I have long since battled with de-motivation when it comes to fitness. Its no secret to anyone who meets me that while I enjoy being active, I really loudly and brashly dislike having to keep to a ‘fitness schedule’. I want so badly to be one of those people talking about Leg Day, sharing the proper way to flex in a mirror or drinking everything I can out of a shaker cup. But sadly, even after two years of working in a gym I still have childlike curiosity walking up to any machine with things that I can pull, and the only ‘form’ I have is the waiver they hastily had me sign when I walked through the door.
This sums up all of my pre- and post exercise feelings. Photo: TMZ.com
Completely ignoring all of that, being in shape is still something that I passionately feel people should do. Do I think everyone must now run out and join a gym? Oh god, no. You should, if you really need help being motivated. A good place to start is where everyone around you is transitioning into being better looking. But being better looking isn’t why I think its important.
Active people are just happier. It’s really that simple. I don’t strictly mean endorphin’s, the bodies gracious numbing happiness that washes over you once you’ve got your blood moving. They’re great, and without them I would likely be severely less cardio-inclined. No; its not the endorphin’s. You benefit mentally as well as physically when you exercise. When your’e active, your brain has an outlet aided by physical exhaustion where you can just work through your day. If you find yourself being someone who wakes up and stares at the ceiling at night, try doing a light jog before bed. That half hour forces you to commit your body to doing something the mind can auto-pilot on, and that’s when you think through your day. Post jog, your body is tired and your brain is too damn tired to bother worrying about it any more.
On top of being mentally beneficial, there’s the being-in-shape upside as well on the waistline. You know, deep down, you never feel better than when you are in your ‘ideal shape’. You know that person, that guy or girl you looked like when you had mono at 18, or hit your ab and pec peak at 21- that person you’ve pictured yourself as still looking like all these years later, and are always surprised when that person doesn’t show in the changeroom mirror. When your jeans fit and don’t cut in, when your bathing suit shopping and you think ‘not bad’ instead of ‘how can I cover more..’, that’s where you want to be.
So, you have being mentally happy AND physically happy, whats the hold up? Oh snap, you actually have to put effort in. There are more painful ways of getting thin fast, like lipsuction and tongue-mesh surgery (yep, thats a thing: http://www.vice.com/read/tongue-mesh) But those are both aforementioned painful, not to mention expensive, and finally *fucking* painful. DON’T BE LAZY. And If you’re going to be lazy, do it the right way.
My fitness mantra is ‘Get Fit Enough To Be Lazy’. If you draw out the last bit as you breathe, its pretty soothing AND distracting to your other yoga compatriots. If you get in what most people would consider ‘OK’ shape, then really all you have to do is coast. You can be 50 years old, in bomb condition, and never really having to do much either than just be active when you can. People who live their teens as athletes often find this ease of transition; and their fitness routine never becomes more than playing shinny with their buddies and kicking around a soccer ball with the kids.
My parents have long been active people, and so strongly believed kids should go outside and play that my brother and I didn’t even touch a video gaming system until we were teenagers. My childhood was riddled with their encouragement in sports. I was always enrolled in at least one competitive sport, and this carried far into high-school when my mother coached the rock-climbing team my brother and I were on. As an adult, I look for any inspiration I can possibly grasp, and that’s opened a few very cool doors. I joined a roller derby team back in 2012, and anyone who thinks the game looks intense should watch the practices. I enroll in bootcamps when I can find them (as i’m motivated by being competitive), pole dancing classes (an amazing full body workout, sex not included) and paddle boarding. I’m also fortunate enough to have friends who are like-minded, and mildly competitive enough to engage me while working out. Working in a gym for years did very little for self-motivation in terms of fitness, and really only benefited me in the sense that I was more informed on when bootcamps and exercise classes were running.
So with all of this in mind, I encourage you to consider the following before writing off my advice altogether, and picking up another cookie:
1) It isn’t about living longer, its about living happier. And that means functionality. It doesn’t matter if you only plan on living to 60 if you die of a heart attack at 47. Things like falling and breaking a hip can end people at 70, so why not strengthen the bones with some load bearing exercise? Its not the difference between dying of cancer or old age, its the difference between dying at 55 painfully and dying at 85 peacefully.
2) Once you have any ‘big goals’ under wraps (losing 20 lbs, being able to touch your toes), its all smooth sailing. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you about this, I live it. Its especially easier if you realize half the things you like to do are already ‘exercise’ i.e. walking the dogs, chasing your kids, or just going for a walk around the block at night. Every city typically runs cheap rec-leagues, and we’re not talking plain soccer and baseball. Most now offer ball-hockey leagues, the aforementioned roller derby, etc.
3) Diet is important. I’m not saying restrict, refrain or boycott anything until you have consulted a nutritionist or a doctor. Don’t go on some crazy fad diet your friend is on because they ate a bad bagel and now think they’re gluten sensitive; Do stick to the obvious choices like lots of veggies and protein.
4) Don’t go on the internet if you do have big goals. Don’t read fitness blogs and take supplements pimped by a guy from Jersey Shore, go to a gym and see if they offer free consultations with trainers. Gyms aren’t as scary as people often think they are, and I have had two friends accomplish huge goals with trainers who were absolutely against them. Not everyone can afford a trainer, myself included, but I have had countless friends get direction and realistic expectations/timeline from sitting down with professionals, and at the very least they can suggest classes or bootcamps that might fit your need.
5) Be realistic. I don’t mean about weight loss, I mean about the greater picture. Don’t say you’re going to go to the gym 5 mornings a week if you won’t, because you’ll quickly become disheartened and give up. Try like, 2 times a week and throw a wild card third form in there (rec league, block walk, washing the dishes twerk). Its a commitment, but fitness isn’t marriage. Its more… That crazy acquaintance you work with and have lunch with twice a week. You like them, but you aren’t spending every waking minute with them. And get rid of the bathroom scale. Yes, for real. If you can’t have a healthy relationship with it, it’ll be your undoing. Everyone always hears “you put on muscle when you lose fat, so your weight won’t change but your size will” and not believe a damn word. “How can you get smaller without losing weight??” You’ll fervently demand at the scale, which will blankly stare back at you because not only does it get asked this a lot, but it was made in china and does not speak English. Let me drill this in: You will become thinner but you will not become lighter at first. Yes, a few weeks in, this will plateau and your muscles will overtake the fat, and your weight will start to drop. P.S. This doesn’t mean your going to look like the next Arnold, so calm your tits. You’re becoming LEAN.
Alright, that’s it. Just live longer, alright? Be able to not just play with your kids, play with your grandkids. Don’t just get into those old skinny jeans, get into NEW bomb jeans.
You can do it, because I can. The bar is set that low.