I suscribe to a few fitness sites/Instas, etc. to help with motivation – I started to this two years ago when my fitness journey really began. So many quotes are about not giving up, about imagining yourself if you don’t quit today, and trying to envision future possibilities. I didn’t really pay much attention to the message in them, I just enjoyed looking at the pictures of badass women flipping tires and wanted to use their musculature as a blueprint for my own. I woke up this morning and stretched, feeling all the muscles in my back. My legs, which have always been big (and powerful), have become super defined and my stomach (always my area of anguish and embarrassment) has abs peaking through and muscle lines I didn’t know existed. This is after a year of sort of committing to fitness, and then a year of committing whole hog to fitness and to eating better. It struck me as I read through a beginner bodyweight workout article on Nerd Fitness (it was the newest post) that I am no longer a beginner. I am not an expert, but damn it I’m fucking competent and am succeeding.
It took a long time for anything exciting to crop up. I could tell I was getting stronger because I tracked my workouts and could see progression in the pounds I was able to push or pull. My stamina also improved, and I could tell that overall things were getting better. It wasn’t until the past few months, when I added in some trail running, that progress turned into visual results. My arms are bursting with muscles, but in a way that looks amazing. My butt is popping and my waist diminishing. It’s so cool. I love what I look like now and, much like the quotes say, can’t wait to see what I look like next year. But more to the point, I discovered that I enjoy fitness just for the sake of it. I think most people who lift weights would be in agreement: it’s a fun, satisfying, and slightly addictive kind of exercise. After years of only wanting to run on the treadmill I am thrilled to have found something that gives a much higher payoff and that I’m actually excited to do every time I walk into the gym.
They shut the gyms here for a four-week circuit breaker because of the omicron variant. Old me, beginner me, would have cried and given up and stayed on the couch for those four weeks, maybe never to return for the rest of the year. New me instead built a program of all the exercises I know that I can do at home with the home gym I’ve built up. It’s not perfect, but I now realize it doesn’t have to be. In a world where stress is everywhere, including in my own home (relationship troubles continue), perfect is an enemy. Sometimes I just want to sweat and lift something heavy off of the ground, and that is good enough.
Not being a beginner means I can recognize moments where it’s okay to take a break and be kind to myself. I can be proud of my achievements and strive for more. I can talk with confidence about my experience and hope to guide others if they ask for help. I can approach different situations with a can-do attitude because if I can lift 300 pounds off of the ground then there is very little that I can’t do. I can see my progress and look forward to more.
I don’t know what to do with my newfound acknowledgement of my status in fitness. Not being a beginner means my expectations are higher and need to be met for my own sanity. The joyful thing is that I can go one day at a time and know that as long as I am willing to pick up the barbell or put on my trail shoes I am doing something worthwhile for myself.