Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working Out Is The Best Form Of Therapy

Things have definitely changed for the better. I have more energy, more clarity and it finally feels like I am "getting my shit together", in all areas of my life. I have found my innermost self, buried beneath the rubble. She is fierce and powerful. I have begun digging her out. It is a slow process. There are heavy stones to unearth, twisted amongst the roots but I am making progress and progress is key.

Some "Aha!" moments and things I've grasped lately have made a huge impact on my commitment and motivation to a healthy life:

1. Create a vision. What do you want to achieve? Dig deep and figure it out. Only you know what that is. It has nothing to do with anyone else, you are doing this for you. It might not even be clear at first, but that's where the digging comes in. Search that soul and come up with an answer. This is the starting place to which everything else aligns.

2. Find a mantra for when the going gets tough. Because it will get tough! Mentally and physically. And you will want to quit! When your muscles are a blazing inferno, your lungs are about to burst, and you think you can do no more, remember it is your mind who runs the ship. The mind and body are a strong beast together. Remind it. Don't stop reminding it! "No pain, no gain!"

3. Figure out what or who inspires you and put them up where you can see it as a constant reminder. I've turned my fridge into a canvas of motivation with Erin Stern and Monica Brant, and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger... my top three, along with my fitness schedule. Not only does seeing this everyday remind me of my goals and make me want to workout, it also makes me think twice about what I am fueling my body with. It really does work!

4. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it! No excuses. There's 24 hours in each day and you will find a way to make the time, if it is something that you really want. My plan is a 3-day split, which I repeat so I'm working every muscle group twice a week. Sundays are my day off and I take another day off of cardio as well, usually Friday. I found I have been able to do it by easing into it. You do what you can and build upon it. Start with 1 set instead of 3. Do 8 reps instead of 12. Do two exercises for each body part, or five. Whatever works for that day, do it. The main point is to stick to your schedule and build up the intensity at your own pace.

4. Arnold's New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. This book is a huge source of inspiration, motivation and really, really good information with personal insights and tips from the Austrian Oak himself. Not to mention some really sweet bodybuilding pictures! Holy crap, I couldn't put it down. Read this book cover to cover, over and over.

5. Everything I can do at the gym, I can do at home. I can work all my muscle groups with dumbells, a Body Bar, an exercise ball and my own body weight. Reasons working out at home rocks:
  • Save money every month on a gym pass
  • Workout when you want for as long as you want
  • No waiting for equipment
  • No going out in the freezing cold (cold=big time demotivator!)
  • Use the time you would use to commute to the gym for something productive
  • Listen to the tunes you want without having to blast your iPod over the music and risk going deaf
  • No chance of forgetting your panties or shampoo and lugging around giant gym bags
6. Jillian Michaels. These workout dvds kick ass! You know you're getting a good workout when every single inch of your body feels like it is about to explode.
7. Fitness is a way of life. Yes I have goals, but when I reach them it's not like I can just stop working out and eat whatever I want and that's it. I am going to have to commit to this for life. I'm either in or out, all or nothing.

8. Burpees. I have learned to love them! They are genius. "Burpees, guys", as Funk Roberts says so himself.

9. Connect with like-minded people. Having someone to share progress with is an awesome source of encouragement! My sister and uncle are my biggest motivators. Both of them are committed to the same lifestyle and goals. True, we have our own vision of where we'd like to be, but ultimately we are working toward a healthy life - both in mind and in body.

10. Listen to your body. There's no way I could have kept going with this, had I not figured this one out. I've tried and failed so many times, starting and stopping and never achieving my goals. I finally realized that the reason I kept failing is because I wasn't listening. Once I started listening and allowing myself to do this in the way I need to do it, my entire approach changed. Rather than punishing myself, I am embracing myself. If I just don't have the energy that day to do the entire workout, I do half. If I need a rest day, I take it and make up for it the next day. If I want a coffee in the morning, I have it. If I want chocolate, I have that too. All within reason of course. If I am eating clean the majority of the time, the "treats" are not going to matter. If I am eating compulsively, I start to explore my emotions, what is really going on and try to find healthier solutions. Doing it this way, I'm finding my cravings have nearly diminished and I don't have any negativity surrounding my progress. There's no room for it! There's no guilt. There's no beating myself up over small indulgences or failing to meet unrealistic expectations I've created for myself...and getting frustrated with my "lack of control" or "lack of commitment". I am committed and it is an amazing shift in perspective.

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