Sticking with Exercise Was a Commitment to Myself

It would be foolish to start any kind of long-distance hike without evaluating your physical ability level, and I was fairly certain that my physical ability level was low. I hadn’t really done any kind of exercise since the summer, and even then, workouts were few and far between. I am the head coach (and only coach) of the speech team at my high school so I was staying for practice after school just about every day. When it was time to leave work, I would be tired, hungry, and just want to go home. This (plus not monitoring my eating and drinking) was making me sluggish; exercising was usually the farthest thing from my mind. Also, it was dark and cold between 4 and 4:30 because of winter. Those two factors didn’t help my motivation.

The burning question was, “How much training did I actually need?” I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into. I had completed 20-mile hikes before, and I had also hiked in the mountains of Colorado and California. However, I hadn’t taken exercise seriously in a while, and it showed.  My shirts were getting tight in the midsection, I had gone up a belt notch, and my pants were snug altogether.

exercise tree

This picture is here because I like it.

Time to Get Fit

The solution seemed obvious: make a schedule. So I did. I listed  what I should do on each day, being very specific with the type of exercise, sets, and reps. The schedule was so detailed it even included the time I would exercise, which I thought would keep me on track. Obviously, I was ready to begin, but I didn’t. In fact, I think I looked at that schedule twice.

February was quickly approaching. I was at 255 pounds and had the stamina to exercise for about ten seconds. Scheduling myself, or forcing myself, to exercise was not working. All in all, I wanted the big reward; to be healthier, more active, and to not have to buy new clothes in bigger sizes. I wanted this reward, but I didn’t want the struggle that came with it. I needed to decide if the struggle was going to be worth my “precious time” that I was spending watching more backpacking videos on YouTube. In reality, I was letting my fears get the best of me. There were a lot of things that I was deciding to do alone, and this was just one more.

Instead of going at it alone, I decided to seek help… professional help. I made an appointment with a trainer. Being accountable to someone else felt like the catalyst I needed to jump-start my training. I had a test session with my trainer and he was very positive, helpful, and friendly. We went through a lot of exercises I hadn’t ever done: using ropes, a slam ball, and kettlebells to name a few. The workout kicked my ass; I was so sore, winded, and sweaty that I felt like death was upon me. At the end of the workout he asked if I was interested in signing up for more sessions, and I told him I needed to check my schedule and get back to him. My legs were so weak I could barely get down the stairs. On the drive home I decided that this was too much, I wasn’t going to be able to do it, and I should just try to do it on my own.

exercise river

The road, or river, to success.

Time for Commitment

The next day I was sore, and any movement involving my legs was painful. I was thinking about the workout I did with my trainer and questioning if I would do a workout like that on my own. The problem is, once again, that I wasn’t being honest with myself. I thought being accountable to a trainer would motivate me, but I didn’t need to make a commitment to someone else. I needed to make a commitment to myself. The only way to get better and get what I wanted was to keep doing it. So I signed up for more sessions, started paying more attention to my nutrition, and kept working out on my own.

It’s only been a few weeks, and not much has changed physically, but mentally I feel a lot better. There is a satisfaction that comes with doing something for yourself, and I am trying to ride that satisfaction. The last time I saw my trainer he said that it seemed like I was making myself more of a priority. This is progress that makes me proud.

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