There are days when I’m raring to get started–to hit the ground running. Get in the car, drive happily to work, do my job, clock out, then hit the gym. if you had met me 6 years ago, you would probably have called me a gym rat because I was there every day for at least 4 hours. If I’m not running and working on my core, I’m probably in the boxing ring and then doing some weight training after. I was at the peak of my health then, having just enrolled in Muay Thai along with a twice-weekly 10k run. And then I found out I was 15 weeks pregnant. Eventually I had to stop martial arts and I had to take it easy on the gym sessions because my belly was getting too heavy (I can thank my half-British baby for that–he was born a little under 8 pounds!). I was 118lbs and 5’1″ tall. The 8 pounds was all baby! Motherhood took front and centre in my life and nothing else was as urgent or as important as my new calling. I missed the tough workout sessions, I missed my gym buddies. I missed the feeling of being exhausted beyond words but proud of myself for pushing on with a killer workout. But then the bliss of being a breastfeeding, full-time, hands-on mama washed over me and soon enough I had stopped working out entirely.
For three years.
Starting from scratch is daunting. I somewhat have the benefit of muscle memory (being really fit when I became pregnant was such a tremendous help because I stayed strong during my pregnancy and bounced back right away after delivering), but it’s still a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK. I’m back to my pre-baby weight but I wasn’t as strong or as toned as I used to be, so I started working out again. I realise that I’m one of those people who just feel so much better when I’m exercising (I guess anyone who exercises and produces endorphins will agree that a good workout makes an entirely huge difference in your mood!) and when I don’t work out, I start to feel ill and weak. The challenge now though is that as a full-time mommy who also works (and is a solo parent), I don’t have the 4 hours I used to have. I needed to strategise better.
Here are some key things I had to establish if I wanted to have a committed fitness regime.
- Be determined to see this commitment through.
It’s easy to start and stop and start again, but that kind of pace doesn’t build good momentum and hardly yields results. When it comes to weight loss and muscle toning, it takes about 12 weeks of consistent working out for people to see the difference in your body. I had to write down a promise to myself that I would wake up and hit the gym no matter how lazy or yucky I felt (except of course when I’m sick! It’s not ideal to workout when you’re under the weather because you immune system is down. You’d also be risking getting other people at the gym getting sick).
- Carve out a definite schedule for the gym.
I only have so much time in a day and being a solo parent is a 24/7 job. Any free time I get is spent with my son and somewhere in there I need to steal away some Me Time as well. I decided to devote an hour each day, three days a week in the gym. It would have to be a solid hour though, no wasting time on chatting with friends at the gym, or walking slowly on the treadmill on my smartphone checking out social media. It has to be a dedicated 60 minutes of exercise. I like to spend 15 minutes in the sauna or steam room after I work out because it helps relax me. I spend it massaging my muscles like my calves or arms and it gives me some quiet before I head into the outside world again.
Some women motivate themselves into working out by buying new workout clothes and shoes. That’s a little too capricious for me since my gym clothes from before the baby came all still fit, so I have to find other ways to motivate me. Music has always been such an integral part of my life (after all, I was a radio DJ for 6 and a half years) and so I created playlists containing songs that pump me up as well as songs that bring back happy and fun memories so as to make my workouts more enjoyable. I also look at photos of fit women in my computer so I can look at it on days I’m feeling slothful–it reminds me of my goal and really gives me the push I need. I also like to take some progress photos of my fitness so that I can remind myself that the slow but sure process is yielding results. I get to check how my arms and shoulders are looking, I can see if my squats are proving effective, and I can see the difference between my Before and After photos. It’s so thrilling to see yourself finally manifesting results of your workouts by way of a fitter body and a sounder mind.
This is a tricky one because you don’t want to come across as the douchey gym freak who makes everyone else feel less because they don’t work out in the same pace as you. By inspire I don’t just mean try to influence them to work out. When you exercise, you start to take on a much happier mood because you have a great outlet for your energies and stresses of the day. People will see the difference in your countenance and the spring in your step (or some may not) and that will just add to the great mood you’re already in any way. Eventually people will take notice of you physical appearance and when they do ask, you can share to them your passion for health and fitness–maybe even give some friendly (read:non-condescending) tips on how they, too, can get on the road to fitness.
Try befriending someone in your office or neighbourhood who maybe doesn’t have anyone to work out with and take them along with you, or accompany them to whatever their preferred activity is. It’s a wonderful way of bonding and building new friendships and relationships. Plus, working out with a buddy is always much more fun.
It is quite difficult to start a journey into fitness if you’ve never had an inclination to it before. But if you get started today and you stick to it (even when it’s just small 15-minute exercises in the morning before you hit the shower), your consistency will bring you great rewards. Give it two weeks and you’ll gain traction and hopefully you’ll find that your body is stronger and healthier, your mind is more refreshed, and you feel a lot better about yourself. Lazy days will come, but don’t let them win over you. The hardest part is getting to the gym; once you’re there, you might as well work out anyway. Nothing is impossible. You can do it, just take it one day at a time.
What’s your fitness regime? Do you like working out? If you’ve never done it before, would you like to get started on it soon?