Hard Work

Meet my new best friend. The treadmill.

Yes, February has been my first month back to total fitness commitment. More protein. More cardio. More weights. Less wine. Well, maybe not less wine. And you know what?

It’s. Hard. Work.

That’s the thing about fitness. It’s hard work. And there are lots of times – like this morning – when I really couldn’t face the thought of the gym. But I packed up my bag and went anyway. I figure, to get the results I want, I don’t need to be “in the mood” to exercise. I need to just do it. Hasn’t that been said before?

However, I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about fitness out there. Having been in and out of the industry for over twenty years, I’ve seen and heard a lot of them. There is probably a whole series of posts I could do about them. Maybe I should.

But the biggest one that gets my goat is how quickly we expect results. I am at fault for this too. I seem to think that because I have been in great shape before, it shouldn’t be so hard – and it certainly shouldn’t take so long – to get back into great shape. I mean, I’ve been back at this hard-core stuff for a WHOLE MONTH. Surely I should be looking like a fitness model by now.

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Um, reality check Joanne.

The reality is I have had four years off from intense training. The reality is that I am 44 years old. The reality is that I have a life outside of fitness and I can’t spend hours at a gym, in pursuit of rapid changes. The reality is that I have switched gyms, so am currently without my trainer.

But in a way, it’s been good. I have had to dig deep and motivate myself. Even when I don’t see results. Even when I am sore and stiff and achy and tired and would rather be anywhere than on that blooming treadmill or squat rack.

So what have I been doing? I have gone back to what has worked for me in the past.

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Food-wise, there’s been a lot of chicken and vegetables. Scrambled egg whites….with more vegetables. Whey Protein shakes. Nuts. Veggies and hummus. Salads. Exciting stuff. But there is still a cheat meal once a week. And if I am out at a restaurant, I try to choose wisely, but still enjoy myself.

The thing is, I’ve had a weird relationship with food for most of my life. Training in dance back in the 80’s, there was an extreme focus on being ultra-thin. I don’t know a single dancer from my era that has a healthy relationship with food. And for those of us with curvier frames, we thought the answer was to eat even less, and practice more. I knew lots of people in the fitness world like this too. So I am trying to be mindful of what I eat, but not obsessive. That is a road I do not want to go down again.

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For my workouts, I have also gone back to what has worked for me in the past – classic strength training and running. By classic, I mean more of a bodybuilding style. This type of training seems to be looked down upon in the fitness world these days. People say that it’s “not functional”, so it serves no purpose. Well, this style has always given me great results with my strength and aesthetics, popular or not. And funnily enough, it correlated very well to a lot of my “functional” needs in real life.

As for running, I would like to be able to run 8-10K comfortably. My motivation is thinking of summer runs past the vineyards. Niagara is such a beautiful place to run, really.

So, I am at the gym for 90 minutes a day, six days a week. Some days it really sucks. Some days it’s not so bad. And within the last few days, I think I have seen a small pop in my shoulders and biceps. Yesterday I even had a touch of “runner’s high”, something I haven’t had in years.

And that is what motivates me. I just have to keep showing up, whether I’m in the mood or not, and see what happens. I’m nowhere near where I would like to be, but one workout at a time, I will get there.