The pros and cons of working out

I know I am supposed to say how great I feel now that I am working out again. I am supposed to talk about how much more energy I have and how it makes me want to eat healthier, etc, etc, etc.

And those are all valid things. But it’s bringing up other feelings that I think are worth examining.

In what feels like another lifetime, I was a personal trainer. For three years (and some time before that and a while after) I was pretty rigid with what I ate and when and what I did for my workouts. It was like a prescription I followed to a T. I took it very seriously, and tried to not preach too much to my friends.

I left that job and eventually realized that my body looks relatively the same with the specific diet and workout regimen as it does when I am doing those things in moderation. And then I thought “what if I swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum and do what I want when I want and eat the food I want?”

So I did. And I enjoyed it. And I was ok with it.

And then I started putting on weight, and I was ok with it. It was kinda nice to have curves again. It made me feel more feminine. And there was a big lesson in embracing my body in every shape.

When my clothes were fitting differently, I noticed and wasn’t completely happy that these clothes fit differently. But I made an important distinction- I wasn’t going to work out because I was unhappy with my body. I wanted to love my body as it is and when I chose to workout again it would be because I am celebrating what my body can do, because it makes me feel good, because it gives me energy, etc.

And it happened about two weeks ago. The running bug was back. And close behind it was the urge to get back to the gym and pick up kettlebells again (my favorite tool in the gym). And I was excited to get back.

But here’s the rub. You don’t pick up where you left off. You are knocked way, way back. Last year at this time, I was running a few miles easily. And now, a mile and a half in my neighborhood has me winded. And I had to pick up lighter weights in the gym. Stamina and strength were definitely not what they were.

And I have a gut reaction to criticize myself and beat myself up. “If you hadn’t quit you’d be better off.” “Why can’t you do what you used to?” “Oh, this tank top and shorts looks really different in the mirror- is that a fat roll??”

That doesn’t serve me, or my overall goal. My goal is to feel better, to feel stronger, to have energy. And I can’t get there by hating on my body. So I cranked up the music, gave a little dance to celebrate that I was there, and got back to work.

It helped me to focus on my goal, which was simply to feel good and not to look good for anyone else’s criteria, and to do what I came to do. It’s not what I expected, and that is ok. Just show up, do the work.

What have you recently struggled with and how did you overcome it? Can you relate to body issues? I would love to hear what you think!


2 thoughts on “The pros and cons of working out

  1. Hey!

    I’m loving your blog (followed!) but I would also like to invite you to submit a short piece to my own. I think your perspective and style of writing would be a perfect piece for my project.

    It’d also be a great way to get your blog/writing out there.

    Please feel free to email me (jennifer@youngandtwenty) with more questions, or take a look at the ‘BEING Young & Twenty’ page on my blog.

    I hope I’ll hear from you 🙂


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