No but seriously…
Think about a time where you decided to do a “simple at home workout”. Let’s just use the basic things like push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, squats, planks, or whatever tickles your fancy. So you set out to do these pre-determined 5 sets of 30 crunches and 30 squats… You do the first 30 crunches and then it seems like a good idea to lay there for 5 seconds to catch your breathe. That 5 seconds turns into 30 and then you start your squats and that same thing happens after those are completed. You sit down on the floor to do your crunches and then maybe you feel like you just HAVE to change the song on your iPod and then… Well you get the picture. We are all guilty of this at some point.
So what is the problem with that not so pretty little picture I just painted for you? The fact that, yes even though the exercises are being completed, did that person’s heart rate spike even once? I can basically guarantee not. Progress isn’t made, muscle isn’t toned, and FAT IS DEFINITELY NOT BURNED without an increase in your heart rate… Unless you have some magic potion that you aren’t sharing with the rest of the world… And if that is the case you are a bad person and someone should have taught you that sharing is caring when you were a child hahaha…
Ahhh, supplements. Glorious glorious supplements. These little devils are the subject of probably the biggest “should I, shouldn’t I” debate in fitness. I’m gonna go ahead and just straighten this out right way… If this is something you’ve spent time really considering, chances are it’s because you should. BUT that does not mean you should run right now and buy out all of GNC. Take a chill pill (not literally lol) and let’s have a little discussion about these things…
Non-dairy (Beef/Egg) v. Dairy (Whey and/or Casein): There are so many different kinds of protein and really which one you should take is dependent on your goals, desired results, and preference.
And you should probably calm down a bit.
And to all my wonderful ladies out there who are kicking ass and taking names, YES you can take supplements. You can have a protein shake. You can take a pre-workout. You can survive things with creatine in them and still look like a female. Still remember that our bodies do function differently than a man’s does. We will gain water weight quicker. (It sucks I know!) So be smart with what you take, always do what is most beneficial for you, but do not be afraid of supplements. Personally, I do want to see some lean muscle mass and visible muscle tone on my own body. I want to be strong. But I also DO NOT want biceps as big as someone’s thigh. I take what I need to get the figure and strength and results that I want to see both in my workouts and after them. If you don’t want to take anything then don’t but do not let someone tell you that you shouldn’t JUST because you are a female… End Scene.
So it’s Monday morning… Your alarm goes off. 5am?! Already? Reaaaally?! You automatically hit the snooze button. Then, what seems like 30 seconds later, you hear that horrible noise again. 5:30am. You sit up and rub your eyes as you look disappointingly at the clock. You glance over at your sneakers sitting across the room and then back at your pillow. A million things are rushing around your mind; thoughts of all the ways you could rationalize laying back down and curling up in a ball… Just ya know for another hour or so and then you will feel more well rested and you will definitely get up to go for a run. Maybe. I mean do you really need to do the front squat workout you know you’re in store for this morning? Should you really start your week off feeling tired? It is only Monday morning, right? You can totally make up for sleeping in today by going hard through your other workouts during the week….
True story. In fact that little anecdote paints the picture of exactly what my 5am looked like this very morning. Sometimes that inner voice, ya know that one that contradicts just about well EVERYTHING you do, tries with all its might to get the better of us. This morning, as I reluctantly got out of my warm cozy bed and strung up my bright yellow Reeboks, I played out every possible situation in my mind. Not just how today would look if I did or didn’t go to CrossFit this morning but how it would affect (negatively or positively) my entire week… and month… and next couple of months… and next year. I went from thinking about how nice it would be to just sleep a little longer today to thinking about how I will feel when I look in the mirror in a few months or fail trying a higher weight on my next strength day and then wish I had done a little more because I haven’t hit my goals.
Needless to say, I got my ass up out of that bed and killed that Death By Front Squats workout. And strangely enough I did not feel exhausted. Actually I felt amazing. I even came home to do some quick arm workouts (I mean I do have a bridesmaids dress to look stunning in by October 12th lol) and a plank or three. Even now at 10pm I feel like a million bucks PLUS my mind is at ease knowing I didn’t let my excuses get the best of me.
But enough about me… I bring it up because this is all too common a problem. It’s not because we are lazy or weak. It’s not because we don’t have motivation or believe in ourselves. It’s because WORKING OUT REGULARLY IS HARD. It’s because your mind is a funny place and it likes to play tricks on you. Just as the title of this says, you are very much your own worst enemy. Only you can control what thoughts you allow yourself to entertain, which you reject immediately, and which you let make your decisions.
Most often we are vulnerable to talking ourselves out of things. It is much easier to talk yourself out of doing something than it is to talk yourself into doing something. We have a tendency to rationalize our negative behaviors. STOP RATIONALIZING! How many times have you convinced yourself that it was okay to just go back to sleep or have that extra piece of cake or not rush yourself after work? Now, how many times have you convinced yourself to meet your friends a little later than they planned because you should probably take the time to go out of your way and go to the gym first? Exactly.
Now of course rest days are a very necessary part of any good and successful fitness regime and I will talk about those at some point. So don’t think I am telling you to never take a day off.. Your body will hate you and rebel against you, trust me haha. What I am saying is to realize when a legitimate extra rest day may be needed and when you are just giving in to temptation. Once we begin to let ourselves rationalize unneeded rest days is when we begin a slippery slope. Good habits are quick to cave and what might be one rationalized day of sleeping in can really quickly and suddenly turn into only going to the gym twice a week and eating chips in your bed at night. (Been there, done that at least a dozen times or more.) If you avoid walking that fine line and steer clear of the gray area all together, you prevent the doldrums before they are even a risk.
