Read the first part here.
This went on for some time, until I realized I had absolutely no muscle tone. I was skinny fat—you know, the person who is thin, but doesn’t put all that much healthy stuff inside. I no longer needed to be fit to be thin. I wanted to be fit for my health.
I signed up for a classes only gym membership; I didn’t have any interest in working out on my own in the weight room or on the cardio machines. I needed someone to tell me what to do. Fortunately, I loved my new workout regimen. I started with Body Pump 2-3 times a week, then added in Step Aerobics and Kickboxing, and finally, Zumba when it came to my gym.
I loved everything about these workouts. Trying to master a new step routine not only made me fit, it was fun! The same went for kickboxing and Zumba. I loved that I was exercising, but I also just loved the comaraderie with my fellow gym-goers, the challenge of a new class, or adding weight to my tracks in Body Pump. I felt strong and healthy–the exact way I wanted to feel from working out.
There were the added benefits of increased muscle tone, too. I didn’t necessarily lose weight, but I looked leaner. I distinctly remember the first day in the spring when I wore shorts to the gym and noticed how toned and slim my thighs looked in the mirror. It was exactly what I had always wanted, but not necessarily something I was working toward. I tend to hate it when people say things happened “organically,” but it really did. Instead of working out to be skinny, I worked out to be fit. I worked out because it made me feel strong and healthy and alive.
Shortly thereafter, some coworkers signed up to run a 10K, and I was feeling very jealous. At the ripe old age of 22, I had been told by doctors that I had a condition called chondromalacia of the patella. In other words, I had worn all of the cartilage out of my knees from running. At the time, I was told I wouldn’t be able to run again. Ever. While disappointed, I was also strangely relieved—like I had gotten off the hook somehow. But that was before. Now, with my coworkers talking about training plans and group runs, I felt left out. I wanted to run, too!
Determined to do it, I decided to try running again. Very slowly, and only a mile or so at a time, I began to build up my stamina. My knees would still bother me from time to time, but keeping a slow pace allowed me to run. I did so with the goal of simply completing my runs—not for time, pace, or distance, but just for me.
Over time, I worked my way up. Two miles turned into four and four turned into six. The more I ran, the more I wanted to run. Just to see. Could I do it? How far could I go? How strong could I get?
Last summer, running became my go-to stress reliever. I didn’t just want to run anymore; I needed to run. I wasn’t training for anything or anyone but me. Running made me feel strong. Accomplished. Powerful. Could I run 8 miles? Yep. 10? Uh huh. And the way I felt afterward? Unparalleled. Like I could do anything. Even when nothing else in my life was going my way, running always made me feel empowered.
Do I always want to workout? Heck, no! Oftentimes my workouts are hard. My lungs are screaming and my muscles are burning and my body wants to quit. I don’t always love getting myself there, but I do love the way I feel afterward. If I miss a workout, of course it’s not the end of the world, but it makes me pretty darn cranky. Not because I didn’t get to exercise, but because I need the release.
So I carve out some time most every day for myself to move. Because I want to. Because I can. Because nothing makes me feel stronger or tougher or better than the accomplishment of a great workout.
Why do you workout?