As our garage doors open for the season, we see lots more runners and bikers out and about now that the weather finally broke. There are a lot of reasons for that, maybe they are training for an upcoming race, or maybe they are trying to kick start their fitness again that may have slipped over the winter months. Whatever it is, that’s great that people are getting out there and moving! But what happens once that race day has come and gone? Or once that winter weight is gone and you rocked your 2 piece over Memorial Day at the lake?
A lot of people will start working out with some sort of a goal be it to just finish a 5k without dying, or to like what they see in the mirror a little more. But what people often lack are longer term goals, or any reason to keep them going to the gym or heading out for those runs once that initial box has been checked. As a former (extremely slow) marathon runner I was in that cycle for years of feeling better and looking better briefly, then quickly face planting off the wagon the day after whatever race I had trained for.
The days have become much easier to stay motivated because I have changed three things. They seem simple, but making the mental transition for all of them definitely took some time (especially #2). Here are my three tips on how to get on a healthy path, and actually enjoy the journey too!
Find something you actually want to do
I know I know, everyone says “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Blah Blah Blah. Well I’m here to tell you if you find something you love, you will still work your ass off, BUT you will actually want to do it.
I put in soooooo many miles training for races I didn’t really want to do because I thought that is what you are supposed to do. I liked weight training but it was lonely being in the weight room as a lady so I’d opt for the cardio bunny route because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I HATED IT! I think a dreadmill (whoops, I mean treadmill) minute is maybe the longest minute known to mankind (only 2nd too a microwave minute). Finally a friend convinced me to try CrossFit, and I found what I had been missing since being a high school athlete almost instantly.
What I love is always having something to improve upon. There are still the boxes to check, but they are always followed up with bigger and more badass boxes to work towards! Oh you got pull ups figured out, now let’s work on muscle ups. You can run a half mile without stopping, now let’s work on getting that time a little better. You can do box jumps to 20″, let’s work towards 22″! There is always something more to improve upon in the gym, and your weight and pant size improve as side effect instead of being front and center.
Break up with your scale
This probably took a solid year to truly end that toxic relationship, but oh to be free! I have always had an “athletic” build, and had always been self conscious of it, because I am not supposed to weigh more than a buck twenty at 5′ 4″ (my soccer thighs probably account for half of that on their own). After that first year of CrossFit and the scale strike I finally realized that I was actually able to eat food instead of be on some ridiculous diet, and I fit into some of those ol’ college jean! And best yet I felt amazing!
Around that time I took a health assessment at work and my BMI came back as overweight… WHAT THE HELL?! I would get regular emails from my insurance company asking me “how my weight loss was coming.” SERIOUSLY? That one almost sent me running back to my scale but then I realized I can lift more, run faster, eat better, get better sleep, and actually FEEL good. That scale was full of crap and so was that health assessment. As hard as it can be, focus on how you FEEL instead of what you weigh! The fit of your clothes and the way you feel is a way better gauge than the numbers on a scale.
Surround yourself with like minded people
In a world where you are judged more for eating a healthy meal at lunch that for crushing a Big Mac, this can be challenging. BUT, if you can find some supportive folks to go through this fitness journey with, it will make it so much easier to stay accountable. Yes I know Planet Fitness costs $10 a month but when was the last time you went there? Does anyone give a shit when you don’t show up for a week? A month? A year? No. They actually prefer it (more pizza and bagels for to go around!)
Find a gym, a class, a biking club, SOMETHING that you enjoy and can do with supportive people that will help keep you accountable. There will always be days or weeks where things just aren’t going your way and you fall of the wagon or out of your routine. Having someone to say “missed you at this week’s ride” or “let’s catch up the 5:30 class tomorrow” can be what you need to make that day or week you missed not turn into a month or even year. The community at Icehouse is my favorite part, it’s so great to be surrounded by like minded folks both pushing you harder when you are there, and keeping you coming back for more when you are not.