Growing up, I wasn’t much of an athlete. I was on color guard, played piano, read a bunch and tutored. I also desperately wanted to find the Nathan to my brainy Haley (OTH* fans, I know you know what I mean). Probably would have been a bit more helpful if could sing though, ya know? Anyways, academics was much more my speed with the odd exception of me trying a season of basketball once.
In all honesty, it’s taken me years to find a workout I love. I didn’t even attempt to have a regular routine in the gym until college. And even that went out the window for a few years. Fortunately a couple of months ago, I finally decided to really give lifting weights a go. Partly because I wanted to up my metabolism and build muscle. But also because I’m not a massive fan of endless cardio. And guess what? I love it. I truly look forward to my gym session each day.
I’ve learned a lot about my body since I started lifting weights. I’ve also learned a lot about my mind. So today I thought I’d share what I feel like working out has taught me. And maybe, if you’re still on the hunt for a workout you love, it will help you too.
I’ve Learned How My Body Moves
Whether you’re a regular in the gym or just end up with the random pulled muscle, we all know the pain. The pain you feel when you suddenly move in a direction while you’re sore and realize you have muscles in places you’d never imagined. It’s both alarming and exciting all at the same time.
For me, it’s been a mix of those moments along with learning how to properly move in the gym that has give me a new perspective on my body. If you’re totally new to lifting weights, it can be helpful to try a class or have a personal trainer for a session or two. But the beauty of youtube means that there’s so many videos out there you can use. I’m currently using and loving Linn Lowe’s Strong & Lean plan*. The workouts are around 40+ minutes and each exercise has an accompanying video.
With every video and workout, I learn more about how to isolate and work certain muscles. Sure, there are some days I’ve probably got terrible form and I’m pulling from my lower back when I shouldn’t. But then there are days where I also realize how much more intense a move can be when I’m using my abs as well. I’ve connected with my body in a completely new way since I started lifting weights and it’s empowering.
I’ve Learned What Mindset I Need To Be In To Workout
When I first started my weight lifting sessions, I relied heavily of Whitney Simmon’s youtube videos. Love her! But eventually, I decided I wanted more of a plan that was progressive and allowed me to track things. Linn has a few programs in the Fitplan app* but I’ve only really done Strong & Lean so far. And I can tell you there are days it’s tough to stay mentally focused in the gym.
For me, I know that I need a good playlist and to keep my phone on do not disturb. If I have texts and notifications going off, I get too distracted. I’ve also found I workout best in the mornings when it’s the first thing I do in my day. I feel better for pushing through the extra reps and that determination seeps into the rest of my day.
I’ve also learned that some days I need to step away. Lifting weights and working out for me is as much about my mental health as it is about my physical health. As long as I show up and I’m doing my best, I’m okay with walking away at 15, 30 or 60 minutes. I’m no good to myself if I’m so distracted in the gym I’m not practicing proper form and potentially hurting myself. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights that I realized what mindset I needed to be in to really get the most out of my workout.
I’VE LEARNED WHAT MY BODY NEEDS TO THRIVE
I recently mentioned I’m no longer practicing the 8-16 form of intermittent fasting. Part of that was because I felt like my skin wasn’t healing. But I also felt like I wasn’t seeing results from the gym. Now I won’t pretend that I don’t want to be leaner or have more muscle definition. It’s nice to see your hard work visually come to life. However, getting skinny was never my reason for lifting weights nor will it ever be my goal.
I’m not a fan of the scale. So if I do decide to track or measure, it’s going to be with photos and a tape measure. And the work I was putting in wasn’t adding up. I was still tired, my body wasn’t doing much and I felt like I wasn’t progressing. My weights were staying the same and I wasn’t getting stronger. It took me about a month after ditching intermittent fasting to realize I hadn’t been eating enough.
It seems silly to have to say this but your body needs a certain amount of food and nutrients to thrive. There’s no getting around it. When I stopped IF and started following The Fab Four lifestyle*, there was the initial reset until I eventually hit a week where things started to click. My body was getting what it needed to perform at optimum levels and that energy flowed everywhere in my life. Seeing results in one area pushed me to work harder with all the other goals I’ve set.
I’VE LEARNED HOW TO MOTIVATE MYSELF
For the last few months, I’ve been working on my mental health in new ways. From adding in my morning pages to speaking affirmations over myself, I’ve been working on being kinder and more supportive. And those habits have also helped me in the gym.
There are days I go into the gym and I’m good to go. I pop on my playlist and get to work. But other days, I see the reps have gone up, the weights are heavier or I’m doing several exercises I don’t love. Those are the days I’ve had to learn to motivate myself. Instead of being the person that talks harshly and pushes themselves (i.e. don’t be weak), I’ve learned I do better with the pep talk. I speak to myself as though it were someone else cheering me on. You can do this. I’m proud of you. Think about how awesome you’ll feel when you finish this set!
Those little moments of pep talks and motivating myself with lifting weights have taught me so much. And instead of giving up when I have 5 reps of 1 minute planks, I cheer myself on one very long minute at a time.
I’VE LEARNED TO BE KIND TO MYSELF
Have you ever seen someone do something in a workout routine that looks super easy but then you try it and fail? I’ve absolutely been there, probably at least once this week. Instead of being mean to myself, I’ve learned to be kind. I choose the route of saying: you’re going to be able to do that some day. And instead of giving up, today you’re going to try this variation.
I’ve learned to show myself kindness in the growth and to be proud of myself when I do see changes. When I realize I need to up my weight because I’m stronger, I get excited. But at the same time, when I realize I might need to go down in weight to make sure my form is right, I stay kind. We all have to start somewhere. And my need to be the best at everything can prevent me from really ever learning. Lifting weights has taught me to be kind to myself in ways I didn’t realize I needed in my life.
So what about you? Is there something your workout has taught you? Is there something you’d love to learn from working out? Leave me a comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you! Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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