fitness idols and why it’s okay to be your own motivation.

What an epic week it’s been, ladies and gentlemen.  After hopping over to Dallas for a bit for work, I landed in Chicago for a little more work and then some play time with 13 of my best friends from college.  If you haven’t had a chance to go to Chicago, you are missing out.  I was lucky enough to be born and raised there, so it will always have a special place in my heart and I love showing it off to anyone who wants a good tour. 

My mini-vacation was very active involving at least 26,000 steps a day (you’re the real MVP, Jawbone Up), two soulcycle classes, yoga in Millennium Park and a 5 mile run.  So, my fitness definitely didn’t take a backseat.  I did have deep dish for every dinner possible, so, you know, balance.
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I am very aware that I was the only one on the trip to make a concerted effort to get up at 7:30 am to get a workout in after some of our later nights, but that’s just something that I do.  It comes with the territory of knowing me.  I don’t lack in the motivation department that’s for sure, but I’m also hyper aware I’m in the vast minority over here. Most people I know turn to other sources for motivation.

My dad is very intrinsically motivated too, but when I got him a Jawbone Up for Christmas one year, he put the pedal to the metal and 10,000 steps minimum was not just a daily goal but a daily requirement.  One of my other friends is motivated by signing up for classes instead of hitting the gym on her own time. Others I know find motivation through social media and following those who post about their own journeys.

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I, personally, love learning about what other people have done and are doing in terms of their fitness when I need that extra oomph.  Nothing motivates me quite like scrolling through Instagram and reading about other people crushing their workouts when I really don’t want to go.  But, I always take it with a grain of salt.  Remember that the people whose days your reading about are often only presenting the good parts.  They don’t always show a picture of them struggling to get motivation themselves, having a meal where they got uncomfortably full while celebrating a good friend’s birthday, or just having a bad life hair day.  A lot of the times, the more celebrity a person is, the less personal they come off.  And while that can be great for motivation, it’s not entirely accurate.

I’ll be the first to tell you, there are going to be days when you don’t want to workout.  I defy you to find me a person who has not felt this way.  But you know what, on those days you have two choices: dust off your bootstraps and get to steppin’ or take a mental health day and just do you.  Contrary to popular belief, not every workout has to be the best workout you’ve ever had and that’s okay and normal!  But that’s not necessarily what every page would have you believe.

I have actually started to unfollow some bigger accounts in favor of smaller ones because I’m kind of sick of looking at perfectly styled clothes and immaculately coifed hair in pictures with the caption “just killed my workout”.  Granted, I suppose you could look like that after an insanely hard session, but the odds of you looking like a sweaty mongrel are slightly higher and that’s just what I want to see.  I want to see people like me who are just trying to better themselves and not always trying to get the latest endorsement deal or make a boatload of money from taking pretty pictures.

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Next time you need a little push, think about how far you yourself have come instead of turning to a perfectly curated page of fitness glory.  Even if you’re just starting to hit the gym, give yourself a damn pat on the back for all the times you’ve done something to better yourself.  Maybe you can jog a mile quicker than when you started.  Maybe you don’t feel as out of breath when you’re on the bike.  Maybe you can pick up heavier weights today than yesterday.  The progress will come and you will be proud of it, I promise.  But know that at the end of the day, you and you alone are the one who is bettering themselves and that’s pretty awesome.

-sj

you get out what you put in. why practice makes perfect in fitness.

While fitness makes up a good portion of my interests today, that hasn’t always been the case.  I’ve touched on me being a music major before only briefly, but it’s a big part of my past.  I went on a pretty cathartic walk this weekend in my favorite forest preserve and it got me thinking: music and fitness aren’t all that different.  If I want to reach my goals, I just have to use similar tactics.

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There were many parallels I found between singing and exercise. There were physical limitations to both.  I could only sing so many hours in a day before my voice gave out and I could only workout for so long until the work became more detrimental.  Both rely on rhythm for success whether it be the cadence of your run, the tempo at which you’re lifting weights or beats in the music that allow the singer to convey a specific emotion.  The most important similarity between them to me is that you get out what you put in.

I’m here to drop a truth bomb: if you workout regularly and you eat right, you’re going to see results.  Yes, there are exceptions to every rule and you may think you are one, but before you go telling me I’m wrong tell me you have actually adhered to every single guideline placed in front of you and never strayed.  The unfortunate fact of it all is that we’re human and this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but fitness, like studying music, thrives on consistency.  If you practice your scales everyday, you will eventually nail them.  It just takes time and patience.  The more you practice and work towards your goals, the better you’ll get.

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It’s just that time and patience thing that gets us when we’re talking about fitness.  We want it now.  We want to be better, be stronger, be faster, be fitter, but we’re not willing to put our time in to do it.  A great pianist does not get to be great by sitting down at the keyboard three times a week and only playing the easy pieces.  Just as the professional bodybuilder does not get in shape by working out occasionally while eating the cheapest, fastest food available to them.

This isn’t something new.  It’s just fact.  In college, they used to harp on us “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”.  And you know what?  They weren’t wrong. Focus on your form when you’re working out to make sure you’re doing things the right way that are going to benefit you the most.  Do your research.

But they “perfect practice” people weren’t entirely right.  You have to play those wrong notes and have those kind of sucky workouts to know what to change to get better.  We learn from our failures and the quickest way to find out how to do something right, is *spoiler alert* to do it wrong first. Don’t be afraid to fail or to try new things.  If every musician who ever missed a note quit after, we’d live in a pretty silent world.  And if no one tried new things with composition, there’d be a lot more organ music around and a little less Britney Spears.

So, my main take aways from what my walk taught me.  Whether it be singing, fitness, or something else entirely: you get out what you put in.  Work for what you want.  You can never really get it unless you try.

 

-sj