The Floodgates

Ever since writing my tired ramble last night, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about things I want to write about. Like I said in my intro on social media, writing has always been my default medium of mental decluttering. I used to write in journals. I used to write letters. I still send cards and letters to people, but there’s something super therapeutic about just letting my fingers paint the picture I see in my head and not giving a flying fuck about how it comes out or even being conscious of who the audience could be. I’m definitely not expecting a wide audience for this blog because I don’t have an area of focus. I’m not just delving into my fitness lifestyle, or my love of food, or the places I’ve been or want to go, or things that really grind my gears. This is purely for me to get all the thoughts that flit across my mind out in the open so I have more space for the next batch. The floodgates have opened and I’m excited to get to writing. So today’s post is actually going to be about fitness lol, and my long and inconsistent relationship with sweating out everything within.

I started going to Dalplex back in high school, literally once in a blue moon. Mama has been teaching classes there since about 3 years after Daddy died. It was her healthy way of dealing with grief and loss and life continuing to go on when you feel like you’re betraying those who aren’t moving on with you. She’s a total introvert and is much happier spending her days in solitude and recharging from daily interactions with people. But when she steps up to the front of the class and puts her music on, she transforms into one of the most charismatic humans I’ve ever seen. She is a natural leader, and seeing how confident and enthusiastic she is about her classes and attendees is surreal if you know Mama’s distaste for being social at all haha. I don’t think I could ever get up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk them through an intense workout, without missing a beat. I don’t even like being in the front row of any class, the less attention on me the better. But this is one of the many areas she shines. She’s always taught Step and Body Trim at Dal. She’s also taught these at other gyms like The Mount, and recently she decided to take on Spin too. Going to her Body Trim and Step on Saturday mornings was pure torture, and she had no qualms about calling me out in front of everyone because she knew I could put more effort in, or because my form was shit, etc. So I would go once and spend 2 days after in agony, finding muscles aching that I didn’t even know I had. After high school I got a little more serious about it and starting running the track there. From my first run I was hooked. Runner’s high is a real phenomenon and there is nothing else quite like it for me. I’ve been a smoker for 17 years now so my charred lungs struggle with every breath (gasp more accurately), but I feel so free. So amazed that our bodies were designed for the basic instinct to lift our feet and propel into motion. I started with endurance runs where I maintain a steady pace after a walk/run program, and it’s evolved into pure ecstasy sprinting. I used to end my runs on the track with a burst of however fast I could pump my short stumps for a quarter mile, and I really fell in love with sprints when I started training for a fitness show in 2014. Now I aim to do sprints every day when I’m on the wagon, and every second or third day when I’ve fallen off and am trying to get back up.

I used to go to Nubody’s in Clayton Park, the all women’s location. I went with Alison fairly consistently for a few months before college I think, and then as always lost sight of the wagon and sat down to just smoke and laze in the dust. I joined again when it was taken over by GoodLife. Still have my membership now and some months I get loads of satisfaction from my biweekly fees, and some months I’m just throwing money away because I don’t feel like going. I’m definitely one of those people that loses interest in things quite fast. It isn’t just fitness that this happens with either. It’s books and art projects and places and things and sometimes people I’m slightly ashamed to admit. I have a bad habit of falling in love with an idea, starting it and throwing myself into it, getting bored and then dropping it for a while, if not forever.

