What matters most

over the dinner bowl
 This week I work all 7:30 shifts. I think I mentioned this prior, when discussing my fears of working out after work. Today was day numero uno in my early morning sweaty sessions! My challenge this week is to kick my own ass each morning in 25-30 minutes tops! Today’s work out was not as kick-booty as I usually like it, but it was definitely a nice start to my challenge.
Learning to Let Go
If you had asked me a year ago to complete a 30 minute work out tops, I’d say: “that isn’t enough time”. Or, “I need to sweat for 60 minutes, or I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything”. I’m sure you know of people with similar mentalities. Or, maybe, you yourself have this mindset in regard to exercise. Well, let me tell you. You are completely and 100% wrong.
First and foremost, I don’t want to be rude, but if you’re spending that much time at the gym or working out (providing that you are not training for some legitimate athletic event like a triathlon or something to that extent) it leads me to wonder if you have much of a life, at all. Not to be rude. I know; I’ve been there. But, I didn’t have one at the time. My life was my work outs. Everything I did was surrounded by how I’d fit in my work out.
Now, to some extent, I completely understand this. Once you establish a relationship with fitness it becomes very important to you. I sometimes describe it as a shower, or teeth brushing. It becomes a need, not a want. It isn’t so much that you think you’ll die or something should you miss a work out, it’s just a high that you love and want to enjoy, daily.
What I’ve come to learn about exercise is that it is achievable. You just need to establish a few things first:
  1. Your goals: If you’re training for general health, your work outs will look different than if you’re training to lose fat or training to run a marathon/some other athletic competition. In the event that you’re training for an athletic event, you’ll need to research into said event and train accordingly (I am currently in no way authorized to expound any sort of training program, especially one which surrounds itself with such material). Alternatively, if you’re looking to lose fat/weight, you’ll most likely want to focus on increasing the amount of cardiovasular activity you partake in, while incorporating a balanced strength training routine and healthy diet. However in the event that you’re not looking to lose weight, but merely tone up and be fit and happy, you’re work out schedule is a little more flexible. On a general note, if it smart to do physical activity 30 minutes, five times a week.
  2. Your interest: If you don’t like to run, don’t run. If you don’t like to do yoga, don’t do yoga. When it comes to working out, it is very important for you to find out what specifically interests you, or else you will risk losing interest completely. I cannot count on my fingers how many people I’ve heard complain about their fitness regime. In my opinion, if you’re not enjoying it then what the heck is the point? There is a form of exercise, or physical activity, that can easily appeal to anyone. Heck, simply walking at a relatively brisk pace is enough to keep your heart healthy. You can establish your fitness interests by trying out new things every once in a while until you find something that you really enjoy. For me, I’ve discovered that I much prefer toning my body to preforming cardio. I enjoy activities like yoga and Pilates and body weight work. Since I know the importance of cardio, I try to incorporate at least 20 minutes of higher intensity cardio into my work outs, everyday. By doing my HIITs, while training my muscles, I’m able to get all I need from my workouts, without ever being bored.
  3. Your Fitness Relationship: This is by far the most important of the three. You need to establish what relationship you currently have with fitness. You might be thinking that you don’t have one, but you do. Mine used to be extremely unhealthy. It was obsessive and depressing. I didn’t do the work outs because I wanted to, but more because I felt I needed to. If I was on my bike, the obsession became about caloric burn (even though you and I both know that those things are completely ridiculous). Or, if I was doing a DVD, if I wasn’t keeping up perfectly with the actors in the video then I wasn’t working hard enough. I won’t lie to you, this was not an easy thing to overcome. No obsession is. Whether it be an obsession with gambling or food, working out or drinking too much, the moment you decide that it is time to overcome it is the moment you realize how strongly it has been weighing on your life.

So how did I do it?

Stopped comparing to other people
The first thing I did was realize that I am myself and no one else. I do what is best for me, as you should do what is best for you. This will easily differ for each individual. One person might be build to run endless miles, while another person might be best suited for hold yoga postures for an extended period of time. While one girl might want to work out daily, another girl might be perfectly happy working out 3-4 times a week. It’s all about you; no one else.

What works for me?

Each day I work out for 30-50 minutes. Of that time, 20-25 minutes is dedicated to cardio interval work that helps to tone the body, and the rest is completely dedicated to rather a) toning and sculpting or b) stretching. Sometimes only 16 minutes of my work outs are purely cardiovascular, as my toning exercises are intense enough to keep my heart rate elevated. I love it. This is perfect for me. No, maybe I don’t run marathons, but I preform 100 burpees as fast as possible. Take that!

Get rid of Calorie Counters and Scales
This part can often be the hardest part for some, but for me it was done like a band-aid. One, simple rip. I just simply covered it. Done. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I never really took to the scale and – oddly enough – I found myself to be more discouraged when I lost weight, then when I gained it. To me, that just proved I hadn’t yet recovered. The caloric count on my stationary bike was rough for me though. I would be sweating up a storm, exhausted, but I didn’t break 250, so I needed to keep going. That’s bullshit, guys. If this sounds anything like you, please cover that part. I find it way more effective to focus on miles! Doesn’t it sound way cooler to say, ‘I just did 10 miles on my bike’ than it does to say, ‘I burned 245 calories’? The miles sound like a feat, while the calories just sounds like an unhealthy calculation. Which, in most cases is most likely wrong.
So, how did I stop?
I decided (after a LOT of convincing) that my fitness levels and health were far more important to me than that high inaccurate number. I took a piece of this take (that black kind Omar uses as band-aids at work… electrical, perhaps) cut a small piece, covered the calorie count and called it a day. I have no desire to look at it anymore. Not at all. In fact, I haven’t even peaked!
I also did my research and discovered the importance of strength training and stretching in a balanced work out regime. The moment I discovered just how important those two were for me, it became pretty clear what needed to be done. Decrease my cardio and increase everything else. From there, I discovered my love for yoga (again), Pilates, Barre Method and… you guessed it, HIITs and other intervals.
Figure Out How You Can Fit Fitness into Your Life – without making it your Life
This could be either an easy or difficult task. See, in some situations, it calls for some commitment. Some mornings, I am up at 5 AM to get my work out in. Why so early? I love working out because it makes me feel good. But you know what else makes me feel good? Quality time with the ones I love. Not having to go through the day thinking, ‘I need to work out’. These things are far more important overall. It is really important that you don’t lose sight of the importance of the people around you. Fitness is 20-60 minutes of your day. That’s it. The rest of your day is about everything else.
Honestly, I don’t feel perfectly happy if I don’t get my 30-40 minutes in. And, I’ve come to accept that of my personality. There are worst things I could be addicted to. But, I don’t see it is something more important that my mother, boyfriend, father, dog, friends, etc. It’s very important to me, of course. I love my body and want to do what I can to ensure that it is strong and healthy and fit. But, my mind. That’s all them!
So what the heck am I saying?
Basically, I am just telling you to take a moment and evaluate your list of priorities. They can include fitness and health, but they should -without doubt- include the people you love the most.
It has taken me a while to realize this, I’m ashamed to admit. But now that I’ve come to the realization, I am so upset that I let all those days.
So, please. All people out there interested in fitness, or involved in it. Fit it into your life, please. Just don’t fit you life into it.
Stay sweet.

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