People often comment on being ‘fit for my age’ or ‘I wish I could look like you’ or that I have ’good genes’ or ‘you’re so tiny’. I can’t help that last one, I’m the runt in the family. Truth is – I put in the work; I always have. What that looks like has changed over the decades. Yep – decades, five of them. Looking back on my fitness history, these words come to mind – pride, dumbassery, ignorance and arrogance (a terrible combo), badassery and even sadness. From all of that though I’ve realized my own ever-evolving manifesto which I haven’t actually put onto paper until now. It’s in no particular order and the themes tend to overlap into one another.
Be your best self
A defining ‘fitness moment’ for me happened when I was a tween. My dad said to me, in reference to my Granny’s flabby underarms, “That’s going to be you someday”. In my mind I just ticked off a box – nope.
By no means have I ever had or ever will have a fitness model body. The desire to feel good in my skin has been a constant and has always motivated me. I don’t do it for anyone but me. Comparison is bad company, not just with others but also your past, present and future self. I just try to be the best version of me where I’m at. Not going to lie – it’s a tall order some days
Commitment and consistency
What I figured out for myself ages ago is that scheduling time to make my training happen makes my training happen. Lately, my mantra has been ‘just do something’. That might be 10 minutes of joint circles and a walk; or a quick ‘n’ dirty high intensity training; or getting in some heavy lifting; or just playing and being silly! Movement is life!
Never say never
Three big ‘nevers’ I’ve said:
- I’m never going to run unless I’m being chased by a bear. After quitting smoking and dealing with major foot issues I ran several 10ks, a handful of half marathons and a few full marathons in decade four. Incidentally, how the heck did I think I could run from a bear without being physically PREPARED for it?
- I can never be a personal trainer, I’m not (insert here all the dumb things I told myself).I’m currently in my second decade of coaching with no intention of stopping anytime soon.
- I’m never going to learn how to swim. After a traumatic incident in decade one I had a tremendous fear of being underwater. Sick and tired of being in the first badge for all of elementary school I earned 6 badges in the summer between Grade 7 and 8 and eventually had a brief stint on the swim team.
Of course, there are obvious ‘nevers’ – for example as a 5’2” fifty-year-old woman I’ll never be drafted into the NBA. In the realm of realistic possibilities, be open! If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try and the barriers to attempting it are overcome-able, who knows what can happen!
Respect the changes
Like Rose in the movie Titanic looking at a salvaged hand mirror: “This was mine. How extraordinary! And it looks the same as it did last time I saw it….the reflection’s changed.”
Sooner or later things go south – literally. Staring down at my phone and accidentally turning on the camera is exceptionally…humbling. It’s harder to keep the cellulite at bay and even though I know I’m strong, my skin is less firm and definition is taking a downward slide. Aside from vanity, there’s also the hormonal changes that can affect energy levels and may need to be addressed. I highly recommend seeking out a Naturopath who specializes in hormones – it’s been a game changer for me. Gratitude plays a big part here – I’m grateful for a relatively pain free body with working limbs. I’m grateful I can take care of myself and others. I’m grateful I wake up on the right side of the dirt. I’m grateful that the people I love also love me for me and not how I look.
Do the boring stuff
Every. Damn. Day. Bah! I don’t find mobility work a lot of fun. It’s uncomfortable and not very exciting but worth every minute. I always feel better after. Always. If there was one thing I could change about my fitness history it would be incorporating smart mobility work in decade two. Greasing the engine makes everything run better and helps me do what I want to do and learn what I want to learn. I feel that if I had these tools early on I would have mitigated several injuries, trained smarter and saved a whole lot of money spent on practitioners for small scale aches and pains I could have alleviated myself. More recently I’ve noticed that when I don’t feel like training (yes, I’m human too and love nothing more than a day in bed with a good book and my cats), that just doing my joint circles mentally prepares me to move and do more… most days.
Keep trying new things
Within decade five alone, I discovered natural movement, started various combative practices, began training on gymnastic rings and got my first muscle up, finished a Spartan race, dabbled in CrossFit, Ido Portal, parkour and kettlebells, and became a Bikram yogini (until years later when I realized I freaking hate yoga). My biggest takeaway in trying and learning new things is that I don’t have to be an expert at everything! In the past, I wanted to know ALL the things and be the star student and do every level available and give me that damn certificate because I earned it!!! (I’m still kinda that person). Now, I take a class or a course, I take what resonates and I leave the rest. The absolute best I’ve learned has come from the Restore Human Method because it helps you do whatever you want to do. You’re not limited to one piece of equipment or one ideology or one sport.
Knowledge as key motivator
The more I learn about the human body, physical and mental fitness and foods, the more I realize how much I didn’t know, how much I don’t know and how much I have learned, it is ever evolving!
After years of disordered eating, especially in decades two and three, and vilifying certain foods while consuming processed crap I thought was healthy, I’ve finally found balance.
My most favorite quote regarding food comes from journalist and activist Michael Pollan – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I follow this rule of thumb maybe 80% of the time. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes 0%. Everything in moderation including moderation.
Gaining a healthy love affair with food allows me a better quality of life with science-based, not government-controlled nutrition and the freedom to smash a burger and fries once in a while. And the occasional brownie.
You do you
After being an independent contractor at a ladies only big box gym I saw so many women of a certain age clinging to the same routine day after day and complaining about it day after day. Many of these women made the comments I mentioned previously. When I offered an alternative I was met with resistance, often stating I’m too old or too out of shape or whatever. It drove me bonkers and solidified my intent to not settle as I grow older.
To recap, this is what I’ve learned and what works for me: The key is finding what works for you and being open to changing what works for you as your body changes in all your decades.