Almost a year ago, one of my girlfriends asked me to take a class with her at Anytime Fitness. She said she needed someone to keep her accountable, a workout partner who wouldn’t make her feel inadequate. I thought about it for a moment and quickly agreed to help my friend… But I made it clear that I did not like that the class was at 7am on Saturdays for 6 weeks. As the weeks passed, 7am did not become easier, and neither did the workouts, but we were committed and stayed with it. Then, about 4 weeks into the program, I noticed I was stronger. 10 pushups weren’t impossible. My body was stronger, my mind was stronger, my will to get things done was stronger. My energy and ability to work long hours improved. I started making healthy decisions on Friday night so that my body would be stronger at the gym on Saturday morning. Before we knew it our 6 weeks was over and our trainer asked if we wanted to do another session. Without hesitating we said YES! Another 6 weeks came and went and we felt like something was missing, so we added another day to the workout schedule. Only this time, at 6am. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I bartend on Tuesday nights and often don’t get to sleep until after 1am. The thought of waking up at 5:30 to go to the gym seemed horrible, if not impossible. But I thought of how I’d changed over the previous weeks and didn’t see any reason not to at least try. So I started going at 6am on Wednesdays and continued at 7am on Saturdays. There were occasions when we would not have class on one of the days and I realized I missed it. I missed the feelings of being challenged, of pushing my body as hard as I could, sometimes feeling successful and sometimes feeling completely incapable. Another 6 weeks went by and we added another day to the workout week, now even earlier, 5:30am.
I started noticing other changes in my life. My thoughts were more positive than negative. I started looking at day to day challenges and saying to myself ‘if I can do 10 burpees, I can do this.’ Other doors started opening. My relationship with my boyfriend improved, in fact, we are going to be married in July. I was able to take on more challenges at work and support my fiancé thru the ups and downs of opening his own business. No matter what was going on or how many hours I was working, I was at the gym 3 mornings a week.
Last September, Dan, Jacob, Emily, and I signed up and ran the Bridge the Community 5K, together as a family. And when I say together, I mean Jacob finished much earlier than the rest of us. But we did it together.
The focus on wellness keeps me grounded, humble, and strong. I started this journey last May. There were mornings in the summer when we’d be working out outdoors and it would be 90 degrees at 6am and it was hard. But when the alarm went off at 5am all those mornings this winter, and I rolled out of bed, put on a tshirt, hoodie, workout capri’s, sweatpants, hat, gloves, scarf and snowboots and drove to the gym when it was -20, I felt ridiculous. But the winter taught me that there is something else that makes the early morning workout spectacular. And it’s the sunrise. When it is dark on my way to the gym and dark on my way home, I turn east toward my house and see the first little fingers of sunlight creeping up beyond the trees, and I think this is just the beginning. I listen to my heartbeat in my ears, smell the sweat on my face, feel the warmth in my muscles and I can’t help but look to the sunrise and see God. It is a daily visual reminder that even the darkest night will end, and the coldest winter will be followed by spring. As long as I hear my heart beating, I can look to the sun and say hi to God and thank him for giving me another day. Another chance to change my life, a chance to right a wrong, to work hard, and to love my family.
I don’t look like a body builder and I will never be a skinny girl. My body just isn’t made that way. But I can do things now that were impossible to me 11 months ago. The first time our trainer showed us how to do burpees, a very challenging full body movement, I could manage doing only 2 or 3. Last week I completed 32 in 2 minutes. It has made me wonder what else I can do, that I just don’t know about yet. Maybe I can play whiffleball with my friends. Maybe I can sing a solo in the choir. Maybe I can speak in church on Sunday, even tho I’ve spent my life being scared to speak in front of people. 11 months ago, when asked, I would have said no, I can’t. But I did 32 burpees on Wednesday at 6am after I had worked 17 hours the day before. So maybe I can.
My fitness journey has taught me that I am more often limited by my mind than by my body. Sometimes all I need to do is change my mind.