Since high school, I have struggled to develop a healthy relationship with my body in terms of physical fitness. Eating relatively healthy foods? No problem. Avoiding binge eating? Got it. Establishing, maintaining, and actually enjoying any sort of workout routine? Not happening! Exercise has been such a nemesis for me.
As we were finalizing what to take with us for our RV life on the road, I dug through the closet (mainly in search of yet more errant shoes which needed to be culled out). Buried in the back was a beautiful pastel watercolor print Pilates mat. It was a Christmas gift from my husband – one which I had requested in an effort to encourage myself to actually utilize our gym membership more than once a month.
A part of me wanted to leave the mat and all the workout clothes behind. After all, if I hadn’t managed to establish a consistent fitness routine while leading a stationary and more predictable life, how did it make sense to think that I would somehow manifest that sort of discipline on the road?
Still, the idea of leaving the mat behind felt like giving up, the ultimate throwing in of the proverbial towel. It would mean accepting that I would never have that toned, strong, flexible body that I could be proud of sculpting.
On another level, it seemed that to give up here would be allowing myself to give up on other goals when the process gets challenging. As a perfectionist, I often find myself defaulting to doing only those things which I excel at while carefully avoiding anything which I believe I could fail at. This works to a point – I succeed at the things I choose to do, yet this strategy is also inherently self-limiting.
None of us are born with the knowledge and skills which enable us to accomplish everything we wish to in this life. When we allow our fear of failure and possible criticism from others to hold us back from learning and growth, we stunt our innate potential.
My husband frequently encourages me and reminds me to have more patience with myself and the process of learning new skills. Wanting to be the best is great as long as it drives me forward in a positive way. Expecting to be the best at everything immediately then getting frustrated and giving up if I don’t excel right away serves no purpose. It doesn’t get me any closer to the woman I wish to become.
Ultimately that Pilates mat made the cut and came on this adventure with us, as did the workout clothes. It sat in the back of that closet again until about a week and a half ago when we were talking about how we are now in the warm, sunny states where we will be spending much of our time in swimwear and taking lots of beach photos.
My body, for someone who has never worked out consistently in her life, looks pretty good. I am happy with it, with the places it takes me, and the adventures we have had together. Still, a part of me has wanted to see what I could look like with a truly fit body.
The one blip of enjoyment on my historical workout radar was when I first moved to the city, joined a gym, and did Pilates 3 days a week after work. The instructor always played inspirational, wonderful music and she guided us through the routines with just the right level of encouragement. I remember walking out of those classes feeling both my body and mind so calm and at peace.
After we moved, I didn’t get back into Pilates, but the memories of that class lingered. A couple years ago, my husband suggested I try Blogilates, so I chose a few of Cassey’s workouts and did them for a little bit before quitting yet again.
My physical fitness story has always been about quitting, about giving up, about feeling weak, inflexible, uncoordinated, unmotivated, and incapable of success. Here’s the thing – I am a writer. People pay me to write their stories, to change their stories, to improve upon their stories. If I can do that, then what is stopping me from editing my OWN story?
We all have those anchors holding us back in life – the childhood traumas and insecurities, the lingering echoes of others’ criticisms and doubt. We can continue to let them define our story or we can step back in and take charge of writing the next chapter of our lives.
The next chapter of my physical fitness story reads like this: “She downloaded the Blogilates beginner’s workout calendar and committed to following it for the full 28 days.”
Notice, it does NOT say: “She made a new year’s resolution to work out every single day for the rest of her life.”
28 days – that is the promise I have made with myself and which I am sharing with you.
I will not be running a marathon or be able to do the splits by the time this month is up. If I set those as my goals, at the end of the month no matter how much progress I made, I would still feel like a failure. Instead my goals are to complete all the workouts and follow the entire schedule while improving my strength and flexibility. At the end of the month when I have done the workouts and can do more reps and stretch a little further than I could when I started, I will give myself permission to feel proud of what I have accomplished without berating myself for how far I have yet to go.
So here you go – are you ready for it?
Your October challenge is:
1. Pick one piece of your story that you aren’t happy with, something that you have been trying and failing to change for years. Do you want to read more? Eat more salads? Become more flexible? Write/call the people you love? Learn a new skill?
2. Whatever it is, decide where you want to be at the end of 28 days and set a realistic goal.
3. Once you have your goal set, backwards plan and choose little mini goals for each day which will get you to your final goal by the end of 28 days.
4. Write it all down on a calendar so it is easy to see and to check off, then SHARE it with your friends and family.
5. Prioritize the plan and follow it through to completion. 28 days – we can do this!
6. Share your success and tell us how you took charge and wrote the next chapter of your life rather than letting your past write it for you!