Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding Motivation Through the Turkey

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful tryptophan filled Thanksgiving!

Mine was full of friends, a puppy, games of pool, football and a cracker dip that I swear had crack added to it.

I of course celebrated Thanksgiving night in the traditional way, with an absolute food coma. I won't disturb you with a picture of myself in my food coma state as it was not a pretty picture. Instead enjoy this food coma reenactment with a corgi puppy:

As the day before yesterday was Black Friday (which I am proud to say I did not even attempt to partake in), marking the official start of the crazed holiday shopping season, I feel it an appropriate time for a little bit of a shameless plug.

If you're looking for a fun, bizarre and entertaining gift for this Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate) Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus is sure to pleasantly bemuse even the most humorless person in your life!

Also, money from every copy of the book sold in the month of November and December will go to support the YWCA in its efforts to fight racism, help victims of domestic violence and empower communities for social justice.

Well I spent Black Friday in my traditional way, sitting in my apartment, watching cheesy movies and writing!

The only time I left my abode was to go to the gym in an effort to burn off a bit of the Thanksgiving stuffing. I was pleased to see the gym bustling with new faces who were probably there attempting to do the same thing.

I have been going to the gym on a daily basis for over five years now, and I've noticed, no matter where I'm living or what gym I'm in, there tends to be a surge of new gym attendees every year about this time.

The gym boom usually starts right after Thanksgiving, growing in numbers through Christmas, reaching its peak right after New Years, when the Resolutioners show up, and tapers off around February. 

I'm not going to lie, getting into a workout routine and sticking to it is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but it has been absolutely worth it. Am I model thin? Oh hell no! But I am healthier and stronger for it. It genuinely makes me sad when I see the tapering off that happens in February.

I really want to encourage those who find themselves this season in the struggle to start exercising, either for the first time in their life, or after a long break. Which is why this week's post is devoted to the lessons I learned when I started regularly attending the gym, which I hope will help some of you stick to your gym-bound goals.

1. Do not start out trying to conquer the entire gym.

Seriously, take it easy and slowly work your way into it. No one starts out day one at the gym able to do three-hundred pound squats. The result of overdoing it on your first day will most likely be you walking this:

And having no motivation to go back to the gym ever again.

2. Set clear and realistic goals.

What do you want to accomplish by your excursions into fitness land? Be specific. The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to truly pursue them.

You want to lose weight? How much? You want to be stronger? How many pounds more do you want to be able to lift? Be as specific as you can. It's a lot easier to shoot for, "I'd like to be able to bicep curl 45 pounds, " than, "I'd like to be stronger."

 Also, try not to make these body-based goals. What I mean by that is while, "I want to be able to have abs like Ryan Reynolds," is a nice goal to have, it's also one that is based not on fitness, but on appearances.

I have a bad knee that hurts when I do basically anything. My goal when I got back to the gym was to be able to run one mile consecutively without my knee giving out. I was able to progressively work towards that goal, and now I run as part of my daily workout. Am I graceful gazelle on the Serengeti? Nope! But I can run without excruciating pain.

3. Remember that change happens over time, not immediately.

There is no magic wand for fitness, though dear heavens I wish it existed. It all takes work. So don't be discouraged if you don't look like Emma Stone after two workouts, keep at it!

4. Don't dwell on missed days.

If you haven't worked out for three days, don't let that turn into three years. Accept that you have missed a few days, and resolve to not make it four days.

5. Don't compare yourself to others at the gym

Believe it or not those super fit people you see at the gym did not just wake up one morning looking like they belonged in underwear ads. That is why they are here too.

True fitness takes on all shapes and sizes. I am short and definitely no skinny-mini, but I can high pull 140 pounds at 10 reps, power squat 165 pounds for 20 reps and can spend 20 minutes on the rowing machine at 100 percent resistance rowing a 2:30 min/500 m pace.

Your body's definition of fit is going to look totally different than the person in the gym right next to you, so don't try to compare.

6. Find a workout buddy or a class to go to.

It's a lot harder to skip out on workouts when you have a scheduled time to go and someone who can guilt trip you into going.

If you do decide to start taking a fitness class, make sure it's one you enjoy. If you choose to do Zumba and you hate dancing, you will last approximately half a class before deciding you have better things to do with your time.

I've also found social workout tracking sites, such as Fitocracy to be hugely helpful in staying motivated. Plus, they help you see the progress you're making, which is just awesome. 

7. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Seriously, I've been going to the gym consistently for five years now and there is still some equipment that I have no idea what it's used for. There is a reason that gym employees exist, if you don't know what something is, or if something will work well for you, then ask. Don't spend hours of time pointlessly doing something that will do you little to no good.

8. Get rid of your excuses.

There are a million and one reasons not to go to the gym. I'm sore, I'm tired, I ate too many nachos and now I feel gassy, I just don't want to...

Stop! Just stop! Stop thinking of the gym as a chore and instead think of it as an investment in your own health, longevity and happiness. Even if you work out from home for twenty minutes a day you are still doing something that is going to help you live a better life. So what excuse can trump that?

Well, I hope some of this helps! What are some things that you've found useful in obtaining your own fitness goals?

Remember, if you want to follow my adventures I can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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