I started working out when I was a kid. I didn’t call it “working out” then and there was no NFL Play 60 initiative to encourage physical activity for children. (Side bar: this program seems to be the only thing the NFL “gives back”. How can I start a nonprofit like the NFL?) There was a presidential fitness challenge in gym glass and I earned a gold star every year. I climbed trees as well as played 500 and flag football at recess. I made up my own adventure races before they were cool.
The first few years of college I didn’t have exercise built into my schedule because for the first time ever I didn’t play an organized sport. Scratch that, I played rugby, but sometimes we had practice at the bar. We had lots of songs to learn. I gained weight and felt sluggish. I remember the day that I found an item I really wanted at the college bookstore. I think it was a college logo vest (don’t judge it was super cool in the 90s). I made a deal with myself that if I worked out two days a week I could buy it at the end of the semester. To earn my vest I went rollerblading when it was nice outside. I played racquetball with a friend (who was also a junior Iowa champion). I even beat her once. I told everyone who would listen at dinner that evening that I won at racquetball. I started doing exercises to support my knees so I didn’t have to wear knee braces anymore. I threw away my inhaler because getting refills was complicated without a car in small town USA (probably not the best decision, but it worked for me).
When I graduated from college I was a stronger and more fit adult. I started working at the local YWCA and I got a serious discount on a membership. I had no excuses not to work out and no knowledge of working out in a gym setting. I was afraid to try group classes and mainly used weight machines….but only the ones that looked easy.
I decided to apply to the fire department and I really stepped up my game. I was so skinny and what I thought had been fit previously was not going to get me where I wanted to be. I started taking supplements and lifting weights. I started going to the gym every day and alternating leg and arm days. On arm days I did all the arm machines and on leg day all the leg machines. Ouch. (Again don’t follow my lead here). I started going to classes to challenge myself with other people. I started running. I ran 5 half marathons one summer. Ouch.
I know a bit more about fitness and health now. I find workouts online so I don’t get bored. I go to yoga and spin classes. When I’m busy I do high intensity interval training and I still run (only one half marathon per year). I try to limit myself to one dessert a day (my sister taught me that one – it’s a challenge for me). Instead of my CD player on a waist belt I rely on my phone (ironically I put it in a waist belt too) to provide motivational music.
After having a baby roughly 2 months ago I’m back in all my regular clothes. I weigh the same as I did before I got pregnant. I don’t say this to brag, but just to put out there that it is possible. I don’t have any secret. I work hard. I gained over 45 pounds with him, but I did go to the gym about 5 days a week until the very last week I was pregnant. I walked at least 10,000 steps and did bodyweight squats and lunges. I found pregnancy workouts online.
But still the hardest thing for me to do is show up. There are days when I don’t get to the gym until 7pm or later. I make plans to go running and instead it rains. Yesterday I couldn’t find my phone and therefore music AND forgot my socks. I did my workout anyway. That’s what it takes. Just show up and do it!