Back in December I decided I needed a change to my physical health. I fully committed to being active in some way, shape, or form a majority of the days (5-6) in each week.
It was painful when I initially started for many reasons.
Physically, my body was not ready for this drastic change. I played competitive sports all through middle school, high school, and briefly in college. That was almost a dozen years now. I had not done any consistent working out since then, besides walking, which I tried to do as often as possible. So I was combating a decade of lethargy. I wanted to be at that same athletic level right away. When I started, I was barely doing a mile without feeling my chest was going to cave in. It was extremely frustrating, but I kept pushing myself a bit harder each time I worked out. Slowly, I realized I was going farther, faster, and feeling more comfortable.
Mentally, I found I was fighting myself daily to go to the gym. I was constantly coming up with excuses: it’s too late; you have other things to do; take a day off; let’s watch that movie instead; you are wasting your time; and, so forth. But I kept forcing myself to go. I knew as soon as I gave in to those thoughts all would be lost. I have an addictive personality. If I could get into some sort of a routine, I knew that it would stick. I just needed to push through that initial barrier.
Emotionally, a lot was happening around me in my personal and professional life. Working out provided me with two different avenues. One, a chance to reflect on what was going on and think about my options and what was happening. Second, to get lost in the workout and block out everything; to simply focus on the exercise at the time. I would vacillate between these two options depending on the day and what was happening in my life. Ultimately, my decision to start working out could not have come at a better time for my emotional health.
I started out doing a combination of recumbent bike, elliptical, and running (treadmill/outside depending on the weather). Now, I solely run. The initial goal was by the end of May to be able to run to work once a week, which is approximately the distance of a 10k.
Three months later, I am running 5-6 times a week, averaging 25 miles each week, and almost 30 lbs lighter. I am definitely a better runner now than when I was wrestling in college. I am not in wrestling shape, but I am definitely a much better runner compared to my 18-19 year old self. I was fortunate that my family and friends were there to push me. They bought me workout clothes for Christmas. As silly as it may sound that having workout clothes was an influence, but it honestly was. I felt better about working out in my new shorts and shirts made for running. My mom would check in with me about how much I weighed and how I was feeling. My brother would text me and send me tips. My friend would do the same and helped me to adapt to a better running plan along with stretching tips.
People started noticing that I was losing weight which obviously made me feel better about myself, even though it was not necessarily a goal of mine. That encouragement made me want to do more. It boosted my self-esteem. It was helpful that I stopped drinking almost two years ago and I have always had a somewhat healthy diet, both resulting from my time living in California. So those were changes that had been in the works and made my physical transformation a bit easier. I was able to focus solely on the physical component and not also spend energy on completely adjusting my diet.
I feel different since this change. I have more energy. I sleep better. I have to force myself to take days off from running. Even if I am feeling terrible, my joints ache, I had a bad day at work, running helps me feel better.
I have no desire to run marathons or races. I do want to have faster splits. My competition is myself. I want to push myself further and harder to see what I am capable of doing. I know I can be better than I currently am. Months ago, I did not think I would be where I am now. I am running 10ks regularly in my weekly routine, so my initial goal is conquered even if I have not actually made the run from my apartment to work yet. I am starting to add some additional components including jumping rope to work on my dexterity and have a giant exercise ball as my desk chair in the office. I am starting to work on my core a bit more and have my foam roller to assist with sore muscles and joints.
This transformation has been completely different than what I was expecting, but pleasant nonetheless. It is exciting to see where it will continue to take me.