Ever since I was a kid, I have made, and failed to keep, resolutions. It was never really because I thought just deciding to do something on a specific day was going to change my life–it was mostly a fun thing to dream of a different version of myself. Like, wow, I said I would lose 20 pounds and figure out liquid liner and BOOM, two fabulous montages later, I am rocking Linda Hamilton’s T:2 body with Adele’s winged eye.
However, last year I actually made two resolutions I intended to keep: work out every day and give up sodas. Barring some catastrophe, I will keep both come Sunday at midnight. That’s right. I have literally worked out every single day for a year. Now, I won’t pretend those were all amazing workouts (more on that later). But I did it. I have also stayed clear of soda of any kind.
Much as I wish I were Linda Hamilton, in reality I am a wimpy kid. Like a sand in the face, last in every event on Field Day, took bowling by correspondence for high school PE credit, wimpy kid. Granted, I spent years taking dance and yoga and those are certainly activities that require strength, stamina, and endurance. However, I was never into team sports and never really worked out in the committed sense.
When I decided to try to make working out part of my life for health and stress relief purposes, I had no idea what that would look like in reality. I won’t go into the specifics of how it all played out, but I will give you the cream of what I have learned as a wimpy kid who has worked out every day since December 31, 2016 and has not died.
It is still always slightly hard.
No lie, this was one of the biggest surprises to me. I had it in my head that when people worked out all the time, it got easier. Somehow in my crazy brain, I thought that if you work out regularly, eventually the burn during and the soreness after just weren’t a thing anymore. Yes, I realize this is a completely ridiculous idea.
Certain exercises and activities do get easier as you go along, which I now know, means you need to increase the challenge. But all those people you see running and benching and whatever other nonsense? It burns for them too. That is somewhat comforting to me because it means that even the strong have to work for it.
Most of it is in your mind.
I can’t do burpees. When I try, I hate every second of it and I am pretty sure I look like a sick orangutan. Look at that last sentence. Neither of those are physical things–they are both mental. Again, I know this is probably totally obvious to everyone but me: most of the time your mind puts more limits on you than actually physically exist. Now every trainer, coach, and fitness meme will tell you this exact thing. But for some reason I just couldn’t figure it out.
Then one day I was in the middle of doing these really hard push up things that involved pushing a weight, walking in push up position, doing a stupid push up, picking up the weight for a row, and starting over. It was murder and I was tired. I started to drop to my knees. But I stopped for a second and asked why I was stopping. Was I hurt? Was I sick? I did a mental check of my body. My body was fine. It was my mind that was quitting. So I told my mind to shut up. And for a few minutes, it did.
Diet does matter.
Much as I wish it weren’t true, it does matter what you eat, even when you work out. I will out myself that I have been on a holiday from anything close to good eating the past few weeks. And I can tell. Luckily, I have kept up my workouts, so the damage isn’t too bad, but I feel a difference in my energy and attitude. Monday I am back on the clean eating train because as much as I love cookies, I also like not feeling like a sack of cement when it comes time to do those stupid burpees.
You have to do what you can, when you can.
I mentioned that I worked out every day this year and that is true. That being said, I’m not going to pretend I am doing amazing HIIT every day. One day, when I was chaperoning our drama department at competition, I only had time to do five minutes of yoga on my app in my pajamas before I collapsed in exhaustion. Another time I just walked the Dallas airport like a crazy woman waiting for my flight to get in my workout. In both cases it would have been easier just to give myself the day off. It’s not like that 5-minutes of yoga is going to make a big difference, but it is part of that mental game. In the words of my beloved Tim Gunn, “Make it work.”
Some things will always suck.
So the good news is that I dropped three sizes and 40 pounds (give or take–extra holiday pounds are definitely a thing for me right now). I have gone from using 6 pound weights to 15 pound weights, and I have more strength and stamina. The bad news is I still suck at running, burpees, and pushups. Shamefully bad at those things. Looking back, however, a year ago I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. Now I can run a mile and a half before my lungs want to murder me. That’s progress, right?
As I mentioned, all these things are probably obvious to everyone else. Good for you. It took me just getting off my butt and giving up my excuses to figure it out for myself. For those wanting to make any change like this, I would suggest not giving yourself a limit, ie. “I want to get in shape” or “I want to lose X pounds.” Also, avoid things that tie to you to specifics like “I will go the gym everyday.” Keep it simple and attainable. Mine was “I will work out everyday.” The application was up to me and allowed me flexibility. The results were a side effect.
I am still deciding on my new resolution, but I am going to keep those two from 2017 on the list. Whatever you want for the new year, I hope you find it. And when it gets too hard, just remember that I am probably somewhere, swearing as I push through one more burpee.