Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Talk Fitness

Don't worry, I won't preach at you. But I've been wanting to write this post for a while, and I figured now was the time. I have a lot of words, but it's meant to prompt discussion and the sharing of helpful tips and encouragement for incorporating fitness into a healthy lifestyle. For me, the key is maintaining balance. I know this is a beauty blog, but a big part of beauty is confidence. Getting myself in shape has been a huge factor in boosting my self-confidence as an adult, and I just wanted to share some of that here, in my personal space. All the usual disclaimers apply: I'm not a health professional, and I'm a relatively healthy person without medical conditions.

I was a pretty average little kid; even though mum put me in dresses & skirts (which I liked), I ran around outside and scraped my knees and played tetherball and tag and once punched a boy at recess (ha!). Somewhere toward the end of grade school, though, I became less active and put signifiant weight on. I don't remember it negatively, necessarily; no one teased me and I wasn't deeply unhappy. I'm not sure what prompted me to lose the weight again, but I did, just before high school.

Through high school and college, I never put the weight back on; I was of average size, but not necessarily particularly fit. In college, I half-heartedly hit the school gym a few times, but I wasn't really into it. At that point, it was still a matter of simply trying to maintain my size and fit my clothes. It wasn't until graduate school, when I lived on my own, that I really became interested in being more active for the sake of being active. Nowadays, some sort of physical activity is a regular part of my routine; I get restless if I don't work out in some fashion, and it is a priority for me to make time for it. It also helps me sleep better - I used to be a bit of an insomniac as a kid, and that has definitely been alleviated.

This is what I've learned thus far:

  • Try many things.
    As a person with terrible eyesight and bad depth perception, I have no business playing sports that involve flying projectiles. I also hate competition. Team sports are not for me. I'm a rock climber, an aerialist, a dancer. I have a green sash in Muay Thai and I like short workout videos (like Ballet Beautiful or Women's Health videos) that target specific areas. Aerial arts and rock climbing pulled me into weight lifting and other supplementary activities; I wanted to be stronger so I could climb that next problem or do that really cool lyra move, so I hit the weights. It's sort of taken off from there. But I think that anything that gets you moving is awesome. Zumba, DDR, another fitness video game - everything is fair game and I will try it.
  • You don't have to like or succeed at everything you try.
    I. Hate. Running. I've done a few 5Ks and S. and I run with the dogs once a week or so, but I don't achieve any particular zen state with it and I'm slow and awkward. But I like hanging out with S. and it's a nice way to tire out the dogs, so I do it. But along these lines - there isn't really a perfect time to exercise, either, no matter what anyone says. If you're a morning person, do it then. If you're an evening person, do it then. If you squeeze it in during your lunch, totally cool. Whatever you like.
  • Buy some cute - functional - workout clothing. 
    You may be rolling your eyes at me, but I promise this helps. And it doesn't have to be some insanely expensive Lululemon thang, but it will be more comfortable to work out in something designed for the purpose than an old baggy T-shirt that slips down and clings to sweat. Also, you'll be happier putting it on and getting ready to go if it fits well and you like the color. Target, discount stores like Marshalls, and Nordstrom all have a range of clothing in a range of sizes and price points. Lastly - you need comfortable shoes. If you're going to invest in something, make it that.
  • Ignore the haters.
    Seriously. I cannot stress how important this is. And negative criticism can come from the strangest places. For example, it's common in some cultures for women to be criticized (by family members!) for being too thin (you'll look sickly and not good for child-bearing or some Mulan shit), too fat (ugly, no one will marry you!) or too muscular (not feminine enough! Exercising is too dangerous!) or WHATEVER. I have seen people make fun of various other people in the gym for various stupid reasons - apparently overweight people should not dare to exercise. Small-minded people do not matter, and it's hard if it's a loved one, but gently (or, if you're me, not so gently, whatever) reject that kind of behavior and carry on. While we're on the topic - if you don't feel comfortable in the gym without foundation and mascara, go for it. My only concern is breakouts for myself, but my mom refuses to go to the gym without at least eyebrow pencil and eyeliner. If that's what you need, that's what you need. 
  • Find a friend.
    Or a dog. Whatever works. (Erm, possibly not the kitties, though.) S. and I hit the gym together most of the time, and it's helpful. We don't have the same fitness level or endurance, but it's one more person dragging you out of bed when all you want to do is roll over and go back to sleep. And it's nice to share goals and successes. Also, with the dogs, we walk 2 more miles each day than we normally would. So that's something, too.
  • Everything in moderation!
    I skip the gym sometimes. I eat cookies. I take a break. You should, too. It's not a punishment or reward type system, and people get tired. I also like to rotate through exercises and activities so I don't get bored. I get bored easily.
  • Don't injure yourself!
    And that is the only reason for watching your form and technique - to prevent injury. Also, I have no shame. I will pause a workout video, take a breather, get some water, curse at the instructor, and then carry on. 
With all this said, I'm not saying that everyone needs to be up and running. If you're not into it, you're not into it, and that's fine, too. This is more of a lead-in for those who want motivation or new ideas on how to stick to a routine or how to start incorporating more activities into their days. I'm always looking for new tips and tricks, as well.

How do you stay active? What are your tips for staying motivated and finding new things to do?