Friday, 13 September 2013

Initiating a Change

When it comes to living a fitness-lifestyle, one quote that really does prove to be true is "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". I found this relevant to my nutrition and diet, as well as my gym workouts. There was a time i used to go in to the gym and leave it up to how i felt once i was inside, and whether it was a "treadmill" day, or a "crosstrainer" day, or a "do weights/abs at the end" day etc. I knew this wasn't going to really get me the goals i wanted, but i didn't really know how to change my mindset. Once you get into a routine of thinking or acting a certain way, it becomes difficult to change it. Then i realised:
Well, ain't that the truth. So i was going to have to change something. And the way i initiated that change was to get involved in some gym classes. I used to think gym classes were nonsense. How can a class really help you when its not individualised, tailored to your own personal fitness, goals, age, weight etc. And i did get some stick from it, about it being the lazy option, too generalised ETC. But it helped. It challenged me because the trainer taking the class would push me, and i was able to challenge my comfort zone. Now i used to go extremely "hard" at the gym before, make no assumption that i was a weakling, slowly jogging for 2 minutes then stopping. NO. I was always dripping with sweat by the end of my workout, i would make sure i pushed myself to the point of fatigue, often did HIIT sprints, and was commended by guys at how "hard i go", unlike a lot of the girls at my gym who looked beautiful at the beginning and beautiful by the end. Nope, i was a sweaty pig. But going to the classes made me alter my mindset and that was the beginning of something great. I started seeing exercise as a way of sculpting my body as opposed to "burning off the calories i had eaten". I started to change the way i reached fatigue, say by going to spinning and sprinting right at the beginning of my exercise for longer or with more resistance than if i had been doing it myself. I stopped listening to my own voice and started pushing my body. 
I also started to get introduced to implementing weights into my workout, and centre-ing a workout around weights. I knew that women were being encouraged to get off the treadmill and "lift heavy", but that was so difficult for me to actually do when my gym was full of young, ripped 20 year olds leaving no space for anyone on the weights section. It was easier to "push myself hard'" on the treadmill, then venture over and "go lift". Not only that, but i didn't know what the hell i would be doing. What weight would i use? What if i used bad form? A rep? A set? It was all really confusing and overwhelming. But the classes helped me break that mentality and start to learn the concept behind weights, and the names for certain exercises, including the form, what was an okay weight for me etc. I built the courage. I knew, however, that in order to get the real results i was after that i couldn't just depend on classes. I had to take what i had learnt from doing the classes and implement it into the gym. I started becoming "used to" the classes, and felt it was actually going to hold me back. Body Pump, in particular, is one that comes to mind: it helped me in so many ways to get acquainted with weights, but the very high rep range meant that i wasn't using heavy or even slightly-heavy weights because we were doing 3293481239 reps of each exercise. NOW there is a lot of debate regarded high rep:lower weight vs low rep:heavy weight vs very low rep:extremely heavy weight, but body pump uses A LOT more reps. An entire song worth of reps with sometimes no break. It also means that you cheat on your form, because by the 2394234th rep, your muscle does fatigue and because you have to keep going (in synchrony with the rest of the class), you end up losing the true form of the exercise that is imperative to working the muscle. NOW I AM NOT SLAYING BODY PUMP. it was FANTASTIC. and without it i would NOT have ever got the stamina, knowledge or courage to step into the weight section of the gym. I would still be on that treadmill, sweating my calories away but not reaching my goals. 
This is why i repeatedly use the term "Journey", when discussing my experience with fitness and nutrition. You cannot begin as an expert. It takes a lot of trial and a hell of a lot of errors. And i sure am still learning, making trials and errors (on a weekly basis). You will wish you had known what you know now months before, but it takes failure to reach success. You will wish you had started sooner than you had. One thing is for sure, you can't just read about it and learn, you have to go out there and experience this for yourself. Classes worked for me, but they may not necessarily for you AND THAT'S OKAY. You just have to find what does. And you will.

This is a photo i took this morning of my progress:
September 13th

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