I’ve had my own issues with struggling to find a balance with fitness. When I was severely anorexic, I’d workout up to eight times a day. I felt that any free time I had must be spent exercising, as that is how people got results. When I recovered I reduced my weightlifting days to four times a week, with two days for cardio. Nowadays I prioritize my downtime because I learned that real muscle growth happens during rest.
I still struggle with the compulsion to exercise. I’ve always had the firm belief that the human body isn’t meant to sit around all day doing nothing, much like the mind shouldn’t be focused on social media for eight hours a day. The belief can sometimes lead my thinking awry because I equate productivity with success. Which is not always true. To keep a balance I tell myself that I weightlift because I eat, I eat because I weightlift, and I need rest to get the muscles. On my cardio days I focus on how well I feel that day, and think of my goal cycling mileage for the week.
That is it actually. Goals, whatever they may be, cannot be rushed. Instead a person must enjoy the journey and take it one day at a time. Eventually, a person will look back to see how far she has come.
It is tempting to start going full-speed into fitness. At the beginning of the process, a person is full of motivation and feels like he or she wants to accomplish as much as possible. Motivation can be fun and useful. However, going from poor diet and exercise and doing a complete 180 may not set up success. Research has shown that small changes done over a period of time leads to long-lasting results. In the period where there is an abundance of motivation, it would be best to use that time to set habits and goals that discipline can be used on. Habits and consistency are what gives results. I had to change my routine to get better results, and I started out slow and easy. I didn’t want to hinder my recovery from anorexia.
I have made immense progress eating more and exercising less, which when I was severely anorexic didn’t make sense to me. I could not fathom such a thing. I would eat less, less, less, and exercise more, more, more. The imbalance cost me a lot of physical progress. Once I chose to work towards recovery, it clicked. Food became fuel for me. Food was a bit less of an enemy. Exercise became something that was because of the food. And vice versa. I began to slow down a little and create a sensible exercise regime with an appropriate calorie amount. Since that decision, my muscle growth exploded.
Today I ran into some gym buddies I haven’t seen in months, since when I first started recovery. Keep in mind these are older experienced bodybuilders, while I am a twenty year old girl. (I always felt the outcast) Today they saw me for the first time in seven months and their jaws dropped. One of them said “Damn you got ripped.” Hands down the best compliment.
Taking the fitness journey easy, being chill, definitely keeps me sane too. Since I am no longer tearing myself apart with imbalances, I can enjoy other aspects of my life more. It’s easy to make fitness the biggest priority in life, and that any chance of happiness is tied to results with fitness. With that logic a person is guaranteed to live a hard life. Happiness and sanity cannot be tied to any sole thing. A person is worth far much more than his or her body.
When feeling rushed to go to extreme measures with diet or exercise, keep in mind it is called a “fitness journey” for a reason. Not a “fitness race.” I remember one of my friends my once told me “May peace be the journey.” And I try to live by that.
So little by little I work towards improving my fitness and mental health. It’s all about consistency. And don’t forget to enjoy it on the way.