As a nation we are not moving enough, and it shows in our expanding waistlines and increased disease. Just like diet and nutrition, I don't feel there is one exercise routine suited for everyone. I have tried many different kinds of exercise, some which I have loved and some not so much. I hope this blog inspires you to find some form of movement that brings you motivation and joy.
My parents enrolled me in youth soccer when I was 5-years-old. I enjoyed playing soccer and continued to play through high school and even into college. I was a defender, a very aggressive one at that, and thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. I didn't always love practices, especially when they involved distance running. There I was, captain of my college soccer team, running 2 miles and coming in dead last. Even though I did not enjoy it, I thought running was what you had to do to stay in shape. I forced myself on the treadmill or ran around the neighborhood. I found zero joy in running. And when I gained those Freshman 15, running did nothing to help me lose the extra pounds. I started working with a trainer at my college gym, who introduced me to many body weight exercises and weight machines. I enjoyed using medicine balls and light weights to sculpt my body. Unfortunately I still had to run to be in shape for soccer season. And, since graduating college, I have not run since!
After college I joined a gym and continued doing mostly body weight, light weight, balancing exercise routines. I would go to the gym after work and the schedule suited me. Challenges arose when I entered graduate school the following year and literally had no time to exercise with all of the course work and clinicals I had. I actually lost weight from all of the stress in those two years. After graduate school, I moved out to Boston and I wasn't working out. I was new to the area and didn't know anyone. I began to notice a complete loss of muscle, and fat slowly accumulating on my butt, thighs, and stomach. I got a Groupon for a yoga studio down the street from me and I went a dozen times. Because I was going at night I was already too tired from a long work day that I fell asleep in savasana! Yoga was not doing it for me. I needed to sweat and move and work with weights. So, I joined a gym down the other road from me. Little did I know that the sport of power lifting would be opened up to me at this gym. Total Performance Sports was a gym for anyone. It had cardio and weight machines, but was also home to strongmen, strong women, and competitive weight lifters and power lifters. I started by participating in the group classes they offered, completely falling in love with kettle bells. After a while I felt I maxed out the group workouts and hired one of their personal trainers to work with me. On day one I was barbell squatting and dead lifting. I immediately fell in love with the strength I never knew I had. I was addicted. Two years after beginning work with my personal trainer I competed in my first power lifting competition where at 114 pounds I squatted 225 lbs, dead lifted 275 lbs, and benched 95 lbs. Not once did I run during a workout, and my body was stronger and fitter than ever. After this competition there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do more. Or did I?
After setting a New England record I stepped back into the gym and just wasn't feeling it. Gym days came and went and I began to feel guilty for not going or even wanting to go to the gym. Even having my own lifting equipment at home did not motivate me. My body was saying yes, but my mind was telling me otherwise. Weight started to feel heavier and heavier each trip I made to the gym. I became unhappy and discouraged. At this point I was also suffering from a major skin rash. I went back to Groupon and found a deal for a power yoga studio in the next town over from me. I walked in with my power lifting background, knowing I was strong, and yet was struggling so badly to hold chair pose. And since class was heated to 95 degrees, I sweat my ass off. My rash did not appreciate this. I completed my 5 classes from Groupon and threw in the towel because of my skin. A few months later my ayurvedic doctor suggested I return to heated yoga to detoxify my skin. By this point in time I had determined that weight lifting was no longer for me. I needed a calming, grounding workout. Yoga was now the answer for me, where it wasn't 5 years earlier. I have been hooked ever since and my skin loves the sweat. I wake up in the morning ready, and happy to practice yoga. I have also participated in some barre classes in recent months, which I like because they tone my body without heavy lifting. Year round I like to go for 20-30 minute walks a couple times per week, or just play in the yard with my pup, just to get outside and move in the fresh air. I think this is what is missing from most people's workout regimen. Do you actually enjoy what you are doing? If not, I suggest stepping out of your box, and trying something new. Just because you have done it for the past 3 years, does not mean you will be doing it forever. Who knows what kind of exercise I will be doing in 5 years, but right now I will continue to do the ones that I enjoy. You have one life, make it a healthy one, where you enjoy the exercise you do.