I found myself through two things that will forever be massive parts of my life: my faith in God, and the gym.
I had never joined a gym prior to 2016 and knew very little about fitness and nutrition. Like very.little. y’all.
I hated my body. I felt weak. I felt exhausted. I felt trapped in a body that I knew deep down needed to be challenged and pushed for health and longevity, but also for my own sense of confidence. I swear, during pregnancy, your body does this seemingly satanic, evil thing where it dissolves all of your muscles and replaces it with fat. I am not kidding. My butt sunk 2 inches lower after I had my daughter! Sometimes at night, I heard it laughing at me. Swear.
Anyway, I had absolutely no idea where to begin.
I was never athletic. I did gymnastics for a bit but didn’t stay in it for a long enough period of time to really create healthy habits (still my favorite sport to this day!). I grew up in a family where we ate what we were given, and it was usually what was cheapest (and yes, I still love hotdogs and ramen noodles). Cheap usually doesn’t mean nutritious though, so forget about any knowledge of a balanced meal, micronutrients, calories, etc.
When I started thinking about improving my health, post-baby, I fought hard with my past identity. My mind said that because I never played sports, I couldn’t be athletic, in shape, or comfortable in the gym. I told myself that I was who I was and there was no changing that. I felt like I didn’t belong in a gym, that I certainly didn’t belong in the free weights section, and that everyone else thought that way of me too. They would all see I was trying to be something I wasn’t – and I didn’t want anyone to see through me. This embarrassment would fuel my fear of rejection (which masked itself in insecurity and anxiety back then), and rejection HURTS.
Have you ever experienced that? You had a thought about something you wanted to do, try, or be, but because you never had before, you felt incapable. I think we all have. I know that I’ve questioned:
-My ability to get a good grade on a test.
-My ability to get my license when I was 16.
-My ability to participate in a research lab in college (I ended up managing it and presenting my own research in NYC!).
-My ability to be a good mom when I was pregnant and had no idea what the heck to do.
And the list goes onnnn & onnnn.
When I was thinking about exercising, I was at a crossroad. I could accept that I had never done it before, believe that I couldn’t learn, and accept my body as it was, or I could use Google to research weightlifting for beginners, screw those thoughts that kept me tied to the same place in life, and start somewhere.
Although I lived in Hawaii at the time and didn’t have practical access to a gym (super long commute and actual negative account balances – for real), I looked up what I could. After 6 months, I moved back to Wisconsin, secured enough money to join a gym, and promised myself that I would never see the monthly cost as an EXPENSE, but instead an INVESTMENT.
I may have hid in the studio room and exercised in there until I needed heavier weights (think months) but I learned more, improved my form, adapted to the loads I was using, and kept working at it.
I made the choice to challenge my limiting beliefs and to start learning. I made the choice to try, even when I felt uncomfortable and inadequate. I made the choice to see my mew gym membership as the BLESSING and PRIVILEGE that it was.
Here’s the takeaway: You are who you say you are. You can do what you believe you can do. Your thoughts control your feelings, words, and actions. Think wisely. And then do everything in your power to be who you want to be.