The easiest way to find continued success in a life of fitness is to learn how to control your thoughts. Decide right now, this very minute, that you will NOT let your mind get the best of you. I challenge each and every one of you that reads this to take back the wheel. My challenge to you is that next time you are contemplating whether you really need this workout or if you can just skip it today, talk yourself into dragging your butt to the gym! Tell yourself to just suck it up and go rather than giving in. Pump yourself up with all the reasons why you can and should kill the workout today. Be your own cheerleader… as well as your own (healthy) competition.
With that said, I will tell you the top 4 things to add to your checklist when deciding if a workout regime is the right out for you:
1. Is it something that excites you?
First and foremost, it needs to be something that you will be motivated to do every day. Many times our gym routines get boring and repetitive. This is when people just kinda ya know slowly but surely stop going to the gym. I mean come on how exciting is it to walk on the same treadmill for the same distance at the same pace listening to the same music every day? There are tons of ways that you can make an ordinary gym routine bounds more exciting (and I will devote an entire post to just that at some point). You just have to be willing to do so. Find something that, even on the days where the last thing you wan to do is to get out of that cozy bed in the morning or stop at the gym before reaching your couch, keeps you excited enough for the workout for that day that you can’t imagine NOT hitting the gym.
2. Does it really challenge you? Does it push you out of your comfort zone?
I mean really really challenge you. Be honest with yourself. Are you doing yourself and your abilities justice with these workouts? I will tell you that before I started CrossFit I had NEVER touched a barbell in my life. I didn’t even know what half these lifts meant. I was shaking in my little Nikes the first time I set foot in my box (or gym for non CrossFit enthusiasts haha). So clearly I was challenging myself then but it is easy to get complacent in anything. There are people who have been CrossFitting much longer than myself who still scale down workouts I don’t or avoid heavier weights simply because they are scared to fail. Think of it like you should be able to leave each workout with pride in your eyes and know you did something that pre-fitness you would have never even imagined doing. It isn’t until you are pushing yourself past your “breaking points” that you will see yourself change.
3. Is it realistic for the long term? Is it something you can envision yourself doing not a month from now but a year from now?
There are a million fad diets and workouts that go so far to the other side of extreme that it becomes impossible for people to hold them up over a longer period of time. Very often we are impulsive and get so “gung ho” about things that we go 2,000% in and burn out much more quickly than we intended. Once we hit the burn out stage, it is easy to “give ourselves some time off” and end up never really getting back into a routine. Then eventually we are right back where we started before we decided to get fit. It is good to be enthusiastic but be weary of things that require too much too soon. Work yourself into a good routine at a pace that is right for you.
4. Is there potential for growth?
One of the most important things is the potential for growth. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting new results. This is so pertinent when talking about fitness. When I was in college, my usual day at the gym consisted of an hour on the elliptical or treadmill or stairmaster or any combination of them and then messing around with some variation of crunches. I still got my ass to the gym every day because I was mostly concerned with my appearance (like most adolescent females). Now, unless I had set some clear goals for time or distance on these cardio machines, what was I really getting out of this routine? Not a lot. That’s why it did not last past graduation. It’s been researched time and again that humans are more inclined to push themselves when there are goals to be reached. Aren’t you much more likely to get that work done at the office when there is a deadline versus if say your boss told you to do whatever you’d like? Yeah, I thought so. Think of your fitness in the same way. When we have something to work towards not only are we more likely to follow through with workouts but we are also much more likely to put in double the effort. We want those bragging rights.
So just remember, nothing is instant. Results will take time, sometimes more time than we want ideally. Do not be afraid to try everything under the sun until you find that one thing that really clicks. I tell people all the time that if you belong to a gym already go to every single class they offer. Try them all. You never know what is going to strike a cord and end up being that perfect thing that ignites a flame within you and encourages you to do everything in your power to never give up the feeling you get during a workout.
How many times have you seen a professional athlete, body builder, CrossFit games competitor (in my case) achieve something and think “HOLY SH*T! I could never do that” ? How many times have you heard a trainer, coach, fitness expert, nutritionist talk about getting in shape and staying fit and think “yeah that’s easy for you to say” ?
Every single one of us are guilty of this at some point or another. Even those athletes, trainers, and experts that are giving the advice thought the same thing when they started their fitness journey. I still hear my CrossFit coach talk about competitors using adjectives like “inhuman“, “unbelievable“, “impossible“. So if this is really the case and these people we look up to have some sort of super human power that we could never hope to possess then why in the world would anyone aim to be them? Why are we even bothering? I’ll let you in on a little secret…
There is no super power. They are all human too. The people whose fitness we envy all started out just like you and me. The key is turning that envy into inspiration. That doesn’t just mean telling yourself you can do something it means really actually believing it; finding that inner strength to truly push yourself past every single breaking point or limit you thought existed and watching your body fail one day to see it be better the next. It means accepting that this may be the hardest thing you do in your life, facing that fear of change that is instilled in every one of us and grabbing the bull by it’s horns… But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Really, to begin with, that means going from a point of contemplation to a point of action.
In beginning my 6th month of CrossFit, I decided that it was time make the move from just Instagram-ing my fitness journey to putting it in writing, in black and white where people can see it, question it, judge it, and hopefully take something from it. The goal of this blog is to share with you how I went from the envious, self-loathing, hot&cold exerciser who tried to wish herself into better shape to the motivated CrossFit obsessed woman I am now. I will not pretend to be perfect or know everything but I WILL use the knowledge I’ve acquired so far, and am continuing to gain every day, along with my own progress and results in hopes to light a spark or help things click for at least one person.
This is the fitness journey of a real person written for real people…