motivation-is-like-bathing

Isn’t that the truth. Motivation doesn’t last. You can get your initial kick start by someone or something, but it requires constant attention just like anything that’s worthwhile. And sometimes I just can’t find the motivation. So I slack off and then get inspired again and wonder why I ever stopped. It’s SO hard to get back on track when you’ve fallen away from exercising. Which logically makes no sense. You feel energetic, you feel healthy and happy, you hit goals and look good and feel good and become addicted to the rush of seeing hard work paying off. So why is it hard to go back to when there is nothing but good that comes of it? Personally I think it’s daunting to go back into a routine or headspace that you’ve dropped because it feels like you’re admitting defeat where there really isn’t any. You “could have been so much farther, stronger, leaner, etc” and all those other bonuses that come from the regimen. “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up”. Yeah. Thanks for that bit of wisdom, that instantly made me want to stop making excuses and hit the gym hard. NOT. If I wanna give up, I’m gonna give up and I’m gonna do the best job of that you’ve ever seen. And shut up when I decide to pick it back up, saying “Don’t you wish you’d never stopped?” Duh. No one willingly decides they’re going to go balls out with the gym and eat well and then just put the brakes on out of nowhere so that they can turn around and try to pick back up where they left off after an indeterminable amount of time. That’s the point. You don’t WANT to pick it back up where you left off. You want to start brand new. And it sucks knowing that you’ve added a little extra time to your goals, and that it’s an uphill battle regardless of how consistent you stay. Some people can stay super strict with it, never deterring from their workout schedule and never eating “off plan”.

That just isn’t me, never has been and never will be. I love food, all of it. I love healthy snacks like veggies and dip and rice cakes. But I LOVE burgers. Pasta. Pizza. And fries. Really potatoes cooked any way gives me a rush I imagine a crackhead gets with their fix. I love ice cream even though I’m lactose intolerant. I love candy, and chocolate and chips and salty and sugary goodness in many forms. I need all of these things. I don’t just view food as fuel because I have a relationship with my appetite. I thoroughly enjoy eating. I’m not a caveman. My concern isn’t getting as much into me as possible because who knows when my next meal will be, and my tribe is migrating and we have babies to make and mammoths to kill and whatever else they did before fast food, grocery stores and technology. We are in a day and age and country where food is accessible. All the time. All different kinds. So if I get pleasure from that piece of cheesecake, leave me to my indulgence. If you don’t agree, that is fine by me. By no means am I judging people who genuinely enjoy clean eating all the time and the paleo life and low carbs/no carbs. But I am not one of those people. Food isn’t a punishment in my mind, therefore I eat what I want and have no shame in my game. I admire the people who are able to live that strict lifestyle and genuinely love it, who don’t view it as torture the way I do. But those people are few and far between, which is why extreme diets don’t work for the average person. My personal view is that if I feel like I’m depriving myself, what on earth is the point? I need balance. That means cupcakes when I want them, salads when I crave some greens. It means not feeling guilty about how many calories are in the treat that I love. It means not being miserable and jealous of the foodies around me enjoying meals I won’t allow myself to touch because it’s not on my plan. This is one of the main reasons why I doubt I’ll ever do a show again. I was in the best shape of my life but I ate ice cream constantly through my prep. I actually found my best friend Brit through this contest prep, because she loves food as much as I do. She didn’t take it seriously either because it wasn’t about placing or being better than anyone else on stage. We both had the same mentality that it was going to be fun to see what we could do with our bodies while still enjoying most of our usual foods. We didn’t get first or even second callouts. And we didn’t care in the least because we looked great, felt great and had a blast doing the prep. And didn’t gain 20 lbs the weeks after the show trying to reintroduce foods that weren’t “on plan” to our bodies. We spent the whole prep balancing our moderations with clean foods. But most people who step on stage master the ability to turn off that switch inside that makes cravings impossible to ignore. They have their end results and focus solely on making it happen, and sometimes it’s extreme. And unhealthy. And generally unrealistic to maintain for any extended period of time.

