Last week, I started formally working out again.
It’s been long enough that I don’t remember when exactly it was that I stopped.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten any exercise. I have. I’ve always been a walker. It’s one of my favorite activities, exploring the neighborhood, seeing what’s going on. And I typically find that when my mind is left to wander that I come up with good ideas.
But a formal fitness routine? Oooh boy. It’s been a while.
I haven’t even been walking as much the past few months, since I relocated to a new state. Part of that is that I’m still learning my neighborhood. Figuring out good paths to take. I’ve discovered a few routes that I like, but I’m noticing that everything in Texas is car-centric in a way that my old home in Lakewood, Ohio — a city designed to be entirely walkable, so much so that there are no school buses to take the children to school — wasn’t.
As a result, I’ve been more sedentary. In dire need of a formal program.
So I began to do aerobics routines. It’s nice these days because there’s basically an unlimited number of quality ones available for free on YouTube. You can rotate through them, never getting bored. (I hear there are even better premium services you can subscribe to as well that are very low cost; something I might look into later if I find my options running dry.)
The Humbling Reality of Beginning to Work Out Again
I looked up a fitness instructor I’d had luck with in the past and saw a variety of routines. I selected one that seemed really doable and pressed play.
I’d selected this specific instructor and this specific routine in the first place because I recognized them as something that used to be easy for me, back when I was at peak fitness. I didn’t expect much of a challenge. Figured I’d work into things gracefully, with something gentle, something easy.
Imagine my surprise when it kicked my ass. I barely finished the video. I was dripping with sweat, my heart racing. Felt dizzy during the cooldown and stretching.
This was supposed to be easy, but it wasn’t. I was confronted with the reality that I was in terrible shape.
It was tempting at this point to storm off. Find the worst comfort food I could summon up. Hide under the covers. Tell myself that my time has passed. That my body has clearly given up and it’s not feasible to be in good shape anymore.
But you know what? The routine may have been difficult, but I did finish it. And that matters. That’s something.
And in that moment, I told myself that I was going to finish another one.
It’s Hardest in the Beginning. The Important Thing Is to Keep Doing It.
Even though it emotionally feels like it will never happen, I mentally know if I just keep working out and then progressively increase the difficulty each time it stops being challenging that I’ll be back in fighting shape no problem.
I know that’s the way it works, regardless of how much my body complains and argues with me in the short term. Tells me that I’m insane. I’ve decided not to listen.
I told my doubts to shut up, and I did finish session 2. And as I’m writing this essay, I just finished session 3.
Session 2 wasn’t perceptibly any easier than the first workout. But that’s to be expected. It takes a while to get easier.
And session 3 I was able to do a slightly more challenging workout. Did I still feel like I was out of shape at the end? Exhausted? Sweaty?
Yes. But after a bigger challenge, which to me signals progress… and sooner than I expected.
It’s definitely hardest in the beginning though. The important thing is to keep doing it.