A Surprising Self Care Moment
“Are you a runner? You look fit and trim … you can eat whatever you want.” … “You never have to be concerned with eating ‘healthy foods’.” These statements from many ladies to my lovely ole self was my crutch for years. This was my free pass to eat poorly and laugh my way to the out of shape not so healthy club. Funny but really not so funny.
My fitness self-care aha moment was yet to come!
My “workout” consisted of twice weekly …sometimes three times weekly… walking and even that was just going for a slow and easy stroll.
My mindset was this… I’m doing something and not just sitting around. My go-to food choices? Lots of carby breads/pastas/cereals/cookies and a few candy bars sprinkled in just because I could. After all, I “looked like a runner”. I gave myself access and permission to literally sit in the status quo line and to be okay with “just ok”.
I recall my first “Aha!” wake up moment vividly. I literally needed a crutch to help me up off the floor. My cousin asked me to do a pilates video workout with her (this was back in the day!). Sure, I thought…This is going to be easy and an excuse to eat some carbs when done. We chose the beginner pilates core workout.
Warm up seemed easy and I was ready to get down to the workout. We started on the floor and began with single, and then double leg lifts. Next, it was side lying upper body double leg lifts. Guess what? I couldn’t make it any further. I was out of breath and spent. I couldn’t lift both legs off the floor nor could I navigate a small chin to chest crunch. Enter the proverbial “Aha! moment”. Time to take action immediately? Nope. I simply realized I was “out of shape” and would do something eventually at some point.
“Aha!” moment #2. I eventually was in good enough shape to take group fitness classes. Being a people person, I wanted to connect with the ladies who took classes more, so I became certified as a group fitness instructor. My small gym had some class openings and they needed a “warm body” to lead something for the clients who came to the classes: weights, cardio, cycle. Because I looked the part…“like a runner”, I was asked to lead classes so they could offer this on their schedule.
Management never checked to see if I could teach.
As long as I showed up, and was friendly to the clients, all was great to them. I played loud music to offset my lack of fitness and, let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. “Why is her face so red and she is really out of breath?” was a stellar comment regarding my group cycle class offering. Anywhere else, I would’ve been fired asap for being such a poor example. But my gym wanted a person in place to lead a class and had no standards. You would think I would’ve been even more motivated to get it together after hearing those comments! Nope.
“Aha! moment” #3. Yoga became my calling and I truly loved this form of movement that offered me so much more. I took a 200 yoga teacher training and really began to learn what it meant to be fit both inside (emotionally) and out (physically). Oh, I tried to do in yoga what I tried in group fitness and guess what? It didn’t work with yoga either. My “fake it till I make it” mentality had seemingly placed my bootie in the passenger seat of zero fitness lifestyle.
I realized with humility that it was me and only me responsible for the level of real fitness I wanted to achieve. In yoga, I aspired to do arm balances and side arm one legged planks, but fell short due to lack of overall muscular fitness. What I received was a shoulder injury that nearly sidelined me. My pain was not going anywhere and ignoring it didn’t make it hide. I thought I was done. Then I did something. I sought medical attention and chiropractic care. I did the exercises I was told to do and rested my shoulder by not overusing it during this time.
Ten years later and “Aha! moment” #4!
What was it I truly wanted to be, do, and become going forward? I knew I wanted to continue leading yoga classes, that I did have a gift of guiding and motivating my students, but I had to walk my talk and talk my walk first. I worked with a personal trainer to get in better shape. I took yoga teacher training master classes. I hiked. I practiced yoga daily and lifted weights.
Going forward with the rest of life, I knew that this was it for me. I was tired of faking fitness by looking the part and wanted to live in total fitness to feel good and be of service as a role model.
I became curious and interested in muscle movement, in how it felt, and what I noticed. Slowly, over a 2 year period, my body truly shaped up. I understood what becoming fit was about and, also, what true fitness felt like in my body.
My “Aha!” fitness moment had many many moments and took ten years to accomplish. I’m older now and wiser! I’m In better shape than I’ve ever been my whole life.
My advice to you on your fitness and wellness journey
Don’t give up. You may have several attempts and that’s okay. You may think you are onto something only to get sidelined. Don’t let this stop you. Choose another fitness path if others don’t work for you. Go easy on yourself and have kindness and acceptance. Look for and find your own Aha self-care moment! Whether you are a casual sometimes exerciser or a weekend warrior … whether you want to become more fit or aspire to be finally fit, give yourself plenty of time to learn to care for yourself going forward!
Give yourself permission to become your best over time versus expecting big gains in a few months. It does take time for your muscles, bones, and joints to get the message! Stay curious and interested in your progress. Make exercise your daily and weekly habit!
It’s the little wins that add up over time for the big wins. For me, steady and slow was the recipe I didn’t know I needed until later. Slow gains and a big dose of self-compassionate patience equaled full fitness abundance. This is my wish for you as well.
Here’s to your “Aha!” fitness moments!