It’s hard for me to believe it’s been less than three months since I quit my job as a Group Fitness Instructor. And I didn’t just quit teaching, I completely let my certifications expire. Chapter closed. I have not, however, lost my love of fitness. I’m still working out regularly, just on a more scaled back ‘normal’ routine.
These past few months have been strange for me. I still don’t really know what my next move is and I’ll admit that I have been somewhat bored. I’m trying to enjoy this pause in my life, but I am beginning to get restless. I’m trying to let my body, mind and soul take a break from the constant need to be doing something. My body is feeling better - I still have to take a nap almost daily, but all in I am feeling better which is a far cry from how it was feeling just before the holidays. I’ve taken a lot of time to just formulate to do lists, want to lists and think about lists…lots of lists, some box checking but mostly just list making.
As I wrote in my journal a few days ago, I ended up creating a list of lessons I have learned both while teaching fitness classes and in the lull since I put a halt to that part of my life. I think whenever a life phase ends, it’s a great opportunity to evaluate where you’ve been and what was gained through the experience. You just never know where you might stumble across something unexpected.
Lesson #1 - I NEED to move my body to keep anxiety at bay. The first three weeks after I quit teaching, I did nothing more than gentle stretching. Truth be told, my body really did need a break. I had spent the past 7 years working out for 60+ minutes a day. There were weeks that I taught 5 classes in less than 48 hours and then continued to do my own training at home. That is NOT healthy and my body paid the price. I am still working through some damage, but those three weeks when I didn’t workout I experienced some of the worst anxiety I’ve had in a couple years. Sweating during a hard workout helps me burn off the anxious feelings. But instead of going back to full steam, I have settled in to a pretty good pattern of 3-4 hard workouts a week, 1-2 days of restorative yoga and 10 minutes of daily mediation. This seems to be a sweet spot for me as I enter my final year in my 30s. Anxiety low, body feeling good and strong.
Lesson #2 - Being in front of a mirror is horrible for my mental psyche. All those hours spent staring at myself in form fitting clothes made me hyper critical of every inch of my body. I don’t think I have ever hated my body more than when I was teaching. I think that is partly why I have developed a love for working out at home - no mirrors to critique myself. I am committed to no mirror and no scale. I have noticed a difference in how I feel in my own skin since I’m not staring every day. I definitely prefer the now to then.
Lesson #3 - You can't help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. I should have learned this lesson long before, but it became so obvious to me after being a Beachbody coach and fitness instructor. This goes for many areas of life, not just fitness. You can provide all the tools someone needs - tools that work for the general population if used correctly. But, until someone has made up their minds that they are ready to utilize those tools honestly, all you can do is be kind. Their choices do not reflect anything you have done. Frustrating? You bet. Nothing you have any control over though, so move on.
Lesson #4 - I want to be surrounded by positive people. People who are generally happy and who enjoy life. I became more aware of how my negative attitude had the effect of pushing people away. I’m not saying I was always negative, but I make a more conscious effort to live in a more positive state now. It’s like Elle Woods (aka Reese Witherspoon) said in Legally Blonde “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Generally speaking, people who spend time taking care of themselves - even if only for a 30 minute fitness class - tend to be happier. Those are the people you should spend more time with. I have been making an effort to cultivate relationships with those who bring joy to my life. You should do the same.
Lesson #5 - Healthy is not only a way of life but also an attitude. I can be a size 0 and still have an unhealthy attitude. Being constantly concerned with the way my body looks is not healthy. Healthy is how your spirit feels, how your mental state is most of the time, how you sleep, how your relationships are doing - it’s broad and all encompassing. There is no one right way to be healthy - your health is just that, YOURS.
The other important thing I’ve learned recently is that I need to open my eyes a little wider. I get so caught up in looking for the lessons or blessings in a specific area that I fail to recognize the miracles that are taking place elsewhere. As I’ve taken the time to reflect these past few months, I have seen where I may be too narrow minded and that in itself is another lesson for another time. But, I encourage you to take a good look around and notice the unexpected lessons in your own life. I promise you, they’re pretty obvious when you take a moment to seek them out.