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11/23/2011

there'll come a day

After a week away from the gym and then a week finding myself back in the gym, I've realized that I need to push myself even harder. I need to not become comfortable with the gym. I need to constantly push myself to run faster, bike harder, and lift heavier.

The gym still intimidates me. When I first started this journey, it terrified me. I felt out of place and as though I would never belong. I wasn't thin or tan or fit or pretty or anything that I thought the other people in the gym were. And even though the gym intimidates me, I am determined to continue to step foot into the gym and continue to ignore the other people at the gym.

When I step foot into the gym, I do it with purpose. My purpose is to sweat, to burn calories, to move as much as I possibly can. It's not to socialize or meet new people. I love having a friend next to me on the elliptical or on the mat because my friends push me to work out harder.

The further I go into this journey to more I see that my work outs need to constantly change. The first work out I completed left me exhausted and sore. As I continued to push myself and spend time in the gym, the soreness disappeared. I enjoyed completing a work out, waking up the next morning with no soreness and getting after it again. I felt like I was getting stronger. And I was, in a lot of ways, but I was also becoming complacent and comfortable.

It's no secret that the body adapts to exercise. The body is smart. It recognizes the movements and becomes comfortable with those movements. And that comfort makes it so that the body stops adapting and stop changing. No amount of exercise, for me at least, can undo the comfort unless the movements are different.

Changing exercise scares me. I'm worried about getting hurt. I'm worried about doing exercises incorrectly. I'm worried about looking like a fool in front of other people who know what they are doing.

Last Wednesday, I took a chance. There was a free boot camp hosted at my place of employment. All you had to do to participate was to bring a canned food. So I borrowed a can of food from a co-worker and headed to boot camp with her.

That day I did things I wasn't sure I could do. I tried new exercises. I spoke up when I couldn't do something and took the instruction on how to modify movements to meet my needs. And I didn't give up.

Months ago, I met with a trainer for a personalized consultation. He wrote down weights for me to complete without really listening to my needs. And he told me that I should do planks and squats. I told him I didn't know what a plank was and that I could not do squats.

He mentioned that I should attend one of his classes and that he would then show me how to do the proper squat as well as teach me how to do a plank. I thought about going, but I never did. I was too scared.

It wasn't just fear of doing squats and possibly getting hurt. There was fear of letting someone in and seeking advice. That sounds odd; after all a trainer's job is to show individuals how to exercise in such a way that gets results and also meets the needs of one person's body.

I've gotten over that fear now. All of those fears. It happened one day in zumba class when the instructor began doing squats in the middle of the class, and I had nothing to but learn how to complete squats with the proper form.

So I did the squats then. And after class was done, I walked out of the gym. My knees never gave out as I feared they would. I completed squats again in other zumba classes, and I spent time doing squats while at the boot camp on Wednesday.

After mentioning my knee injuries to the trainers, they checked on me. Making sure I was okay with the different circuits. Asking how I felt with squats. And I told them I was good that I knew to listen to my body and that I wouldn't push myself too far.

I didn't. I pushed myself and tried new things. I sweated a lot and woke up the next day sore. But I wasn't hurt.

I'm chasing the soreness now. I want to feel my muscles working and strengthening. I want to know, as soon as I wake up the next morning, that I am no longer comfortable with my own work outs.

I am so much more open to exercise now. I'm excited to try different classes and to learn what other things I can do that I didn't think I could. I'm excited to see how I improve at squats. I'm excited to jump on the elliptical throughout the week and run out several miles.

Every time I do a squat and finish a mile, I move further away from the fear and closer to the fit and healthy person I am chasing. Every time I push myself and try something new, I remind myself that this journey is mine for the taking. Every time I complete a work out with shaking arms, as I did today, or wake up sore from the work out the day before, I move further and further away from comfortable.

(title from "the sun will rise" by kelly clarkson)

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