I introduced you to my good friend Meghan a year ago from today, when she was a self-proclaimed “gym newbie.” Since we heard from her last, she has become a first grade teacher and has made great progress with her health and fitness.
As I sit here icing my knees and shoulder, I’m feeling reflective. I’ve always been very reflective, even as a child. I was the student who enjoyed writing essays, specifically ones that involved me digging within myself with a personal issue or a reflection on how I felt, etc. I’ve carried this with me throughout my life; I constantly reflect on myself personally and professionally.
“How did I handle this?”
“Why did I choose to handle it this way?”
“How can I have handled it better?”
“Am I satisfied with how I did?”
As a teacher, this is a very useful tool and has helped me as I grow as an educator. As a teacher, we are constantly evolving from year to year (I’d say even month to month!), and I am repeatedly asking myself, “What can I do to make myself better?” Some people have told me I can be hard on myself, that I am my own worst critic and I should give myself more credit for all the work that I do and how hard I work. (I actually had a teacher in college tell me to relax and stop stressing so much in their class! P.S. I got an A.)
While I know I demand a lot from myself, I look at it in a positive light. I demand a lot from myself, because I know what I am capable of. I push myself, because I know I can handle it. I strive to do my best, because I believe in giving 100% in all that you do. I bring this attitude with me to my fitness journey as well. When you choose to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it is just that, a lifestyle. You don’t turn it on or off when it is convenient for you or when you want “likes” on Instagram.
I’ve hit my one-year mark of committing myself to giving 100% to my healthy lifestyle. Right around this time last year, I wrote a Facebook post commenting about all the naysayers and people commenting negatively about people buying gym memberships for the New Year. Why?
I was one of “those people” who had bought a gym membership. I was the gym “newbie,” and I was annoyed.
These people didn’t know my background or my reasons for joining the gym. I probably ate better than half the people who were complaining about me “hogging their machines.”
With urging from my dear friend Anna, someone who shared my love of clean eating, I wrote my first blog post for this blog. My post was raw and honest and was my way of publicly announcing that I was committing myself 100% to my healthy lifestyle, and the gym was going to be a huge part of it. My blog post was widely applauded, and I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by The Daily Burn, a popular online fitness service, on ways new gym-goers can avoid “gym intimidation.” It was amazing to have someone reach out to me regarding my blog post, and I felt a sense of responsibility. I wanted other people like me – people who were scared, intimidated, and overwhelmed at the thought of going to the gym – to step out of their comfort zone and try it. Not for anyone else but for themselves. If I could say something or reach at least one person, then I did what I set out to do.
It has now been roughly one year since I made that promise to myself. One year since I made that public commitment to live and practice my healthy lifestyle. I have seen tremendous gains not only physically but [also] mentally and emotionally, [and] I have never felt stronger and more focused. Working out for me has become a fixture in my daily routine, much like going to work or cooking dinner. I have grown accustomed to the daily soreness that accompanies a tough workout, wincing when I have to sit on the toilet or take the stairs (!) and using heating pads and ice for those tight muscles. All of these trials would be a perfect excuse to not continue. In the past? Maybe. Now? Not a chance.
I posted a quote on my Instagram a couple days ago that really struck a nerve with me and how I feel.
I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me; pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness.
All the aches and pains that I feel, I created. When I’m urging my muscles to slam that medicine ball down harder, to push that sled across the turf quicker, to hold that plank for another 30 seconds, I am bettering myself. I welcome them, because that pain is pushing me to do better. I am pushing myself 100% just as I intended, and I will continue to do so.
As I stated in the beginning of [this post], I’m very reflective. I’m constantly trying to better myself and evolve into the best person I can be. I think back to the nervous girl I was last year, entering the gym with my workout plan clutched in my sweaty palms. I even remembering noticing that I smeared my stick figure drawings on my workout plan that showed me how to correctly hold a weight.
HOLD a weight!
I didn’t even know how to hold a weight.
Today, I look at that same girl. I do boot camp classes 3-4 times a week through Power Train 360 and continue to lift several days a week. Recently, I’m challenging myself in new ways, beginning to incorporate interval training and running into my workouts and pushing myself to try the “more challenging” exercises during boot camp. I also have decided to compete in a Spartan Sprint in July, so let the training begin!
Physically, I have gained 10-12 pounds of muscle, although I no longer worry about the scale. When I wasn’t exercising, I used to be SO consumed with the number on the scale but now rarely think about it. I am about 13 pounds away from the heaviest I was prior to joining Weight Watchers, and I’m in the best shape of my life. It makes you realize that the number is just that, a number.
Mentally, I am tougher than I ever have been. After losing two close relatives in one month, I turned to the gym for solace and comfort, and finally overcame my fear of dead lifts. After dealing with something as traumatic as multiple deaths in your family, a dead lift pales in comparison.
To know that I am doing things physically that I never thought I could do gives me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It makes me want to see just how far I can physically push myself to succeed. As cliché as it sounds, I realized you can do anything you set your mind to if you’re not afraid of the hard work that goes with it.
To all of my New Year’s Resolution “newbies” – I was you. I was in your very shoes. I know how you feel, and I sympathize with you, because I know how scared I was to doing something out of my comfort zone. But trust me, you won’t regret it.
You were born to do great things, so go out and do them.