You may remember a couple of weeks ago I said I was starting to train with the lovely Tom Dyer of Ultimate City Fitness, to find out how much butt it is possible for one fat girl to kick. I’m nothing if not open to new experiences, even if they do seem utterly terrifying.
After all, I have this weight loss business down now – see you bye, 140lbs – but one thing I didn’t quite have nailed was the fitness side of things. I may be one queen of confidence, with a big chicken butt and proud – but show me a race track and I’m more likely to plant a picnic in the middle than run around it. It’s just not my style.
Or maybe it is.
I’ve had three sessions over the last two weeks, and it’s been enlightening, to say the very least. Enlightening, and intense.
It’s funny, because when you’re out of a good routine, it seems near enough impossible to get back into it. Bad habits really are a bitch to break, and I’ve developed a few since I moved here – so when I started trying to get back in the game, every tiny thing seemed like a slog. But, as I said last week, getting pedalling is the hard part.
Getting pedalling, that is, and cutting down my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day.
You all know my relationship with caffeine. This is not something I do lightly. But I’m nothing if not good at following instructions – so I did it. And – shock – I am still alive. Forget all the other stuff: this is big achievement número uno this week.
Achievement no. 2, though, goes back to my knees. I’ve always struggled with them – as a kid, when they’d give me endless issues in P.E. classes, and as an adult, after three surgeries and totally unable to walk, they’ve always been a problem. Screw Achilles and his poxy heel – I’ve got wobbly knees that are way worse. And as a result, I’ve always been a little too nervous to put more than a little strain on them – and so, I haven’t.
After the surgery in December, though, I’ve been edging towards using them more and more. I’ve been growing increasingly confident, but only ever to a point – because I don’t want to do myself any damage and end up back where I started. That’s a huge fear, for me.
As a result, I’ve never really tried to squat, or lunge, because I’ve always experienced pain when I do it – ’til now. Turns out, I’ve been doing it wrong. It’s all in the technique – focusing far more on your core and glutes to take the weight off your knees, and making sure you’re going down, instead of forwards, with each movement. Two weeks of doing that right, and I’m finally getting it. I have normal, functional knees, that are getting stronger with every single workout.
This is amazing.
I’ve also learned to use this damn thing (and no, I did not expect to have my photo taken with my butt in the air like so):
That’s called a prowler, and it’s every bit as evil and sinister as it sounds.
Anywho, I’m learning things, not just about fitness, but about myself. It’s a lot easier to push yourself when there’s someone telling you exactly what you should be doing, and telling you that you can, in fact, do one more (although I have my questions over Mr. Dyer’s counting skills, which always seem to involve a couple more than I’m expecting, I’m sure) – but that’s had me thinking: if you’re prepared to push yourself harder when someone’s watching, why is it so much harder to motivate yourself when you’re going solo?
I mean – you know you can do it. You know you’re capable of doing awesome things – but when you’re on your own, it’s easier to justify not giving it 100%. It’s easier to talk yourself out of doing one more set, or reading one more chapter, or writing one more page, or whatever it is you’ve got to do – because nobody knows about it, bar you.
So, when you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something like that, the question to ask yourself is: who are you doing it for?
I’ll give you a clue.
The correct answer is you.
Once it becomes about improving yourself, and your own happiness and wellbeing, it becomes – oh, so ironically – easier to motivate yourself to work on it as though the whole world were watching you. And that’s one of the things I’m gradually figuring out.
Because I could go in there, thinking ‘urgh, I’m about to get tortured and it’s going to be horrible.’ That’s a little melodramatic I know, but when I’m in a negative mindset, melodramatic is my middle name – so you get my drift. This would result in a horrible time had by all.
The alternative, however, is this: ‘I am about to do even more things I didn’t think I could do, and prove to myself that I’m better than I thought I was, with the help of this awesome trainer man.’
See the difference? Suddenly, it’s for me. And when that green light goes on, those squats, those deadlifts, those kettlebells and that god damned prowler thingy, all start to seem… Kinda fun.
And I think it’s important to apply this kind of mindset all over the place. Not just to fitness, but to everything. Work, hobbies, passions, whatever – if you go in there, fully present and doing it, not because you have to, but for your own development as a person, then you’re golden. You’re living to that 100% you ought to be aiming for – not just whiling away the hours between waking up, and going to bed.
And when you’re living that intensely, you’ll find it easier to find the joy in things that would otherwise seem like problems to be overcome. So you’re up against a challenging project? That’s one hell of a thing to tick off your to-do list. At a career crossroads? That’s a time where you’re about to learn a lot more about yourself and what you can achieve. Broken relationship? An experience, and one you’ll look back on, from new relationships or the freedom of being single, as something you got a lot out of – even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
And in my case: a sumo deadlift?
Got it. Boom.