When I was working out with Leigh the other day, she made a comment about how happy she was I was working out on my own (I think she said something like “…it’s so awesome you’re doing that work on your own…”). At the time I joked about how long it took me to ‘get it’. I think I’d been working out with Leigh 1 to 2 times a week for about a year before I realised I needed to make time and workout on my own to get where I wanted. Somehow when I started, and I’d been pretty sedentary, I always told myself that “well, once a week is better than nothing”. Soon enough though, I plateaued; I wasn’t losing weight, and I wasn’t getting stronger. About this time I realized that if I wanted to reach my goals, I was going to have to work harder.
This would probably be an opportune time to explain; my goals, in a nutshell, are to lose about 50 pounds, and more, importantly, be able to do a chin up. There are lots of other things that I’m excited to do along the way, like heavy squats with perfect form, and perfect push-ups, but I think the chin up was on my list when I first met Leigh. I also want to say that the 50 pounds is a flexible number, because, as a person who is 5’10” and has always had a bigger build, I have never entertained a ‘goal weight’ under 150 pounds. I have more in common physically with the Adele’s and Jane Russell’s of the world than the Kate Moss’. I weighed 147lbs once, in my mid-twenties, and looked the most like I ever felt I was supposed to look (skinny), but I was pretty obsessive and a bit unhealthy at the time. I have also been a very happy and confident 170lbs. On the other end, I’ve been a not so happy or confident 215. Given the preceding points, I think around 160 would be a good place. I say ‘think’ because if I get to a weight where I am happy, feel strong and sexy (rahr!), I will not care what the number on the scale is.
“To try and fail is at least to learn; to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.” – Chester Barnard
In my journey so far I have made some amazing gains with Leigh; I’ve gotten way stronger, gained mobility in problem areas like my neck/shoulders, I don’t put my chest to my knees when I squat anymore, I discovered I’m awesome at kettlebell swings, and I feel more muscular and energized (go me!). I’m happy and proud of those accomplishments. I’m also excited to do more. I want to do more. Not because I think I should, or because I’m ashamed of where I am now, but because I figured out I am just as good, and just as capable, as the people I admire or am a bit (or very) jealous of. This realisation goes hand in hand in hand with another, perhaps more, important realisation: GETTING WHERE YOU WANT IS BOTH AS SIMPLE AND AS HARD AS PUTTING IN THE WORK. That’s it. No magic, no tricks, just show up again and again and do the work.
I know now, that if I want to reach my goals, it’s going to take 3-4 days of strength training a week, in addition to dedicated cardio. I have to work hard during my workouts, be uncomfortable, and push to failure on some things. I also know that I have to really pay attention to my food; keep it clean, green and lean! I’m a sucker for beer and pizza, but, sadly, consuming either frequently will not help me reach my goals. I keep it to one cheat meal a week, and have given up alcohol until I lose some more weight. These are not hardships, but habits (nod to Leigh’s March 17th blog). I mess up, I miss workouts, but I keep trying. I lose weight, I gain weight, I have awesome workouts and I have terrible workouts where I want to cry (and sometimes do), but I keep learning and I keep trying. I know that part of putting in the work means not letting mistakes or setbacks totally derail me, or make me think I can’t achieve my realistic and positive goals. These positive changes are making me feel better. The more I do, the more motivated I am, and the more I feel like I can do.
At first I was scared to write this. I thought “no one wants to hear what I have to say”, and “I’m not even close to my goal yet”. Well, during that recent session Leigh also encouraged me to do her push-up challenge. I remember saying something like “but I suck at push-ups” (I do them against a bar or a bench). Leigh responded by encouraging me and saying “exactly! You’ll see the most gains!” I thought back on that conversation today, and it made me realise people might like to hear from me precisely because I am just starting out. There are probably a lot of people who have made some great changes in their lives, but get a little scared and discouraged looking down that long (sometimes uphill) road they want to travel. So, that being said, I’m going to do the push up challenge. Whether I win or not, I’m going to be proud. For all the people out there that feel like they have so far to go, whether its losing 50 pounds or doing 50 push-ups, never be embarrassed by where you are now; be proud of every effort you make. I’ll be doing it too; every time I use a little less counter weight on the assisted chin-up, every time I squat a little heavier and a little lower, and especially every time I replace ‘I can’t do that’ with ‘I think I can do that’.