Time for another fitness post! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I don’t love just one form of exercise.
I rotate between running, biking, hiking, yoga, rowing, and weightlifting. And I will never the best at any of these things. But maybe that’s okay!
Maybe moderation in all of these things is what’s best over a lifetime. That’s how it is with a lot of things anyway, including food.
Maybe it’s better to not worry about being the best at any one thing – and just have fun exploring all my passions.
Maybe it’s a tad healthier to keep my body guessing, and keep things fresh.
Or maybe I’m just making excuses…but either way, let’s dig into it!
My History With Exercise
The funny thing about my relationship with fitness is that I actually hate sports.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated sports. I was homeschooled so thankfully I never had to suffer through gym class. But I suffered through plenty of youth group games. (I would sit out whenever possible.)
I know what it feels like to get picked last for the kickball team.
I know what it feels like to be the last one left in a game of dodgeball – not because I’m a great dodger but because most people on the other team probably didn’t realize I was playing since I hid in the back and pretended to be invisible.
I played soccer for a short time as a youngster – and the main thing I remember is that we weren’t actually playing soccer, we were just running around, chasing a ball.
I was a girly little girl. The only sports that intrigued me as a child were figure skating and gymnastics. I was probably too tall / too clumsy to do either one but that didn’t keep me from “skating” all around the house in my socks.
All that to say, I couldn’t believe how much I loved running when I first started doing it after having my first child.
I’m forever grateful to my friends who encouraged me to attempt my first-ever 5K mud run about five months after giving birth. My goal was simply to run the whole thing – and I did!
But I didn’t stop there. I’d caught the running bug. Running was something I could do with my son in the stroller – something that made me feel like a human, and not “just a mom.”
The endorphins and the empowerment running gave me were incredible. I couldn’t stop. I ran all the time – mostly just around our neighborhood.
I was floored when I received my first medal for a 5K in the mail. (I hadn’t stayed for the awards because I didn’t think I had a shot at winning anything!) Apparently I was getting kinda good at it.
Athleticism wasn’t something anyone ever told me I was good at. So I started to tell myself that I wasn’t good at it. And I believed myself.
Yeah, I’d get comments about how tall I was. And asked “Don’t you play volleyball at least? You’re so tall!” Well…I hate to break it to you, but being tall doesn’t automatically make a person good at basketball or volleyball.
But I started to really believe that I could be good at sports. At running, anyway.
There was no hand-eye coordination involved.
There were no peers there to laugh at me if I couldn’t throw or hit a ball to save my life.
There were no spectators, watching and evaluating my every move.
It was just me against myself – trying to be faster than I was yesterday.
Running Less, Lifting More
I’m ever so grateful to have discovered running when I did. There’s no question that it helped stabilize my emotions after having both my kids.
To me, running was never about losing the baby weight or making myself look like I hadn’t had kids. Running was absolutely necessary for my entire wellbeing.
But it was just last year that I discovered another passion – weightlifting.
The great thing about lifting is that, unlike running, your workout doesn’t get longer as you get stronger. You can simply add more weight to your existing routine. Progressive overload is what makes you stronger, not the length of time spent in the gym.
I’m self-taught through e-books and the internet, but I absolutely love it. I love how empowering it is for women to gain strength and lift heavy weights. It makes me feel powerful, beautiful and capable at the same time.
Being strong makes motherhood easier. It also makes me more confident in general. I’m sure it has helped my posture. Like most tall, awkward people, I used to slouch a lot. But no matter what I look like on the outside, I know what I’m capable of on the inside. I know I’m strong. It gives me an undeniable sense of calm and confident energy. That alone is worth it. (And it builds strong bones, so it’s a great sport for all women, at any age!)
I could write more how-to posts about lifting if there is interest. Let me know! I know it’s intimidating to walk into a gym with no prior experience, but it’s also hard to know what to buy if you’re setting up a home gym for the first time. If this is you, I’d love to help guide you through it!
The Art of Getting There
When I’m in a workout funk and have no desire to lift or to run, the motivation of getting somewhere I need to be is still there. My husband and I are a one-car family, and let me tell you – this really helps motivate us to get out there and sweat!
My husband bikes to work every day, and I used to bike to work, before I quit my job two years ago. Biking is thrilling and wonderful and it makes me SO happy. I can’t even explain how happy it makes me. Even though I’m obeying all the laws of the road, I feel like I’m somehow breaking the “rules” and being rebellious.
Maybe it’s because there aren’t a lot of cyclists in my part of St. Louis. I’m really hoping this changes in the near future. The more cyclists that are on the road, the safer the roads will be. Drivers will get more accustomed to us once there’s more of us – and hopefully more bike lanes too!
Biking is great because it’s easier on the joints than running – and it’s thrilling because you go so fast! You also have the best of both the vehicle and the pedestrian worlds when you’re biking. At least St. Louis, bikes can ride on the sidewalks when necessary, and in the streets when necessary. Bikes can go places that cars can’t and places that pedestrians can’t.
And if riding in the street makes you shudder at first, ease into it by going first thing on a weekend morning. You’ll have the streets to yourself, and be able to build that confidence slowly over time. It also helps to travel in groups at first, because they are highly visible and everyone looks out for each other.
Join the Club
If you need motivation to workout, find a club to join! This is one of the great things the internet is capable of – connecting us with like-minded groups of people to support us and push us to do more than we ever thought possible.
Two years ago, I joined an amazing bike club. I absolutely love my bike club pals! They are the reason I keep biking, even though I no longer commute to work on a bike. I look forward to our Saturday rides so much! Sometimes we’re having so much fun that I forget I’m getting a workout too!
I also joined a local rowing club back in February and it has been wonderful! Having a set time and a place to be, and accountability from the rest of the group and the coach makes a huge difference! Whenever possible, I’d encourage you to include other people in your workouts. Even if I have the motivation to workout alone, I will get push myself harder if someone is there cheering me on. So find that community and enjoy the fellowship and progress it brings!
I hope this brief look into how I went from hating sports to working out almost daily has been inspiring. I hope you’re ready to try something new, experiment a little, and keep your body guessing! (Rowing deserves it’s own post, so that will be coming soon! Keep an eye out!)
How do you integrate workouts into your lifestyle in practical ways? How do you keep workouts affordable? Has your passion for different workouts grown or diminished over time? How do you take care of your body but also keep it guessing?
Cover photo credit: Alex Marie