I was recently approached by a company to write about what inspires and fuels my workouts, and to give insight into my fitness routine. At the same time they contacted me, I found out about a contest that SportChek was having. They wanted you to send in your best “swealfie” and tell them why you sweat. These two factors really got me thinking about the real reasons I have become as fitness-focused as I am.
I never used to be this way. I loathed athletics. I dropped gym class as soon as I could and I didn’t get too involved in sports, though that’s largely because the rules just never made sense to me. Plus, why would I want to follow a play? It’s much easier to just run into someone and grab the ball. This past year and a half have been a game changer though. At first, it all boiled down to weight loss. I just wanted to be the size that I used to be, simple as that. Only, not so simple. It’s never that easy. The weight doesn’t always come off as fast as you want, or in the places that you want. Or the changes you’ve made just don’t really make a difference. This journey has changed my life. It’s become so much more than just being a smaller size; it’s become about being healthy.
There have been times that the weight has come off quickly and times that it came back just as fast. Times that I’ve stopped caring and times that I’ve cared too much. It’s all part of the journey to having a better, healthier, life and learning what works for me.
So what keeps me going? What inspires me? What fuels me? Why do I sweat? Well, let’s dig into this.
Ian’s alarm goes off about 30 seconds before mine at 5:00 am, and the second I hear it I make myself sit up. I don’t think twice about it anymore. I can’t think twice about it. The moment that you do, you can easily talk yourself out of it. You’ll go tomorrow, you’ll walk extra today, there are so many excuses. Not reasons, excuses. I’ve stopped allowing excuses, you can’t accomplish anything that way. I get out of bed and get ready to go to the gym. I have my workout bottoms in one pile, tops in another, and sports bras in the third. I grab the first item in each pile, which leaves little room for thought or indecisiveness of what to wear. I keep it easy peasy to aid in forming an early morning habit. After regular morning activities (tooth brushing, deodorant etc.) it’s time to go. I’ve had a glass of water to quench the dehydrated feeling that formed overnight and have filled my water bottle. This is where I admit that I don’t eat before working out. I don’t like too. I prefer to be on an empty stomach with just water. Some research says that is bad, some says that it is better. I know that for myself, I feel better when I haven’t eaten before doing physical activities.
5:30 am is when my gym routine starts, right when it opens for the day. I used to just do cardio, with some weight machines thrown randomly in there. When I first began it was 45 minutes on the elliptical. Ugh, how tedious and boring. I started to introduce more cardio through the bike, treadmill and Stairmaster. I’d change resistance, incline and time on each machine. One thing never changed though, tedious and boring. After 1.5 years, I’m finally at a point where my routine is keeping my interest. I do Monday-Thursday I am doing 15 minutes on the treadmill, with minute-long speed intervals. No incline, no resistance, but it’s making a difference. My stamina is improving and it’s not as tedious. I’m also able to watch Good Morning America at this time since each treadmill has its own TV, and thankfully I get it right at a time when there are few commercials and interesting stories.
Next up is the weight machines for 30 minutes. Monday and Wednesday are for the upper body, Tuesday and Thursday are for the lower body. There are a variety of machines that I use, and I can feel myself getting stronger. I’m pushing myself, adding more weight, constantly challenging myself. It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment when you can add an extra five pounds, or struggle just a little bit less.
I don’t always go to the gym on Friday anymore. Four days a week is a good amount. If I do go on Friday, it’s a mixture of cardio, like I used to do. My plan (once I can convince my husband to come to the gym with me and show me some stuff) is to start on the free weights. I feel lost with those. I know that will help keep my interest at the gym, as well as benefit me psychically. That’s a goal for me to work towards and will help me mix things up.
Since only the treadmill has personal TV’s, I don’t generally watch the other TV’s from the cardio machines, and certainly can’t from the weight machines. This is when music becomes so important. I need it to keep going, to keep me motivated, and to keep me pushing. I have an old iPod that I use, and it’s got all of my music on it. I used to have a playlist, mostly consisting of hip-hop, oldies, and pop, but I recently just put it to shuffle. Doing this brings up songs that I had forgotten about, or just haven’t heard in a really long time. There is a wide variety, and that helps keep things interesting. I never know what style of song is going to come on, and I often get lost in the music. Here are a few of the songs that always keep me motivated:
“Eye of the Tiger”–Survivor
“Uptown Funk”–Mark Ronson
I could list many, many more. I just won’t. Anything with a good beat always inspires me to keep going. And how could a song called “Push It” not make you push it just a little bit more?
For some added exercise I have even taken to going for walks during lunch time! This wakes me up for the afternoon, gives me some added activity, and gets me away from sitting at a desk all day.
I’m lucky in the fact that I don’t get bored of the gym. It may feel boring at times, but I don’t get bored of going. It was great running outside while I was training for my 5K, but I need to do more than just run. Sometimes I even throw in an extra work out on weekends. I might use the treadmill in our building, run outside or I might do something that is a little bit more fun.
