walk Strong 6 Week Total Transformation System without missing any workouts.  I worked out six days a week for six weeks!  I’m pretty excited to complete this program successfully, and I’ve already restarted the program today to do it for another six weeks. 

A little background on my fitness background and journey.  I started working out at the age of 27 (twenty years ago).  I was experiencing shoulder and back issues after working at my desk job for a few years.  I asked my father-in-law, who is a physician, about how I could combat those issues.  He told me that I need to strengthen my back and shoulders.  So I started going to my work gym to do weights, and gradually started walking and then running on the treadmill as well.  That has led to a lifetime of striving for fitness.  I have pretty much regularly worked out since then, with the exception of a few months here and there when I had fallen off the fitness wagon due to life circumstances.  I have run a marathon (26.2 miles), two half marathons (13.1 miles), and various other running races of shorter distances.  I have done workout programs such as Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, P90X, P90X3, T25, etc.  Over the last two years, I’ve also been avidly walking and trying to get my 10,000 steps in daily.  The months right before my leave of absence from work, I had fallen off the workout wagon and was not exercising regularly.  One of my main goals during my leave was to workout almost every day and to reset my fitness journey to take me to a good place.

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I think my relationship with exercising is complicated.  I’m just now coming to a place of really understanding the purpose of exercising in my life.  For most of my life, I thought of exercising as a way to lose weight, or to maintain weight.  What I’ve found is that reason alone is not really enough to keep me exercising, because it sounded like a chore.  Plus, current research show that diet (what we eat and how much we eat) is MUCH more correlated with losing weight than exercise is.  I really had to dig deep and come up with “my reason why".  In the end, I had to reframe exercising as a priviledge, because I am worth it.  It cannot be something that I “have to” do.  It has to be something I “get to” do, and that I enjoy.  It has to be FUN.  And I like how good it feels to exercise my body.  How great I feel after I exercise.  And how motivated I am to keep going when the hill that was hard to walk up before now is a piece of cake.  I want to be a strong person as I get older, so that I can do all the functional things in life with ease.

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I’ve been thinking about why I was able to complete the program successfully this time, and what I’ve learned from it.  I wanted to share with you, in case it resonates with any of you.  I’m really speaking from personal experience.  I understand that everyone is different, and there isn’t a perfect workout program for everyone. 

  • My top priority in exercising is being consistent.  Being able to achieve results and changing my body is much more likely when I exercise on a consistent basis.  For me personally, this meant avoiding exercises that were too hard, too complicated, or too time-consuming.  This program told me what workout to do every day for six weeks.  It was only 30 minutes each day, which is not too time-consuming.  It was not too hard for me to do, yet challenging enough to feel like an accomplishment.  I have tried P90X before, but for me, it was too hard on my body, I couldn’t do the pushups and pullups, and it was too much time commitment.  All those things led me to fail before. 
  • The amount of exercise time and level of exertion is important.  In the past, when I ran long distances for hours, or when I did workouts that were too hard, I felt depleted afterwards instead of energized.  I didn’t want to feel exhausted after exercising, so much so that I needed to take a nap.  I also didn’t want to exercise for too long and too hard, such that I end up eating everything in sight afterwards. 
  • Exercising should make me feel happy, not frustrated or sad.  This program has a lot of fun elements to it, and I feel myself looking forward to certain days when I get to do my favorite workouts.  The key to consistency is finding something fun that I could enjoy and look forward to every day.  And I really feel that my daily mood has improved, as well as my sense of well-being.
  • I need a workout program that worked my entire body, not just certain parts.  In the past when I concentrated too much on one type of workout, whether that was running or cardio or weights, I ended up being injured.  I really wanted to avoid overuse injuries this time, so that I could keep going every day and not be sidelined by injuring my body.  You can’t be consistent with exercising if you are injured or too sore.  The 10 workouts in this exercise program has cardio, strength, flexibility, high intensity interval training, and total body workouts.  These workouts make my entire body feel good and strong, and I haven’t been so sore that I can’t do the workouts every day.  The program has good variety and good rotation schedule so you’re never working the same body parts on back to back days.
  • The program removed barriers to exercising for me.  In the past I wouldn’t exercise consistently, because it took too much time and motivation to plan out what exercises I should do each day and each week and each month.  I’m also not an expert on anatomy and exercise science, so any program I could come up with myself was probably not optimal anyways.  I like taking the guesswork out and having a program that tells me what to do each day.  It took away the mental stumbling block of “what workout should I do today”?

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So what are my results and how do I feel about them?  What are my plans going forward? 

First off, I did not lose weight.  That is ok with me, since it was not my goal with this exercise program.  I did not change my diet during the first go at this 6 week program.  However, my body FEELS totally different.  My posture is way better.  I feel strong in my core, shoulders, back, and legs.  I have triceps now.  Walking up a hill is SO much easier.  My weight stayed the same, but I have lost a little bit of fat and my clothes fit better.  Overall, I just feel good in my body, which is a huge thing, when you think about it.  Often times as women, we have body image issues, or we emphasize LOOKING good.  But feeling good about your body and what it can do is MORE important and more awesome!  And probably longer lasting.

Going forward, I am starting the 6 week program over again.  But this time, I am going to try eating healthier and eating smaller portions to see if I can lose some more fat.  I don’t believe in cutting any foods out of my life.  Just eating sensibly and mindfully, and less sugar.  I’m excited to see where that takes me after this additional 6 weeks.  My biggest hurdle that I have to figure out is how to keep going with my exercising habits after I go back to work.  I can’t allow work to derail my success, so I need to figure out and remove barriers.  It was a lot easier to stick to a daily exercise program when I didn’t have to go to work! 

I hope that sharing my fitness journey and what I’ve learned is helpful to you.  I am constantly inspired by other people’s journeys, so I thought I should pay it forward and share mine, in case it is helpful to anyone else.  Just remember that everybody is different.  You have to find your own “why” and “how”.  Smile

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