I actually began blogging 10 years ago when I was 24 so many of you may have seen these changes unfold slowly throughout my blogging career but I still thought it might be interesting to make note of the way certain things related to the way I work out and my overall approach to fitness have changed. I would also love to hear about changes you’ve seen in your exercise routine and what you think may have contributed to these changes.
When I began writing this post, I saw a theme emerge and it was one I’ve fully embraced: A lot of my workout changes stemmed from motherhood. I have less time to spend in the gym and less desire to really pour everything into fitness… BUT I have MORE desire to work out because I enjoy it and it’s something I do for myself. I have a stronger desire to keep fitness a priority in my life because I want my boys to see Mom taking care of her body. I understand that exercise is important for my mental health and my physical health and fully embrace the fact that regular movement and exercise is beneficial for my body for a myriad of health reasons… and I want to be healthy for my family.
And now here’s a little glimpse into how fitness in my 20s vs fitness in my 30s has changed in the past 10+ years!
Fitness in My 20s vs Fitness in My 30s
20s: 60+ Minute Workouts / 30s: 30-45 Minute Workouts
Gone are the days I’d spend an hour (or more) at the gym. I remember years ago thinking that if I didn’t have an hour of free time to spend at the gym it didn’t feel worth it and now that seems totally crazy to me. I also remember thinking a run should be around 5 miles to really count which seems insane to me now… but I also feel like the fitness culture in general a few years ago was all about longer cardio workouts. Now, in my 30s, I truly cannot remember the last time I worked up a sweat for more than 45 minutes. Short and sweet is the name of the game for me!
I credit two things for shifting my mindset away from believing that an hour at the gym was necessary: 1.) KIDS. After Chase was born, I began working out at home more often and nap time workouts mean time is limited! There was no way I was going to dedicate a full hour of precious kid-free time to a workout so I began focusing on shorter workouts to get the job done. 2.) Burn Boot Camp! I still remember feeling a little surprised when I learned that boot camp workouts are 45 minutes. Not too long ago it was next to impossible to find a group exercise class that lasted less than an hour but I quickly learned that 45 minutes is my personal sweet spot in a group exercise environment for a few reasons. I don’t get bored when classes aren’t a full hour! I also feel like I put more effort into my workouts because they don’t feel like they drag on forever and ever. Once I realized these few things about myself and the way I function during shorter workouts, they became my standard. Now most of my workouts last 30-45 minutes and I feel like they’re smarter, more efficient and more fun!
20s: 1 Rest Day a Week / 30s: 2 (sometimes 3) Rest Days a Week
Back in my 20s, Sundays were often my rest day from the gym. I’ve always understood and prioritized the importance of rest days and that has absolutely carried over into my 30s. Now I simply have MORE of them! This shift occurred mostly because I have more things to juggle in my life and fitness isn’t the focus it once was for me. I am very consistent on my weekday workouts (though I will occasionally miss one week day here and there) but weekends are almost always rest days around here. I’m not motivated enough to wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday to work out before the boys are up and I don’t want to spend time away from our family on the weekend to work out unless we make it a family affair (which I actually LOVE to do on occasion), so weekends are often rest days.
20s: Aesthetics Focus / 30s: Health/Longevity Focus
I feel like I’ve always had a decent mindset about my workouts and understanding the importance of movement and a regular fitness routine in my overall health, however, in my 20s I’d be lying if I said I didn’t give more thought to how my workouts would make me look from a physical standpoint. I also think on some subconscious level this probably played into my preference for alllll the cardio. Cardio = Sweatier = Skinnier. (Not true, by the way.) I gave more thought to my body and my physical appearance in general in my 20s than I do in my 30s and this is probably the shift I welcome most in my overall mentality when I think about how my approach to fitness has changed.
Do I still want my workouts to improve my body and how I look? Of course. But when I think about what I’m really hoping to gain from my workouts, it’s to be healthy and strong and have a body that will feel energetic around my children. I want the ability to be an active mother who enjoys doing physical things with my children and I want my children to see that fitness is important but also really fun! I actually find myself feeling increasingly frustrated with so much focus on aesthetics on social media and feel a serious push-back against a lot of it in my mind. So much of the latest fitness and nutrition fads are tied into diet culture in some new fancy package but when we shift our minds onto what most of us know and agree is important — regular movement and eating lots of veggies and fruits — some of the noise begins to fall away and we can find peace in listening to our bodies and going back to the basics.
20s: Cardio in Every Workout / 30s: Prioritizing Strength Training
In my 20s, my approach to fitness evolved quite a bit. Back in college, I was a big fan of spinning and the elliptical and still remember spending 50 on the elliptical as I watched The Real World at the UCF gym. (Oooh college.) I began slowly incorporating more strength training into my routine in my mid-20s but credit BodyPump with making me truly fall in love with strength training after college. Strength training quickly became my favorite thing and even though I began regularly lifting weights, I would still almost always incorporate some kind of cardio into my workouts. Whether it be a quick one-mile run to warm up or including cardio bursts in between circuits, I craved that sweaty cardio feeling in every workout.
Now, looking back on fitness in my 20s vs fitness in my 30s, strength training is still my favorite but I am in a place where I feel like strength training is 100 percent my priority. That often means I leave the gym sweaty but without that cardio high… and I’m more than okay with that feeling. I feel like I get enough “secondary” cardio in my day-to-day life as a mom. I move around with my boys all day long and I believe this counts BIG TIME so when I have time to work out, I choose to prioritize strength training because I know it’s incredibly beneficial for my body as I grow older. (Plus, I like it more!)
20s: Less Structure / 30s: More Structure
When it comes to thinking through my workouts, I look at the week ahead every Sunday and come up with a loose game plan. First, I begin by looking at Burn Boot Camp’s schedule for the week. I take this into account and will plan my personal workouts around the schedule depending on what BBC workouts appeal to me. (I’m most likely to skip core day because I personally feel that dedicating 45 minutes solely to working out your core is completely unnecessary, especially since so many BBC workouts incorporate exercises that engage the core all week long already.) I try to incorporate one upper body strength day, one lower body strength day and one total body strength day into my routine every week. Those are the three workouts I try not to miss and everything else is icing on the cake!
In my 20s, I planned out my workouts but usually did so in the morning right before I went to the gym. (I’ve always needed some kind of plan and don’t do well just winging it at the gym.) When it came to planning out my workouts in my 20s, my main priority was making sure I didn’t work out the same muscle group on back-to-back days to give myself ample time to recover but beyond that, I didn’t think through things too much.
20s: Autopilot / 30s: More Enjoyment and Focus on “Me Time”
During my 20s a lot of my commitment to the gym was based on autopilot more than anything. It was part of my daily routine, it made me happy and I knew it was important for my health. Comparing fitness in my 20s vs fitness in my 30s, I find myself thinking a lot more about the pure enjoyment I get from regularly incorporating exercise into my life. The ability to work out is not something I take for granted. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to move my body every day. Also, as a mom who stays home with her two boys, my gym time is often the only 45 minutes I have to myself during the day and that is something incredibly important to me. It gives me a moment to take a break from mom life and focus on myself which rejuvenates me and gives me energy for the rest of my day.
Also, when it comes to the enjoyment aspect of my workout, I’ve found something I love and this is something I hope everyone has or finds this year because I think it’s so important when it comes to establishing a long-term fitness routine. It’s a million times easier to motivate yourself to work out when you genuinely enjoy your workout! We don’t have to kill ourselves in the gym for our bodies to experience the incredible benefits of exercise and finding a form of fitness you enjoy is so incredibly important.
Question of the Day
How has your approach to fitness changed in the past 10 years?