Buzz, buzz, buzz. That’s either my alarm clock or brain waves going off at 5:00 a.m. to alert me that it’s time for my daily date with the gym. Most people dread that sound, but for me it’s “Hello, day. Let’s do this.” It’s my time to push my limits and get stronger, both physically and mentally. It’s my form of meditation. When I get in to work, I feel like I’ve already accomplished something and I’m in an “eff yeah!” mood—ready to tackle anything.
I’ve always been active. When I was young, I loved playing tag, dodgeball, hopscotch, jump rope, and riding my bike around the neighborhood. I played soccer and volleyball in high school. And as an adult, I’ve done early morning boot camps, rock climbed, skied, and done Spartan obstacle course races. The combination of being active and participating in these activities with a group of people makes it fun for me and, ultimately, makes me feel good. I feel the same about work. Sharing experiences with people I enjoy collaborating with makes work something I can look forward to.
And then I had my first child, so goodbye to working out. Well, more like a hiatus. During my daughter’s first year (she’s now seven), my energy was consumed by work and being a mom. I experienced serious sleep deprivation. I don’t know where the expression “sleeps like a baby” came from. But if my daughter was an example, then it’s not something anyone should aspire to. As a result, it was impossible for me to find the energy or time to work out. Two years later I had my second child, so there went another year. Fortunately, when my son turned one (he’s now five), I began to sleep again (rejoice!), and I was determined to get back in the saddle. I wanted to feel better, have more energy, and feel fit again.
After being introduced to a trainer four years ago, I got hooked on weight training and have been lifting ever since. I did two bodybuilding shows last year, and this last fall I started working with a coach who programs my training and nutrition. Lifting weights makes me feel physically and mentally strong, as well as fit, focused, and confident. Progressing to heavier and heavier weights makes me feel like I can tackle anything at work and in life. Also, never did I think that my body would adopt an athletic look—not overnight at least. When I started working with my trainer, I jokingly told him to give me Michelle Obama’s arms. But when he increased my weights, I’d tell him that I did not want to look like She-Hulk. I didn’t realize at that time that loading (progressively adding weights) and a good diet were the keys to getting those much coveted arms without looking manly. My goal for this next fall is to do a bodybuilding show in the next age bracket (45+) and improve my performance. Even though some may consider me to be on the “mature” side, I don’t let age be an excuse or barrier that keeps me from taking on new personal challenges.
Protein, greens, and healthier carbs and fat (pics below).
Raw greens with olive oil, chicken breast, and white rice.
Wheat-corn tortilla, avocado, steamed broccoli, and chicken with salsa.
If lifting weights is something you’d like to try, my advice is to pair up with a trainer (even if it’s only for a short period of time) who can advise you on which exercises are most effective for your goal, teach you proper form so you don’t injure yourself, and guide your progress. The most important thing a trainer can do is hold you accountable and give you an extra push on the days you’re not feeling it. Don’t diet on your own or you’ll ruin your metabolism. Find someone with an exercise science or nutrition background who has effectively helped others through natural, healthy transformations. Whatever you’ve been thinking of trying, remember: you can and will succeed, if you can convince your mind.