I digress. I will prob make a long post about competing and my experiences at some point. Today’s point is actual gym stuffs. Back to exercise. With the contest prep, I got a “customized” workout plan. And I loved it! I had so much fun learning new exercises and making variations and getting stronger. Watching my muscles grow. But once the contest was over, there went my motivation. I’m consistent about working out when I’m in camp for work because it’s part of my routine. It starts my days off on a happy note, keeps me in shape for my job, and all around is my happy place. But being home and recovering from surgery, being miserable unable to find work where I wanted to be, and just being blah in general meant I wasn’t consistent with workouts cause I didn’t really have a goal. When I moved from Halifax I didn’t go to the gym for almost 8 weeks. Which is a longgggg time for this cat. My moods were awful, I was feeling gross and frumpy, and my days didn’t serve any real purpose. It took me a long time to gather up the nerve to “start all over again”. But that’s how I do things. I need to find a new reason for it, a new goal. If I don’t create a new aim after I’ve reached the last one, I run out of steam and inspiration. Sometimes it’s inspiring to scroll through Instagram and look at the progress of accounts I follow. Sometimes it makes me super cranky cause photoshop has taken over, or people shout out “booty enlarging cream” & “squat challenges” with their bums fresh from surgery. I have no issues with plastic surgery, having done it myself. Not for the booty though cause I’ve got my mama’s natural bubble butt and it’s also possible to build bigger glutes going to the gym. Go figure huh? It just bugs me when people aren’t honest. If getting glute implants makes you feel good, kudos to you and let that baby rock! But please don’t turn around and promote some bullshit challenge or ebook when clearly that’s not what got you that voluptuous behind. So basically the last 8 weeks weren’t bringing motivation from Insta. I couldn’t even make myself just go for one run, regardless of knowing how happy I would be afterwards. Motivation is a fickle creature, and it can be so fleeting too. Ever get super pumped about something at night, thinking “Wow this is going to be amazing, I can’t wait to start tomorrow and see how far it goes”?  And then morning comes and you just can’t bring yourself to do it? If you say you haven’t, I’m calling bullshit lol. But there are also times where you have those same thoughts and actually wake up and make it happen. Excuses and distractions can be as strong as will power, and I think that sometimes you just hit your limit with them and say “Fuck it, might as well just do it and if I hate it I can leave”. 9 times out of 10 when you finally get there and make it happen, you don’t want to leave. It can take 21 days to form a habit if you’re super inclined, and up to 66 days on average. But once you do it once, you’re more likely to do it again, until you don’t even realize it’s become part of your routine. I think it’s trial and error. And a lucky mix of finding something that holds your attention long enough to form the habit you’re aiming for. Getting in shape for an upcoming trip is an amazing way to get motivated. Wanting to be able to walk up x number of flights of stairs without getting winded is a wicked goal. Wanting to see bicep muscles having never had them, but always admiring them on others works. There are SO many big and small reasons that people want to get to the gym. Sometimes the gym is your church as they say. You manifest all your prayers and confessions and tragedies and hopes and heartbreaks into the reps and beads of sweat dripping from you. Each set is an absolution and you find strength in your perseverance. Or maybe it’s not that deep and you just like throwing weights around. Doesn’t really matter what gets you in the door, it’s just easier to follow through on when it’s something that keeps you coming back for more. If you hit one goal, set a new one. Constantly find reasons to go in and sweat it out and you’ll never disappoint yourself cause you’ll never stop growing.

My new motivation is my scuba course. I’ve decided to tailor my workouts around the primary muscles used doing scuba, to improve my skills and keep me fit in the areas required for comfortable diving. It probably sounds weird, but I research things non stop. I’m always curious about stuff and I google everything that comes to mind. So when Geoff and I signed up for our course (which starts next week, YAY!) I started thinking about how I would need to be fairly strong in some areas to fatigue less quickly underwater and wanted to know what the major areas of concern were. I’ve been looking for something that overrides my current inclination to keep putting off the first workout after my hiatus, and here it is. I found a purpose for my renewed interest in fitness that is actually going to help another goal I’ve had. Two birds stoned at once as Geoff would say 😉

This is long. They’re all going to be long. The floodgates are open for writing and gyming, I feel like I’m coming alive again. I have a goal to work towards while I impatiently await the response from any of the companies trying to pronounce my name on my resume. I will get a call one of these days, and I’ll be killing time in the gym til it comes.

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