And what would that be?
Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies. Yes, that is my go-to work out for at home. I have some other fitness accessories at home like a medicine ball, jump rope, kettlebell, hand weights etc, but nothing will ever beat Richard. He’s motivating, inspiring, and knows how to have fun. I have a couple of the videos memorized, but adding ankle weights make a difference, it makes it more difficult and adds resistance to the steps.
This is the picture that I used for my “swealfie.” I just finished up my regular routine at the gym, it was about 6:30 in the morning when I took this. I was feeling great even though I was tired, breathless and sweaty. My explanation that I gave to SportChek for why I sweat:
“Why do I sweat? I sweat for a better, longer, life. I sweat for change, challenge and the feel of accomplishment. I sweat for goals, happiness and to inspire others. I sweat for me.”
When I first started, it would have been one, simple response. I sweat to lose weight. It’s become so much more than that though.
Currently, my future inspired me, which I will talk more about when I talk about what fuels me. I have other inspiration as well though. Like cute and fun workout clothing. With the exception of about 3 pieces, my entire fitness wardrobe is from Fabletics. I have fun colours, prints, and they all fit great. Knowing that I have comfortable clothing to wear while sweating, makes way more appealing to do so. Yes, that may be a shallow inspiration, but that’s completely acceptable at times.
My FitBit also inspires me. I got one in December and it has made a huge difference in my day-to-day life. I choose more active options now. I choose the stairs instead of the elevator just to get my steps in. I choose walking to the grocery store when I just need a couple of things, rather than the easier choice of driving. I walk WAY more now than I ever did, just to see that number go up.
What fuels me?
Now you know what my daily exercise routine is, particularly my morning. What happens after my morning work out though? By 6:30 am I am home, sweaty, ready to shower and get ready for my day at work. I’ve really been looking forward to breakfast this past month. I always make sure I eat something. I can’t eat cereal (because I instantly get nasty stomach pains) so I get to be a bit more creative. I used to have toast, or egg on an English muffin, Eggo’s, maybe just some fruit, or even a few leftovers. I have found my sweet spot though. I have half a grapefruit, eggs with coconut oil, broccoli and mushrooms and chocolate milk. What a perfect breakfast. It’s a great balance, keeps me full throughout the morning, and really re-energizes me. After being awake so early, and needing to be alert for work, this is the perfect breakfast. I was happy to hear that they are finally saying that chocolate milk is a great post-workout beverage. I gag if I try to drink white milk, so this is a great excuse to have something that feels like a treat.
A lot of people are fueled by supplements or protein shakes. Not me. I’m fueled by my desire to reach goals. I want to live a long and healthy life. I don’t want to be sick, or struggle when I’m older. I want to have kids and not have issues through pregnancy. I want to keep up with the kids when they are energetic. I’m fueled by my desire to be a better me.
Water also fuels me. I used to only drink a small amount of water a day, but that has greatly increased. I’m talking a minimum of 200 ounces a day. Some people say that’s too much, but it’s the perfect amount for me. It’s what my body needs. I also use drinking water as a mechanism to not snack as much. It works well, especially when I use my fruit infuser and have lemons and limes in the water.
Motivation fuels me. There are two whiteboards at my gym that regularly have new inspirational quotes on them. This was put up recently, and I knew I needed to take a picture to remember this. We all have limitations, that’s obvious. Your mind is definitely your biggest one though. Sometimes when I run, all I want to do is stop. I’m out of breath, my legs may feel tired, or I might just not be “feeling it” at the time. My body is capable of finishing though. I’ve done it many times before, which means I can do it again. I may want to quit after 8 reps rather than doing the full 10, but I did 10 the day before. My body is capable but my mind wants to stop. Motivation is what makes me push. Motivation to reach my goals, to succeed, and to prove to myself that I can do it.
Life Long Changes
Yes, I still want the weight loss. Yes, that is ultimately still my goal, but this has become a lifestyle for me. A variance of this routine will likely end up being a part of my life forever. Slowly, I keep adding more healthy lifestyle changes. Upping vegetable intake. Trying to cook fresh rather than from a box. Drinking green smoothies. These are all long-term changes that I want to keep up and make into a normal part of my day. I mentioned before that I avoided anything athletic at all costs. Now, I go to the gym almost every day, I run in 5K’s, and I’m going to begin doing virtual races so that I’m running at least one 5K a month.
Who is this person?
This is the new me. This is the healthy me that’s going to live longer than the old me. This is happier me that is slowly learning what my body needs in order to keep going. This is the me that’s going to keep pushing myself, and I will reach my goal. This is the me who won’t stop even once my goal has come and gone, because this is now my life. I might not always go to the gym, I sure won’t always make the healthiest food choices, but that is a part of life.
What works for me might not work for everyone, and what works for others might not work for me. This is a look into my fitness life though, and what keeps me going.