“Don’t train to be skinny, train to be a badass” – Demi Lavato
Every morning, when my alarm goes off, I wake up to this internal struggle. This angel versus devil routine in my head about staying exactly where I am or getting up and doing physical activity. It’s typically early… 6AM. The room is dark, my pillow is plush, and there are blankets for days. Warm, inviting, sweet blankets that love me just the way I am and encourage me to skip the gym all-together. Stay herrrreeee they say, stay with us and your boo and your puppy. Oh, you’re blankets don’t talk to you? COOL whatevs. Anyway it’s hard as hell for me to get moving early not to mention everything is a little achy… hello 40. Over the years I have tried a lot of methods to improve my relationship with exercise and increase the frequency in which I do it. Like a friend who isn’t a GREAT friend but also isn’t the WORST friend, sometimes our vibe is just…off.
My first exposure to focused exercise was Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies. It was on VHS and it was all the rage. As a chubby kid I popped the tape in and bounced around with a stream of colorful leotards and leg warmers dancing in front of me across the screen. I was stylin’ and profin’ with sky high bangs but not so much into the squats and lunges and sweat. I remember that I didn’t want to do it, but that I knew I should want to do it. Thus began my love hate relationship with exercise. Angel and devil. To gym, or not to gym. Growing up I also took ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics. All of which I really did enjoy. However, I didn’t really associate exercise with these activities just more like fun things I got to do. Hobbies…instead of tasks completed to get fit.
As I got older we moved and there were no dance studios where I was. ENTER: team sports. I signed up for soccer and I was the only girl on the team. I spent many hours of my life, that I’ll never get back, running up and down that damn field chasing a ball someone else was kicking. Back and forth…back and forth. This was not my idea of fun and I was sure that shit was for the birds. My favorite part of soccer was the orange slices and Gatorade we got during halftime and when the game was over. If I could make it to halftime, I could get the slices, and at least some of that madness would be worth it.
When I was 22 years old I started running. I still felt I had to work out because I was still overweight but I still hadn’t found an exercise that didn’t feel like a no-paying job. At this point I had some whimsical fantasies of becoming a runner. About being long and lean like Nike commercials. A graceful gliding gazelle tapping the pavement at equal rhythmic increments as I strode down the road. Unfortunately graceful gazelle like running, for me, was not in the cards. The pounding impact felt like death and I actually ran a half marathon once and wound up with a pinched sciatic nerve. SO… reality check … running was not my gift. Another one bites the dust.
Later, I discovered spin class. If I couldn’t be a running gazelle I would be a swift cycle queen. I showed up at LA Fitness in fabulous gear sporting my cute camo printed quick dry pants, with a matching black tank, and strappy sports bra planting myself promptly in the back row. There were no colorful tights and leotards dancing like Richard Simmons, but there was a sweaty guy leading the class so same diff. Eyes forward, ready to spin. Bring it on cool, young, muscly bike man. Now when baby’s got back, and this baby do have back, tiny bike seats can be a problem. But with the direction over the loudspeaker and pumping club tunes I was in the zone. The changes between high and low inclines seemed to corral my mind from running reckless and at the end of the 45 minutes I felt energized without feeling like my body had been run over by a truck. It was actually FUN. I had discovered an exercise, that I enjoyed. Amen Hallelujah. #rideordie This was a success.
Pilates … another historically fancy skinny girl thing I’ve always wanted to try but was so intimidated by that I waited until I was 37 to try my first class. After being diagnosed with a back injury (I have stress fractures in my L5 which is the 2nd to last disc in my lower back) and being told they would never heal, getting to my goal weight was essential and I had to focus on cardio and work to strengthen my core. Which brought me to my introduction to Reformer Pilates with Tanya Stephenson at Stretch ATL. Tanya was warm, welcoming, and friendly. She was a chiropractor so she understood muscles, bones, and movement on a deeper level than previous instructors. She understood my back injury and what exercises I would benefit from the most while staying focus on dropping weight. Her studio was also filled with other warm welcoming women. Women of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels so I didn’t feel out of place because I weighed more than the taunting images on a magazine. Pilates has made my body longer and leaner and I’ve gotten comments regularly on my physic since starting. I feel taller too, which is nutty, but I’ll take it. I feel like I actually have collar bones now and I’m rocking my Michelle Obama arms. OK well…my version of Michelle Obama arms. Thank you #pilatesismyhappyhour. All in all, this shit changed my life, and I would have never known if I hadn’t gotten out there and given it a try. I would have never have found Pilates if I had quit Richard Simmons, kicked soccer to the curb, or totally gave up after not becoming the next great American runner.
Although my fitness journey is far from over I am learning that this is not just about finding an activity but about building a lifestyle to commit to for the rest of my life. I wish I could tell you that it’s easy or that I’ve discovered the secret recipe for all fitness success but as we all know there isn’t one. You have to find what works for you.
I encourage you to explore. I invite you, for even just one day, to let go of your fear or expectations and just try. Maybe you want a screaming coach who makes you flip tires and swing sledge hammers, maybe you working out solo or maybe you’re like me and you have to sign up for classes that cost money in order to make sure you actually show up and you don’t want to wear shoes (that’s one of the many reasons I’m obsessed with yoga, Pilates and barre). Don’t be afraid to try something new or check out a class that you’ve always been curious about. Don’t stop when you feel like you failed. If you can find a way to bring a little bit of fun to your work out through music or people or being barefoot it makes doing the work a little less dreadful. #burnbabyburn . No matter what you choose, I got you boo. Let’s do this together.
Love, Lashes and Lipstick