A few months ago, I joined one of the local gyms. I’ve never really been a gym going kind of gal. In fact, for the last 15 + years, running really has been my main and sometimes only source of exercise. One of my incentives for joining the gym was because I don’t feel like running is the complete workout that my body needs to be strong. It doesn’t feel balanced to me that I can run for miles and miles, yet I can hardly even do a push-up. Another incentive is that I have fallen into the habit of getting out of shape every winter. I start the fall of in good shape, and then I gradually lose motivation with darker mornings/nights and colder weather. My last main motivation is that I have lots of friends at the gym to help keep me motivated. Here are some things I have learned about myself during the last few months:
- It really is humbling to accept that I am actually really weak and not in as good of shape as I thought. I’ve pretty much figured out that running is the only athletic thing that I am okay at, which makes sense since it is what I have focused my time one. I really lack in balance, flexibility, and strength. If I want to be healthy and strong when I am older, I should probably work on being healthy and strong now.
- My workout routines have been much needed for my mental health. I sometimes do classes to mix up my workouts, but I often meet my friend Tonya to run early in the morning. The really awesome thing is that we go early enough that we can go and hot tub for 10 minutes after our run. We then shower and get ready at the gym, and I come back to my house ready for the morning in time to get my kids ready and off to school. Running in the cold and rain is a lot easier when you know that a hot tub is waiting for you. Also, as I have very little time for a social life right now, it is awesome to get in some good quality friend time too. I also find that I am usually in a really good mood in the morning when I come home to my kids ready for the day. It is nice that my kids get to experience a happier mom in the morning.
- I probably could be pushing myself harder in classes or in my running, but I am honestly just feeling happy that it is December, and I have not fallen completely out of shape. This is certainly better than I was doing last December.
One of the greatest things that has happened in the last few months, is that I have really grown to accept and for the most part be okay with my body where it is right now after having 3 kids. I haven’t really lost weight since I joined the gym, but I have felt my body firm up a bit, and I am feeling good about where I am at right now. Sure, I could probably stand to lose 5-10 more pounds if I really wanted to exert more effort, but I honestly feel like for one of the first times in my life, I am truly focused more on my overall health instead of allowing what the scale tells me to be the main determining factor in how I feel about myself. I try to eat mostly healthy foods, and I totally splurge and allow myself to have treats often as well (although it is of course hard to find the right balance of doing this during the holiday season ).How can it be that I still have a soft stomach with love handles, but I am feeling so good?
A strange thing that I think has helped me grow to accept and be happy with where I am at more is from the time I spend in the locker room getting ready in the morning. There are women of all ages and sizes walking around nude getting ready for the day and chatting. There is a lot of overall sagginess in the locker room that may come from aging and/or nursing children. Even most of the slender and fit ladies walking around still look like they have nursed babies and carry a little extra softness in their mid sections. But despite the differences in everyone’s bodies, all of us our there with the common mission of being Healthy. I think that I really used to view exercise mostly as something I did to try to help keep my weight under control. There was so much guilt associated with it as well. After eating a bowl of ice cream, I might think to myself, “OH man, I am going to have to run a few extra miles if I want to keep the pounds off,” which would often cause me to go and eat even more ice cream to cope with feeling bad for not exercising more. Using exercise as guilt reducer, may not be the best plan after all folks. Focusing instead on how nice and relaxed I feel after working out, hot tubbing, and talking to a friend seems to be much more beneficial to me than punishing myself for the mistakes I felt like I was making in the past.
Bye the way, I really am not claiming to be in amazing shape. In fact, I’m guessing that pretty much anyone reading this could be me in an arm wrestling match. My mind, my spirit, and my body thank me when I take the time to nourish them. When I take care of myself physically, it motivates me to want to be more spiritual as well. I love how all of the components of health work together. Here’s to health friends. I’m hoping I can keep this motivation up through the whole winter. What are you all doing to take care of yourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually?