Fitness has taken on many shapes and forms throughout my life. I didn’t truly get into a healthier lifestyle until my late 20’s, so it can seem that I’m only speaking from about a decade or so of experience. I’ve watched fitness trends and fads come and go. I’ve also seen my own training schedule and workouts adjust so that I stay ‘hip’ and don’t lose my fitness swag at the same time.
My initial reason for getting into fitness in the first place was to wear a midriff shirt. No lie. I wanted to look fly in my half shirt confidently.
Of course, my reasons have changed along with my methodology.
They say you teach what you needed to learn and that’s such a true statement when it comes to me and how I am as a trainer and instructor. I, so badly, don’t want anyone to repeat my mistakes and feel inclined to share my [sometimes extremely stupid] life lessons with those I cross paths with. You, friend, are one of those people. So, let me do some sharing:
1. Plyometrics and jumps are amazing, but not a daily gig.
I was all FOR the INSANITY program and became addicted to HIIT training early on in my journey. I didn’t realize, however, that high-intensity DIDN’T need to mean HIGH IMPACT all of the time. Now, as I approach 40, I am feeling all kinds of kinks and tweaks I caused from the gung-ho plyo-attitude I took on early in the journey. Now, I realize that I need to stay in my ‘GO HARD OR GO HOME’ lane knowing I’m giving my best within any given interval. As long as I am working at between a 6-9 MAX on a scale of 1-10 for RPE, I’m solid. [and if you don’t know what I mean by RPE, let me refresh your memory with a little gym graphic you may have seen a time or two.]
2. Pushing myself can also mean checking my safety first.
Going along with #1 would be my nitpickiness regarding form. Yes, I took the plunge and actually became a certified fitness professional which doesn’t hurt the situation. Even if someone isn’t a fitness professional, there is something [or many things] to be said about maintaining proper form and technique. Think about it this way, if you drove down the street with your tire in the gutter the entire time, that tire is sure to end up way more bald than the other side right? When I was the queen of plyometrics training and didn’t monitor my form, I did a lot of damage I had to work on undoing. As I entered the world of teaching others to move properly, it became even more evident that I had work to do in that area myself. I had knee pain from slouching when I ran, I had tight hip flexors from sitting too long at a desk all day. Moving properly and taking time for recovery can enable us to keep ticking!
3. Too much cardio = bad. Not enough cardio = also bad.
Cardio has always been an integral part of varied training. In my 20’s, I saw it as a way to sweat as much as I could to weigh less. I didn’t understand the importance of increased muscle within the body to enhance fat burn and assist with body composition. Just like most things I learned from my old self, balancing my life with a healthy dose of cardio was another one of them.
I don’t need to do steady state cardio for an hour or more a day; the goal should be to increase endurance on some cardio workouts while burning max outputs on interval workouts.
4. What worked for them won’t work for you.
We can fall victim to the comparison syndrome. We look around for the next big thing in fitness trends and think “Susie lost 40 pounds with that diet, I’m all over it!” No, sweet ‘old self,’ that isn’t necessarily true! It took me over a decade of copycatting diets and programs to realize that what worked for everyone else wouldn’t always work for me. My body is MY BODY and unlike anyone elses. It comes with its fair share of special traits including asthmatic lungs, a short stature, muscles built for strength and not endurance to name a few. I know now as a trainer that I have to stay on top of changing things up every 6-8 weeks to keep myself challenged inside and out. I eat foods that work for me, enjoying indulgence off and on to celebrate that 20% of the 80/20 lifestyle. I avoid foods that don’t’ feel good on the inside instead of thinking that ‘they make me fat.’ I do what works for me and remember to obtain knowledge before trusting that link someone shared about “The Secret to Fat Loss” if the alure is too strong.
In other words, don’t be Regina George.
5. What got you here won’t get you there.
(This also coincides with: Listen to your body more and adjust accordingly.) Varied training days keep me balanced and less likely to get hurt. Like I said in #4, I have to be in front of the plateau instead of behind it. We have to know how smart our bodies are. They respond to changes and adapt accordingly. So, why would I do the same thing after 8 weeks work when the first 8 weeks were the challenge in the first place? I would always beat myself up and think I wasn’t sticking to a diet enough, so I would remove even more calories from my day in my 20’s. I would also think I wasn’t working hard enough, so add in more of the same workouts that beat my body up. Nope, those things just crushed my spirit. What keeps me evolving and progressing is remembering that safely getting out of my comfort zone to cycle higher and lower food days along with new workouts and different durations is also the key to longevity in fitness.
I always tell my younger clients – and even saying the word ‘younger’ makes me feel old, joy – to “never trust your 18 year old self.” I remind them that when I was younger I thought I knew everything. I thought that I had everything laid out in the future to live just the perfect life and feel perfect inside and out. Instead, I was closing myself off to learning the right ways to live life by being a know-it-all.
Lesson: Don’t be a know-it-all, try new things, change sh** up, KEEP GROWING AND LEARNING (in life and in fitness – it applies to the whole gamut!)
What would you tell your ‘old self’ if you could turn back time?
What lessons have you learned on your personal journey that you feel inclined to share with the universe?