Today was my fitness tipping point.
That moment when you make the conscious decision that getting fit again is either:
1. Too hard
2. You determinedly get out of bed at 5.30am in the middle of winter, put on 3 layers + scarf + gloves + beanie and get exercising. (I know this is a little excessive for the Gold Coast but it has been freezing!).
This is the decision I faced this morning and in order to put it in perspective I feel you need some of the back story…
Over the past 5 weeks I have put my body on the line for you. Yes YOU! My current and future clients… As a practitioner I like to know what I am recommending to my clients first hand and although I have never had a major issue with my weight, I know that I am certainly not sporting the body of an elite athlete anymore. So, I decided to give a well researched weight loss program a go, to see if it is something I would recommend to my clients. I also managed to rope my husband into doing it with me for moral support, thank goodness…. He’s such a good bloke!
Next month it will be 10 years since the peak of my fitness – the Athens Olympic Games – and 7 years since I retired from professional competition. During the last 7 years I have been through a roller coaster of different attitudes towards my fitness:
Lazy – I’m so over working out 6+ hours a day for the past couple of decades.
Completely obsessive compulsive about getting fit again– must go to gym every day.
Relaxed – a few fast walks a week and a bit of yoga here and there.
4 weeks into the weight loss program I was 6kg lighter, weighing less than I ever have as an adult, and decided it was time to really get fit again. Super motivated again, woohoo! Here is how my week of working out looked:
Day 1: 40 min walk as fast as I could.
Run up the stairs at Miami hill x 1 (legs on fire at the top, laughing at myself in disbelief at how hard it was).
Abdominal work for the first time in forever. I just barely managed 2 sets of 20 crunches and a 30 second plank and had the shakes…
Day 2: 40 min walk as fast as I could.
Run slowly up the stairs x 3 (jelly legs + still on fire).
2 sets of 25 crunches + a 45 second plank.
Day 3-4: Same as the other days with a little extra tacked on each time.
Day 5: 60 minute walk
Stairs x 4
Hill run x 1
More abdominals than the previous days.
Day 6: Same as Day 5 with walking/stairs/hill.
My first yoga class in a year at Happy Fit under the instruction of my beautiful friend and amazing instructor Alicia. Let’s just say there was a lot of uncontrollable muscle shaking going on and absolutely no flexibility or ‘flow’….
Day 7: Being the all or nothing person I am, I agreed join one of my best friends (and longtime fitness inspiration) to try a TRX Yoga class at Func Fitness. Jaime and Brendon were so welcoming and made me feel right at home. If I were a bit fitter and stronger I would have been in my element, but I was so out of my depth and sore/fatigued from yoga the night before that I felt a bit embarrassed/self concious about the fact that I spent an awful lot of time wobbling around and resting, too weak to hold poses (except child’s pose and savasana – I was awesome at those!). I will be back for more when I get some strength and balance as I know I will love it!
Day 8: Owwww…… Need to push through it….
Walk the first 4km.
Run the second 4km – ‘run’ may be an overstatement here… I was passed by many actual runners!
Stairs x 2
Hill x 1 (as an extension of the ‘run’, I barely made it to the top as I thought my legs were going to burst!).
Day 9: Can hardly get out of bed because I am so sore…. Rest day.
Day 10: 5.30am alarm… snooze…
NOW PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE THIS – RIGHT HERE – IS THE TIPPING POINT…
‘It felt so nice to sleep a little longer yesterday’…
‘It’s so cozy and warm in bed’…
‘I’m feeling really tired’…
‘I don’t want to get rundown, maybe I should rest again today’…
‘I have a full day of clients today, I don’t want to be exhausted’…
‘I don’t want to waste all of my hard work this week’…
‘NICOLE!!! Get your lazy butt out of bed!!!’
Sound familiar anyone? Whether it is on day 2 or day 22 of a fitness regime this type of self-talk is the fuel of self-sabotage. We can always find a way to justify why it is best to choose the easy out.
So this morning I battled my fitness demon and won. Trust me, it was an epic battle as I was super cozy! I got out of bed, layered up, was greeted by my ever enthusiastic pup (who loves me extra a lot this week for all the walks. I have decided it is really not acceptable to have an unfit border collie…). I pushed through a big walk and 5 sets of stairs and a few sets of walking lunges on the way home for good measure (yes I looked like a bit of a nut job lunging down the footpath, but hey, who cares? It’s all in the name of fitness!).
The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the human body’s ability to adapt to change. In just over 5 weeks I have lost some extra kilos, increased my energy, improved my motivation and fitness, and made my dog very happy.
It is phenomenal how every individual is able to make astounding improvements to their fitness, health and wellbeing in a very short period of time by implementing a few simple changes and making some choices outside of their comfort zone.
I have felt so good about myself, and the direction I am headed in this week. I think a lot of it is in knowing that I have made the choice every day to get fitter and to become a better, healthier version of myself. In my life as an athlete there was no other option – it’s just what I had to do every day in order to get closer to my goal of being the best of the best (insert Top Gun music here). Now I am not letting anyone down but myself if I don’t get out of bed and exercise.
So I guess the moral of this story is that whenever you find yourself at your ‘fitness tipping point’, I hope you think of this, knowing that you are not alone and that this unfit Olympian goes through the mental struggle too, despite a lifetime of discipline and routine. So go on, make the tough choice, there is a good chance it will lead you on the path to your dreams, your optimal health and the best version of yourself. You have nothing to lose in taking the plunge and experiencing how it TRANSFORMS YOUR LIFE.
NOTE: I am actually posting this a few days after I originally wrote it and I wanted to report back that my second yoga class at Happyfit was so much better. Muscle memory is a crazy thing…. I actually felt a lot stronger despite not having done much other strength work. Very encouraging! Go out there and get fit people, it feels fantastic!
NOTE #2: Someone commented after reading this post that “you can’t outrun a bad diet” and that “you don’t really need to do all this activity if you have your nutrition dialled in”. Based on this I felt it was important to clarify where I am coming from with this post…. Nutrition is first and foremost the priority. I am a Naturopath and Nutritionist and wholeheartedly agree that nutrition is the key above all else. I also don’t think it’s necessary for people to exercise excessively/run/run stairs etc. but there is no denying that moving your body each day in some way is great for your health. Personally I will probably continue to go for a nice fast walk each day and do yoga a few times a week, most importantly – I will motivate myself to get moving each day! My aim was to motivate other people to move as little or as much as they like, as long as they move. Walking is great and in a lot of cases all that people can safely manage. I wanted to help motivate people who would like to exercise but are struggling against their inner voice and not managing to get moving. As for the early winter mornings – this is definitely not mandatory! I would LOVE to have another option but unfortunately it is my only window of opportunity each day. If you can avoid it then yay! That is awesome 🙂