Exercise doesn't only change weight, it can change your way of life
I read an article recently about a new exercise that helps you develop muscles that you use in everyday life as opposed to building the traditional muscles we typically focus on. As a person who has been engaged in exercise for most of my life, that resonated deeply with me.
Exercise has always been seasonal for me. I’ll work out heavily, lose weight, and get toned, then stop once I hit my goal. A year later, I’ll find myself right back at my ‘before’ weight and have to start the process all over again. In 2022, I talked to a trainer who told me, “You have to keep going, this is a forever thing” and for the last year and a half, I have been consistently working out for 3 -5 days a week.
In 2022, I started with three days. I wanted to learn how to master consistency slowly. Throwing myself in there to do seven days a week every week just wasn’t realistic for me. After a year of consistency, I decided to turn it up a notch. Now, I do five days a week, 40% of my diet is protein (most of the time), and I’ve added more intense strength and cardio training to my routine. As I tone, gain muscle, and slowly slim down, I’ve noticed other changes in my body too - changes only I can see.
1. My back pain is gone.
I used to have this intense lower back pain every day. As a work-from-home girl, sitting in a chair all day at my computer is not great for my body. When I started doing yoga consistently in 2022, I noticed my back pain disappeared and it hasn’t come back since.
2. I can lift my kids up and toss them around
My husband and I always said we wanted to be able to keep up with our kids as they got older. We want to be able to play with them and handle pillow fights without getting winded. Well, now I can lift them up in the air and slam them on the bed without needing an ambulance to carry me out of here.
3. I can carry 36 bags of groceries to the door in one trip.
Yes, I counted the grocery bags that I carried in one trip because if you know, you know. This is a huge accomplishment. Could I go back and take two to three trips to get the groceries into the door? Of course. But being able to carry all of them in at one time is a serious flex.
4. I know how to use my core to reach higher and pull myself up
This one was a surprise to me. When you do yoga and strength training specifically, you work and use your core muscles more than you realize. One day, I was reaching my 5 '6 arms to get a glass from the top shelf in the kitchen and I was able to activate my core muscles to stretch my body and grab the glass. I was impressed and it made me want to try it more to see how else my core could help me in grabbing things.
5. I can run to catch the train or bus without collapsing
I took a trip to New York recently and had to run to catch the train a couple of times. I used to get winded when I walked upstairs but because my endurance has increased, I can run to catch the train, control my breathing, and focus on my stride.
6. I can put twists in my hair without dying because my arms are stronger.
Listen. If you do your hair for longer than two minutes, you know how much your arms hurt while trying to do a twist or a braid or simply straighten it. I have locs currently and trying to style my hair or twist them to get a curly look later kills my arms. I won’t lie, it is still hard, but because I’m used to lifting weights and enduring, I can do it without dying.
7. I can carry all 19 of the notebooks I bought from Ross in my arms and even when it burns a little, I keep walking until I get inside.
This is similar to the groceries but a little different because when carrying notebooks, I’m using different muscles than when I’m carrying groceries. Don’t ask me why I was carrying 19 notebooks in my hand and not in a bag but the point is, my biceps and triceps kept them up and not on the ground.
8. My sex position game is on. point.
Well. I didn’t want to go there but let’s just be adults about this. When engaging in sexy activities, there is an opportunity to hold certain poses for a long time or move your body in a way that gets you the most pleasure. Since doing yoga and cardio, I’ve been able to hold such positions and stay a little longer than I used to. Both my husband and I are happy about that.
9. I can bend over to pick up toys or trash or laundry and it feels good. Like a standing split or deadlift.
Picking up toys is literally my everyday life. We’re getting to the point where my kids clean up after themselves every day but there are those rare times I leave them home with my husband and he “forgets” to ask them to clean up. Deadlifts are my favorite exercise because they work your thighs and butt. Because I do them so often, bending over to pick things up feels natural and good.
10. I can get off the bed or couch without grunting, sometimes.
As a 30-something, making noises when you rise from a couch or bed is just inevitable. But I will say, exercising and working out has implored me to notice what muscles I’m using to get myself up. As I notice, I try to shift my weight into the muscles I’m building. It helps me get up a lot easier AND I am continuing to work on those muscles even when I’m not working out. It’s a win-win situation.
This is a bonus, but I think the biggest gift working out has given me is my mindset. When I’m lifting or walking on the treadmill - something I hate, I have to push myself to keep going. I push myself to try. My thought process is, if I cheat myself and don’t complete the exercise, I’m not pushing myself closer to the goal, I’m staying in the same place. I’m not happy in the same place, I want to excel and evolve. I want to be strong.
This discipline has carried over to other areas of my life as well - my work, my creativity, and my family. As I train my body, I am also training my mind to find new ways of working and new ways to be strong. It’s a fun game that gets me closer to every single goal I have.