This conversation made me think about a few other events or milestones in my life that have impacted my workouts and my overall approach to health and fitness. Some are more serious than others but I thought it might make for an interesting blog post! I’d love to hear a little bit about the things in your life that have helped shape your attitude toward fitness in the comments section of this post!
Below you will find six things that impacted the way I approach fitness in chronological order…
Six Things That Changed The Way I Approach Fitness
- Training for My First Long Distance Race
I have never been a naturally gifted runner. In fact, I’d also say I’ve never been a naturally gifted athlete and always seemed to be pretty darn average in any sport I attempted as a child or high school student. This didn’t stop me from enjoying athletics and fitness but when it came to tackling big athletic endeavors, I definitely had a mental road block up and assumed I couldn’t achieve what others could, especially when it came to running long distances.
After college, I found myself looking for a new goal. I needed something to challenge myself outside of work and wondered if I could work my way up to running a half marathon. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I read a bunch of reviews from “newbie” runners like myself who praised Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon Training Plan.
As I started training, I learned a lot about myself. Training for my first long distance race taught me that so much of my personal barriers are mental. This is something that stuck with me and is something I continually think about to this day. When I want to give up during a particularly challenging workout, I remember that my head typically wants to give up before my body does and I try to dig a little deeper. As cheesy as it may sound, training for a half marathon taught me about mental toughness, the importance of creating and achieving goals and believing in myself.
(If you are considering training for your first half marathon, you may be interested in this post: So You Want to Run a Half Marathon?)
I discovered BodyPump shortly after college and credit this group exercise class with helping me learn to love strength training. Throughout college, I did some strength training but was definitely more of a cardio queen. My workouts were typically a combination of spinning classes, steady state training on the elliptical, running and other group fitness cardio-based classes.
It wasn’t until my boss at the Orlando Museum of Art encouraged me to try BodyPump with her after work one day in 2007 that I first took the class. I instantly fell in love with the fast-paced format and the way the class delivered a challenging total body workout in just under an hour. BodyPump quickly became part of my workout routine for years!
It’s still a class I absolutely love and shaped the way I approach fitness moving forward. BodyPump helped me fall in love with strength training and prioritize strength training in my personal fitness routine for years to come.
(If you are interested in trying BodyPump and want to know more about the workout, you may want to check out this post: What Is BodyPump?)
- My Mother’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2008. Her diagnosis shocked and scared our family but throughout her treatment, she never lost her optimistic attitude and the strength I always saw in my mother only intensified. I feel so beyond grateful that her surgery, chemotherapy, radiation (and then more chemotherapy) proved successful.
My mom’s diagnosis dramatically shifted the way I think about health, fitness and overall wellness. As I watched my mom fight cancer, I couldn’t help but feel grateful she went into her diagnosis feeling healthy and strong. She prioritized fitness (she’s been an avid Jazzerciser for years) and healthy eating and I believe this made a big difference in how she was able to handle the aggressive treatment that came her way following her diagnosis.
Prior to my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis, I will be completely honest and say I exercised largely for vanity reasons. I knew exercise was good for my health, but my main motivation for hitting the gym was definitely to look good and avoid post-college weight gain. After my mom’s diagnosis, a switch flipped and I began to view exercise and healthy eating as essential for my own wellbeing. I began to value a strong body and knew that eating Lean Cuisines for dinner wasn’t the way I wanted to fuel my body. I wanted to be healthy and began to view exercise and food in a new light.
Becoming pregnant completely shifted the way I approached my personal health and fitness because everything I was doing was no longer just about me. I was sharing my body with a baby and I wanted to do everything in my power to keep him safe and healthy in my belly.
Though I’ve always tried my best to listen to my body, pregnancy made me acutely aware of my body, my physical limitations and my health and safety because everything I did affected another person.
During my third trimester, I was hit with some seriously debilitating sacroiliac joint pain that left me unable to walk without experiencing stabbing pain. This experience taught me to slow down. Sometimes our fitness goals and exercise have to take a backseat to rest and recovery.
It’s so incredibly important to honor your body and not push through the pain. Pregnancy taught me to take a step back, rest and listen to my body. Exercise will always be there and I jumped back into a fitness routine when my body felt better and I knew it was safe. My time away from rigorous workouts actually left me feeling more grateful than ever before for a healthy body and more motivated to hit the gym once I was better.
- Becoming a Mother
Becoming a mother shifted the way I think about my body. When I was pregnant, I shared my body with Chase and it was incredible for me to see what my body was capable of doing, both during pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery. Pregnancy and motherhood helped reinforce what I already knew: My body is so much more than the way it looks aesthetically.
I now feel a sense of clarity and purpose related to my health and wellness that I didn’t before. I’ve prioritized (mostly) healthy living for years, but now I feel a strong sense of motivation to remain active and healthy because I want to be around for a long time to watch Chase grow up. I want to be an involved mother both mentally and physically and I already can tell Chase will keep me running around like crazy! I want to be able to keep up with my active little man and know that taking care of myself so I can be a better mother is so important. I want to be healthy and strong both for myself and for my family.
Becoming a mother also taught me that quality trumps quantity when it comes to the time I spend at the gym. I used to be able to spend an hour or more at the gym and now the vast majority of my workouts are 25 to 45 minutes. I push myself and make what little time I dedicate toward my (almost) daily workouts really count! I remember a time when I felt like going for a run wasn’t worth it if I couldn’t at least squeeze in five miles. What was I thinking!? Short workouts can be very effective and HIIT training is legit!
Burn Boot Camp is, without a doubt, my favorite workout I’ve ever done in my entire life and so much of the reason why I love it so much is the supportive, motivational and encouraging environment.
The trainers constantly emphasize strength over size (LOVE this), focusing on your own journey (aka not comparing yourself to others), making goals for yourself and growing stronger every day.
BBC has changed my approach to fitness because I find myself pushing myself harder in the class because I’m surrounded by such encouraging women and trainers. I’m selecting heavier weights than ever before, doing more push ups on my toes than I thought possible and feeling stronger.
I am so excited when my friends accomplish big goals during a workout and it feels amazing when they notice me achieve a fitness-related milestone (knocking out a series of doubleunders and push ups come to mind!) in class and give me a high five during the workout. The supportive environment is contagious and surrounding myself with women who prioritize healthy living and both physical and mental strength has been incredible.
(If Burn Boot Camp is on your radar and you’re considering trying it out, this blog post may interest you: What To Expect at Burn Boot Camp)
Question of the Day
- What is one thing in your life that impacted the way you approach fitness?