Fitness for me is not a fad. It is for survival. I have tried life without it, and life with it, and I can unanimously confirm that I function better as a human being when I exercise.
Kids, if you don’t want Mom to stomp around the house yelling like a two-headed dragon, breathing fire and all…. Let her go workout.
Taking an hour out of my day sometimes feels like it is counterproductive, placing more pressure on me as then I have less time for my enormous TO DO list. But, ironically, I find it actually gives me more time. I am more focused, my head is clearer, and I have more energy. I am calmer and subsequently more productive. Leigh at work will attest to that. She can tell as soon as I have walked into the office if I have done Pilates or gym that morning or not. But during those very stressful pressurised times with inflexible work deadlines, inconvenient school projects and never-ending chores, trying to squeeze in a workout feels damn near impossible, and yes, I will admit it, guilty. Guilty for trying to put me first.
I have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t take that time for me in the mornings, I won’t have another opportunity that day, and by late afternoon I have resorted to screeching like a banshee to survive, then feeling guilty for not being a calm happy Mommy. I looked up what a Banshee it as I use the term all the time. It refers to an Irish legend of a female spirit whose wailing warns of a death in the house. Pretty spot on I’d say.
The motivation to get out of bed or off the couch is tough. It can feel overwhelming if you haven’t exercised in a long time or even if you have just taken some time out during the holidays. But overall the past 3 years have been the most consistent I have ever been with my fitness (give or take a few blips here and there) and here’s why:
# 1 Learn from the professionals
When I started, I teamed up with a friend. We shared a personal trainer, Tyrone, and he got us going. It is hard to flake out when you are meeting your buddy and more importantly paying for that session. Shireen would rather die that waste money. (Accountants for you).
# 2 Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
Same goes for working out. If you are shloomping around the house in your pj’s and bunny slippers you won’t feel like going to the gym, you will feel like crawling back into bed to binge watch a series. No no no.
Get up and get dressed in your lycra. Just do it. It will put you in the right frame of mind for what you want to do, which is go to the gym. Don’t get caught in the trap of having to have the right length tights, the coolest thermal, breathable, stretch fabric, compression, extra support, padded top. Just sommer get a T from Pick ‘n Pay clothing to start. Tell yourself if you make it to the gym 3 times a week for the next month that then you can go get a super awesome top from Cotton On. You will eventually get to that point when you are swanning around Hillcrest in your active-wear. It happens.
# 3 Show up
In between the PT sessions, I said to myself “Just show up. Just get to the gym”. Easier said than done if you know the Kloof Virgin Active and the parking saga. You manage to get out of bed, in the car, fought school traffic to get to the gym, and all in vain as you spend the next 25 minutes trying to find a bloody parking. (See Never Skip Mondays for my theory on the Aqua Gals hogging parkings) Lord forbid you have to park all the way over at the Spar centre and walk over to the gym. Seriously. By that stage you have missed the class and are now walking around the gym wondering what to do. The point here is that things will try and get in your way. Traffic, bad weather, no parking, forgot your gym towel etc. But don’t let those be excuses. Leave earlier. Pack the night before. Just go park in the Spar centre next door for gods sake. Just show up. Just jump on the treadmill or the bike for 10 minutes. No one is going to judge you. Well maybe they might be snickering “Did you see that chick? She just arrived at the gym, walked for 5min and left. WTF?” So what? You showed up. Keep doing that every day and soon you will start to form a habit.
# 4 Plan ahead
Once you have gotten into the habit of going to the gym, you need to plan a workout. If you don’t have a good idea of what you will be doing when you get there, you will most likely feel like a lost fart cruising around the circuit area, then the machines (thinking how on earth to you even get into that machine?), then the free weights section(and get all intimidated by the beefcakes in their teeny shirts), get all confused, overwhelmed and then leave or go sit in the steam room. Or you would have had you thought ahead and packed a costume and a towel. (I speak from personal experience there).
Have a plan.
Even if your plan says Treadmill 20min, bike 20min, stepper 10min. Cool down stretches.
I enjoy going to classes but there are times when the kids have put on their best sloth impersonations to the tune of me yelling “Let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go” and, between trying to find shoes, and a snack, and peeing, we have left late, like really late and missed the class. Then of course there is the drop off saga at Kids V club. Any other time I am just a doormat, a butler, a cook, a cleaner but as soon as I drop them at the kids club, they put on their best puppy dog eyes, glistening tears, and sob for me like they think I am dropping them off at the SPCA to be rehoused. They cry, and cling to me, crawl on my lap. I finally hear the words “but Mommy I love you” just at the moment I want to do a “drop and run”. Don’t believe them. They are trained in the art of guilt-enforcement. Just like a band-aid, you have to tear them off quickly, its hurts only for a moment, and then run like hell. Consider it your warm up. Don’t even go to the ladies change rooms in case they see you come out again. And I promise, 30 seconds after that they are jolling around playing Simon Says or tag. Like I said earlier there will be challenges. Lots.
Lastly but most importantly, if you want to maintain your fitness regime, you need to buddy up and find some #fitfriends. Create a whatsapp group and keep each other motivated. If you have planned to meet up for a run or a class or to workout in the weights section, you are less likely to bail if you have said you would be there. You don’t want to be THAT flaky friend who let the team down.
We are social creatures by nature so when you add in the social element and get a group of like-minded peeps together you will be more motivated and commitment to your fitness goals.
This is a shout out to my special #FitFriends. Like I mentioned above, the last few years have been the longest, most consistent I have been with fitness and the benefits for me have been numerous. Not only from a physical and mental point of view but from a friendship point of view. From Reen who kickstarted this all with me (and who has moved on to conquering the trail running word – so proud hun), to Michelle and Lisa who used to join me for Pump classes at the Kloof gym, to Shaz who has been by my side for 2 fabulous Women’s Health Fit Night Out weekends and a very tough Jump City Challenge and to Vicky, my Hardcore Pilates instructor, who helped me find my love and passion for Pilates. And of course my #FitFriends Estelle and Kimmy. Estelle brought the fun, created the photos, and was the inspiration behind the now famous “Estelle is here” phrase which usually occurs around 40min into the session when we feel faint and need to sit for a moment.
And then there is the Wonder Woman that is Kimmy. For most of last year I was blessed with my very own drill sergeant, sorry um I meant to say personal trainer, who is for all intents and purposes a professional (just needs the paper), who dressed for the occasion with Wonder Woman tights, who showed up every day, who planned ahead with a different routine, every day, and kept me motivated, every day. Not many people would be able to afford that luxury and you gave it willingly. Thank you, my dear friend. I have learnt so much. I have muscles I didn’t know existed and I have a friendship that will last a lifetime. But now that JHB has claimed you, it is going to be incredibly hard to move on and keep focused. Estelle and I are going to do our best to make you proud.
After struggling to put pen to paper for the last week (which is unusual for me) I wrote this today to say thank you to my #FitFriends for being my female powerhouse, my foundation and fitspiration; to say goodbye to our special Kimmy, and finally to remind myself how I started this journey, take my own advice and keep motivated. Keep moving.
Wake up. Work out.
Your fitness motivation, perfectly sorted.