My main goal in life is to eat whatever I want. I know that this is a fairly lofty goal, especially as I approach 30 and my metabolism slows down but I do not want to be a 30 something living off of grilled chicken and steamed veggies. Give me chips and dips and pasta and meat and salty goodness and maybe some ice cream after. No diets please. I grew up on diets. So many diets. My mom was always trying the newest diet. No sugar. No carbs. Eat Right For Your Type. South Beach. Atkins. I’ve lived the diet life and I hate it.
To this day if someone tries to take food away from me I get scary. Like Gollum “my precious” scary. I feel like someone is taking away my child. Only my child is the last slice of pizza. Would I be skinnier if I ate less pizza or pasta, probably. But would I be happier? No. Food is life! But working out is also good for you.
Thank you Shaun of Shaun Turley Photography for the photos and for making me look like a fancy workout person. :)
I didn’t start working out until I was 23 years old. Which according to Dan means that my body initially struggled with a workout learning curve because I didn’t grow up playing sports. In fact I quit just about every sport or physical activity I encountered, especially once it became competitive. I was a ballerina until I realized I didn’t like the rules. I took tennis lessons until I had to work too hard. I swam until I realized you can’t meander around the pool, you have to compete. I played basketball until I was the last person to finish their suicides. And on and on. If I were going to do physical activity it had to be fun, not competitive, and I couldn’t look like a loser. The silly thing is that my parents let me quit. They couldn’t deal with my whining.
So except for one embarrassing spring when I took track in high school I pretty much avoided sports. What I did do was try to stay in PE for as long as possible. Physical activity worked into my schedule five days a week? Where I could socialize and have fun and be middle of the pack and no one would notice!? Yessss. And I could flirt with boys! I looked like a complete dork in my too big shoes, oversized t-shirt, and shorts. But oh well, PE is the place for adolescent mortification. I stayed in PE until my senior year in high school where I took poetry and art as electives and hung out with my boyfriend and friends after school gorging on bagel bites and pop tarts and soda. Forget freshman fifteen, I gained fifteen before I even got to college.
In college the pop tart and bagel bite weight went away really quickly but I still didn’t work out. I think it was my jobs that saved me because I was on my feet all the time. As a server for a catering company, a barista, a server at a wine tasting room. Plus walking to class. And what makes me mad is that when I got to UW I had access to a free workout facility that is beautiful. I probably went three times. What I would give for a free gym membership now.
After college I started working at Microsoft, which meant long hours sitting on my ass. A few months into it I got really sick with a sinus infection and bronchitis. My doctor told me it was time to start working out to boost my immune system and get stronger as a whole. So my “workout” became walking up ~30 flights of stairs multiple times a day. I also got a hula hoop because FUN! Notice that even when my doctor told me that if I didn’t start working out I’d keep getting sick I still didn’t go right out to get myself a gym membership. I wasn’t ready for a more traditional workout regimen. To be honest I never thought I’d workout in a gym regularly.
And then I met Dan. Dan is a gym rat. He loves working out more than almost everything (food is his #1 love too so that’s how this whole relationship thing works). The gym is his sanctuary but he’s just one of those people with a ton of energy that needs to do something physical everyday. If he doesn’t he gets stir crazy and blah. Basically he’s a labrador retriever. I’m the one with non-stop mental energy, he’s the one with non-stop physical energy.
So when we started dating I slowly but surely got sucked into his lifestyle. We wanted to be around each other all the time and he swore by the mood regulating power of sweating your ass off. That’s the thing that probably led to us working out the most, Dan wasn’t like, “hey you’re not healthy, you gotta do XYZ”, he was like, “this will make you feel good and we can do it together!” Like drugs. Working out is Dan’s drug and he wanted to share that with me. So I started trying some of the things he was doing, and even got him to try some stuff that seemed like fun to me. Everything from P90x to Insanity to pilates to yoga to zumba. Eventually I made my way to the workout room and started to run and lift.
But here’s the thing. I am not Dan. Working out is still not pleasurable for me even though I do it 4-6 times a week. It is hard and I’m still kind of a slug. But he motivated/peer-pressured me enough that something happened that I had never experienced before. I accidentally had some gains. Mental and physical. I basically had spent my whole life assuming that my body was my body and my chemistry was my chemistry and that my energy level was not something I could really control. Wrong! Slowly but surely I felt stronger. My arms got tighter. My butt got higher. My legs more taut. And most importantly, my belly got flatter (way less bloating! yay!). The physical changes have been incremental and hard but how can I go back to the body I had before? Onward and upward is the only way to go.
The bigger and obviously harder to explain changes though have been with my mood. Working out is an amazing mood and energy regulator. It does not always put me in a great mood, and sometimes I get off the elliptical after an hour and just lay on the floor in a coma, but a lot of the time if I head down to the gym in a bad mood or with low energy and I force myself to power through my workout, I come out the other side feeling much better. Dan usually comes out of a workout super chilled out and relaxed. I come out of a workout ready to party.
I wanted to share my workout story because as someone who got started later, it’s not an easy process, but it is doable. And as someone who spent most of her life thinking she could never motivate herself to workout, I’m now working out almost daily. Anything is possible guys! Working out is a fairly personal process, but I’d love to hear your story or answer questions about my own workout process. So drop a comment below or email me if you prefer a more private conversation. We all have insecurities, and working out does not come naturally to many of us, but by sharing our stories we can do our part in pointing each other in helpful directions.