Hey guys! It’s time for the third installment of my guest post series, and this comes from one of my very best friends, Claire. She writes a blog about trying new things, which is also, helpfully, the theme of this post. In fact, a fitness-focused “new things” post was one of her first. I think you’re really going to enjoy this one because she is so completely relatable in her quest to find a fitness routine that works for her. Also, she hand-drew all of the pictures below, which I L-O-V-E. Enjoy!
Hello readers of Kaitlin with Honey! My name is Claire. I blog over at The Renaissance Woman. I write about trying new things and generally expanding my horizons. For my guest blog, I’m going to write about something near and dear to Kaitlin’s heart: exercise.
I should confess that exercise traditionally isn’t that near nor is it dear to my heart. My pattern has always been to start a new workout, go like crazy for a month or so, then my motivation fizzles out. I am kind of a genius at coming up with excuses to avoid working out – and I can easily convince myself that it is the right choice to be sitting on my couch eating chips and watching B movies on Netflix streaming.
The way I’ve been combating this tendency lately is by constantly giving myself new challenges to keep that motivation fresh. So I’m going to tell you how I go about finding work out plans that have worked out for me. (See what I did there?) Because, no matter if you are a fitness novice like me or an old hand at working out, like Kaitlin, sometimes you need to change things up to stay fresh.
Figure 1. Experience as represented by Kaitlin. Inexperience as represented by Claire.
The first thing I did was think back. Like many of us, my childhood didn’t involve spending twelve hours a day in front of a computer screen (as so many of my days do now). So I thought back to a time when I had a more active lifestyle, to a time when I moved my body not just to work out, but actually for the fun of it. I was counting on the principal that if I found it fun once, maybe I would again. So I took the plunge, literally. (Oh yes, I’m a pun user.)
Figure 2. Remembering myself in the ol’ swim team days.
I got back on the swimming bandwagon after ten years and loved it as much as I ever did. I looked around on the internet and adopted a program that would ease me back into the swimming routine. The goal? To swim one mile without stopping. Since I already had good form built into my muscle memory I was less worried about embarrassing/injuring myself at the gym. Of course I was still embarrassed (seriously, who feels 100% comfortable in their swimsuit?) and injuries included stubbed toes, and very sore muscles. Sure there were some days I didn’t want to go, but I persevered because I couldn’t stand the thought of failing to achieve my one-mile goal. It felt amazing to take back some of the strength and fun I’d enjoyed as a child, and as a bonus, I looked slightly less silly in my suit by the end of the six weeks. I intended to continue with swimming as my regular work out, but my short attention span and propensity for creative excuses quickly made my ‘regular’ workouts more ‘occasional’ workouts. So after six weeks in the pool I needed a change.
I started looking around at all of my amazingly in-shape friends and started asking them what they liked to do to work out. (To my surprise not a single person said they were just genetically perfect … they all participated in some form of exercise. Which was comforting.) My friends apparently enjoy rock-climbing, roller derby, cycling, bikram yoga, long distance running, weight training, and soccer leagues. I took my own likes and dislikes into account as I discussed with my friends the pros and cons of different fitness routines. I dislike working out in the mornings, I hate working out in a class (so many judging eyes), and I like to be able to stay as cool as possible since I tend to overheat which is not pretty. So obviously I found myself trying yoga for the first time at seven a.m. at one hundred and five degrees and surrounded by experienced yogis. Awesome.
Figure 3. Examples of my awesome friends doing what they love.
Perhaps it is here that I should mention that it is essential to keep an open mind when looking for a new exercise routine. I found out that most of my objections didn’t actually reflect my dislikes, but what I suspected I disliked. (I’m a picky eater too, why do you ask?) The yogis were supportive of my newbie status, and I was so proud to still be standing (laying down in savasana) at the end of an incredibly challenging class that I had to go back for more to see if I could do it again or (dare to dream) better. It was also a huge help in my motivation knowing that my friend who introduced me to bikram would be in class and give me hell if I wasn’t there. (Work out buddy for the win!) I ended up going three days a week for a month. By end of the month, I was stronger, more flexible and I had broken almost all of my work-out taboos. While I am by no means an expert at yoga, the adrenaline rush of being out of my depth has subsided, so I’m looking for something new. (I told you my attention span is short).
Next on my to-do list is to figure out the crazy machines in my gym with the help of a personal trainer. I’m excited to try an analytical approach to strength training. Comparing different weights and reps seems like an easy way to mark an increase in strength. I’m pumped. (Does that count as a pun? Perhaps only if you say “pumped” a la Schwarzenegger… which you all did right?)
So to sum the Find-A-Work-Out-That-Is-Right-For-You: Claire Edition.
1. Think back to past experiences you’ve enjoyed.
2. Look around and seek advice from those around you.
3. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to (safely) try something new.
And most importantly … (maybe this should have been number one… too late now.)
4. If you have trouble staying motivated, find new ways to challenge yourself.
That is literally all the wisdom I have to offer on the subject. I’ll be keeping my goals small and easy to accomplish for the foreseeable future. Perhaps someday I’ll get the self-discipline to train for a marathon (or similarly crazy-intense thing), but right now my plan is to stay one step ahead of my own mind games. Hope you folks check out some new and amazing work out routines, (and eventually invite me along… I’ll be bored again soon). Thanks!