Happy Wednesday! Thought it was about time I give you guys an update. For those who don’t follow along on instagram, I am proud to say I completed my #MayChallenge. That’s right. I went to the gym (or did some sort of workout) every.single.day in May. And now a few weeks later, I thought I would share some things I learned:
1. If you remove the choice, going to the gym becomes a lot easier.
I’ve blogged a bit about motivation before. How many times have you planned to workout, but told yourself you were too tired/busy and would go tomorrow instead? Or that dreaded “I’ll start on Monday?” Except that you don’t go tomorrow or Monday.
By removing the choice of whether or not you’re going to workout, all of life’s excuses go out the window.
2. It doesn’t matter how busy I am, if I make something a priority, I’ll find the time.
Speaking of life’s excuses, how many times have you told yourself there is just no way you have time to workout? I know I’ve used this excuse many times. I wake up at 5am for work, so I totally get it. But we’ve all got the same exact 24 hours in a day. We choose how to fill them. Everyone is going to have different priorities. Yours might be going to work, picking up the kids, spending time with your family etc. And those are perfectly wonderful priorities.
But what if you said that one of your priorities was spending 30 minutes each day working out? Just like you find time to brush your teeth, I bet you could squeeze in a quick workout.
One day in particular, I knew I was going to have a tough time. I woke up at 5am like usual, rushed to work all day, then rushed to an appointment. By the time I got home it was after 10pm, a full hour past my bedtime and I hadn’t even eaten dinner yet. I could have thrown in the towel and said forget today. But I didn’t.
I threw my yoga mat down in my living room and completed a quick 15 minute ab routine using an app on my phone called PumpUp. It wasn’t the perfect workout, but it was a lot better than none at all.
3. Weight lifting will do more to change your body than 100s of hours of cardio
During the month of May I only lost about 2 lbs., which isn’t bad considering most people recommend losing about 2 lbs. per week. But I can be honest in saying I was a bit disappointed. Especially because back in January when I first started doing Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide the weight (and my clothes) had been falling off.
When I was complaining to Jake, he really opened my eyes. He said, “Well you look completely different!” And he’s right. For the first time in my life I can say I really love the way my legs look. So much in fact that I bought my first pair of Nike Pro shorts….and then bought a second pair!
There is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Cardio is great for cardiovascular health. It will also help with weight loss. But if you only do cardio, you will still look like you do now, just smaller.
That “toned” look comes from first building up your muscles underneath, then melting the fat away. And the only way to build up your muscles is through lifting weights. And not wimpy 5 lbs dumbbells. I’ve written a whole post on this before. Please don’t lift weights lighter than your purse.
4. Rest days aren’t always necessary, but proper warm ups and stretching are.
You might have thought I was crazy or unhealthy to workout every day. But honestly, I don’t think rest days are necessary. Yes, your muscles need to recover, but they can do that while you sleep at night. Plus if you’re super sore, sometimes working out can actually make the pain a lot better.
However, I learned the hard way that a good warm up and stretching routine are very necessary. There were a few times when I jumped straight into a hard workout without warming up because I was short on time. Big mistake. And my body let me know. The same goes for stretching afterwards. A few weeks into the challenge my left hamstring started popping during squats. I was very lucky that after a quick trip to the physical therapist I learned that I could fix this by foam rolling and stretching my IT band (and strengthening my outer thigh). If you’re going to workout every day, make sure to fit in time for stretching, even if it’s while brushing your teeth at night.
5. Having a buddy to support and motivate you is very helpful
And finally, what was most important in helping me complete my May Challenge was my friend Lauren. I cannot tell you the amount of times I so didn’t want to workout, but seeing Lauren “check-in” on Instagram saying she finished her workout for the day was the best motivation. No way was I going to let her down.
Jake was another huge motivator. There was one day when we were sitting on the couch and he straight up said, “You’re not a quitter. Go to the gym. Now.”
So now what? For the last few weeks I’ve taken a break from the gym. And I can already notice a difference in my mood. Jake has been kindly suggesting that maybe I should go to the gym because I used to be a lot happier.
And he’s right. Starting June 29th I’ll be back at the gym, every day. July will be a lot harder than May. It’s filled with two weddings, a music festival, a sail boat race, and moving apartments. But sometimes the days you want to workout the least are the days you need to workout the most.