Wellness First, Then Fitness
I've decided to revisit this article I wrote from a couple of years ago to see if I still feel the same way now as I did then about the topic . . . so here goes!
I’ve recently been inspired by the world of “general fitness”. What I mean by that is, for a few years at a time I was on the Biggest Loser bandwagon, then yoga and most recently CrossFit. Recently, I have come to realize that the key is staying active and eating responsibly. I wholeheartedly believe that too much of anything can be bad for you. Yep, you’ve heard me say it and it applies to all aspects of our lives.
I do owe a lot of where I am today to BL though — Jillian and Bob got me through some of the hardest parts of starting a consistent workout regimen. You really feel like a weenie when a 5# dumbbell is kicking your butt. The self-shaming was out of control. When I first started, I couldn’t do anything. Run a block. Tie my shoes without getting out of breadth. See my nanoo when I was using the bathroom, downward facing dog — forget about it. BL’s workouts were so attainable, scalable and presented in manageable increments of time. I could make room for a 20 minute workout each day in my schedule and I could make room for those workouts in my 237 square foot apartment too. Was I going to get swole in 20 minutes a day, ehhh prolly not but it was better than doing the alternative.
When I first started “being healthier”, I was just 186 pounds at 5’-7”. That certainly didn’t push me over the edge on any chart by any means with a BMI of 29.1 but I was clearly overweight and my body composition was major no bueno — I was definitely unhealthy.
What really appealed to me about yoga was it seemed like everyone that was doing it was skinny and well, I wanted to be skinny too. Skinny means healthier right? So I started with some yoga apps, then yoga at a nearby studio, then hot yoga and then finally settled with Ashtanga yoga for a few years. I’ve come to realize that yoga is not only a workout (it qualifies as “body weight training” by the way), it’s an excellent form of meditation and cardio. Some form of stretching, lengthening of your muscles is essential whether your work out or not and the flow gets your heart pumping on all levels. Yoga allows you to decompress your mind and your body at the same time. Stop sitting all day at work!
Our jobs, our family, our environment all play a role in how we chose to take care of ourselves and what we make time for. If it’s not a priority, no matter how good something is for you — you will not make time for it. For many, it takes injury or sickness to put things into perspective. Why?!
So, once I got bored with Ashtanga, well you know since I was such a badass (Ashtangi are sometimes viewed as the snobs of yoga ha ha ha — we’re just misunderstood!) I started keeping my eye out for the next trend. I never did “get skinny” by the way, but I felt like I was stronger than ever before. And I was. There was consistency in my actions. I showed up to every class and it ran its course. That time I set aside for myself became a priority.
Then, out of convenience one day on lunch, I stopped by a “box” a few doors down from work. I remember coming in and boasting about how awesome I was with Ashtanga and my legs were crazy strong. The coach took it in politely and offered to let me give it a try for a free week to see if it would fit with my commute and work schedule. My starting back squat, all out — legs trembling was a whopping 65#. Today, it’s 217#. I’m proud to say that I’m almost 40 and my ass passes the pencil test. What I learned from CrossFit is that you can really get shit done in an hour. If you are looking for weight loss, to build muscle, improve your cardio — CrossFit aka functional fitness has got you covered.
From CrossFit, I transferred over to Olympic Lifting. The last box I was a member of has an amazing coach that really understands all the components of proper weight training. God, I love lifting heavy shit. I love the power you have to build and harness through weeks of programming, the explosiveness and focus to execute a proper clean, snatch or clean & jerk. Oly also brought me abs. For the first time in my life, I started to see evidence of actual, real abdominal muscles and I wasn’t cranking out crunches on the daily.
As much as I loved Oly, it came with a price. As some of you may know, a monthly, unlimited box membership can run anywhere from $145 to $210 per month. Due to life circumstances outside of my control, I was strongly encouraged to find a source for my fix elsewhere. Trust me, I gave up manicures, pedicures, haircuts before the box membership got cut. I’m now a member of a big chain “luxury” fitness facility for half the cost per month.
Funny thing is, what appealed to me now about my new gym was light-years ahead of what my frame of thinking was years ago — yep, this is my 2nd round of membership at the same gym and I canceled the first time because “all they had was cardio equipment”. Now, I’m like, “they have 7 squat racks!”. Honestly, they probably had the racks before but I was too intimidated to even consider poking my head on that side of the gym. Plus, I had no clue what to do with that equipment anyway.
So where am I going with all of this? Like I said in the beginning — it about balance and consistency. I’ve learned through the decade plus of experimenting on myself that yogi’s need weight training, spin cycling advocates need yoga and crossfiters need to slow the fuck down. Ha, kidding, but for real, the best thing you can do for yourself is be conscious of your wellbeing. Take care of yourself first.
If you are on medication, talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to get off that medication. Obesity is not an extreme these days — it’s actually far too common for a lot of us. Weight loss can prevent and manage so many aspects of your health. It’s easier to achieve than you think and the payoff is priceless.
If you are constantly tired and no amount of sleep leaves you refreshed — your daily nutrition and activity could be playing a role in that.
“Being healthy”, achieving wellness is not training for a marathon or the Olympics. Wellness, in its most simplest form, is not being sick. Here’s a diagram they showed us in my L1 CrossFit Trainer Course to give you a visual. Fitness is only achieved after being well and as you can see in the chart, the hardest part is the incline from sickness to wellness but after that, you can ride that wave into fitness. Just like me on the curve from Biggest Loser to Olympic Lifting. It’s become easier and easier for me to take on new challenges now that I have made it to the middle point. Still not skinny (ha) but my body composition has greatly improved, I’m strong, proud and confident.
That saying, “you gotta walk first before you run”…m’yeah, couldn’t be more true right?
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
One day or day one? Why not start today?
Coach Ro, Owner of WODeration LLC