If you’ve been on twitter this weekend, last week etc – you may have seen me toss around a strange almost-word: “FitFluential.” For those of you wondering what in the world that is – here’s the official description:
FitFluential is a nationwide network of fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and offline via multiple social media platforms. FitFluential is also a social media agency that creates unique contextual marketing campaigns for brands interested in connecting with fitness enthusiasts.
Hot pink logo aside (what’s with everyone and all the pink stuff all the time?!), I’ve decided to accept their invite and join up with them – and so far its been a whole lot of fun. I’ve also met a ton of new friends and learned a LOT of really interesting stuff about branding and social media. Learning is good. Besides, I think they need an amusingly logical, odd-humor-inclined, mildly obsessive weirdo, mad-exercise-scientist, or whatever it is I am, to balance things out, right? Hope they’re prepared for all the talk of kettlebells, pull up variations, meats, martial arts movies, bacon, grim determination…
Perhaps I’m FitFluential because I’ve proved you can live a healthy lifestyle and still BE YOU. Whoever that is – in order to be healthy we don’t all have to look the same, we don’t have to rush out, get a tan and cram ourselves into the newest “cute fitness outfit.” We don’t have to force ourselves to jump around and dance to “upbeat music” if we’re not so inclined. If I did that I’d feel like a jerk – it wouldn’t empower me. It works for some people, a LOT of people, but just because it might not work for you doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or that you’ll never be fit.
I was the kid in school that Coach picked on for wearing black socks, for being pale. (Amusingly enough, my current and seriously awesome strength coach picks on me for being pale. HEY! Anyone with Exercise Science bachelor’s degree: do they teach a special course on that?) In elementary school, I was tiny and often picked last for kick ball, but did especially well on any day that involved obstacles or climbing etc. In college, my involvement with sports consisted of being dragged along to a random intramural game to check out some guy a friend thought was cute, or more often dodging the soccer team’s quick feet in the cafeteria rush*. Fortunately I discovered strength training and weight lifting one summer home from college. It was in the right direction, but still not exactly what I was looking for, which would come later with qigong, tai chi, kettlebells, and bodyweight training. Find what works for you – it might be different than anything your friends are into, but that’s ok. Find YOUR strength – and get stronger, find your weaknesses and work on them even harder.
I have very few illusions about the mainstream fitness industry – most of the stuff out there, especially the stuff marketed to women is complete and utter bunk. It’s usually not designed for you to methodically and meticulously follow over a long period of time. It’s designed for someone to make a quick buck from the people who seem content to lose and then regain the same 5-10lbs year after year. The people who want to pay for something so that they can say that they’re doing something, the people who buy a gym membership and who show up 1-2 times a month to socialize. This is extremely frustrating for those of us who want to make a real change. If you feel like you’ve honestly “tried everything and nothing works” the problem might not be you, it might be the things you’ve tried. Look outside the norm a little bit, adventure is calling!
Personally, I started finding the good stuff when I was poking around on some really manly-man websites where I kept hearing about kettlebells, Pavel Tsatsouline, military special operations training, etc. All that talk of “raw power,” “agility of a tiger,” “kettlebells let you hack the fat off your meat – without the dishonor of aerobics or dieting” on the back of the original book: The Russian Kettlebell Challenge was a breath of fresh air. Besides, it appealed to the side of me that not-so-secretly wants to be the female equivalent of James Bond – but that’s another blog article entirely.
One of the hidden benefits of kettlebell training in the style of the RKC and Dragon Door is the mental strength you get – partially from pushing through and accomplishing something, partially from meeting incredible people. Watching people making changes, exploring, and becoming stronger – lets you know YOU can do it too. It takes effort, determination, discipline. And I guarantee you it’s all worth it – and worth it in ways that you might not have thought of too!
The point is that you have to seek out the best teachers and coaches, look into and go places where you might not normally go, and fall in with all kinds of interesting people. Fortunately I REALLY like to do stuff like that, and love to share the info (if you’re not quite as brave/crazy as me yet, keep checking this blog!) In just this past year the number of amazing** people whose accomplishments, triumph over illness and/or injury, adventures, discoveries, inventions are staggering. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not “there yet” or that I should be further along than I am. But – like everything – it seldom happens overnight. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far, and continue to make. Patience is also a skill – and as I said on twitter a while back: patience makes you dangerous, I like being dangerous.
You might feel like you’re stuck somewhere, stuck in a body you don’t like and that you can’t change. A body that doesn’t do what you want it to, that can’t keep up with you. A body that maybe doesn’t visually express who you really are. I want you to know that you can change your body. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t necessarily be “kwik n easy.” You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fall down. What matters is getting back up, small victories, practice and persistence. Never giving up. You’ve got way too much at stake to ever give up, this is your life – and you can make it into what you want.
SO – without further babbling – my 7 Tips for Starting Out on Your Fitness Journey:
- It doesn’t matter where you start, or how unfit you feel you are – it matters that you DO start. Even if it just means taking a walk around the neighborhood. Do something, do it today, MOVE. Check with your doctor too, by the way.
- Think of it as an adventure – and try new things, you might find a hidden talent or aptitude, and really take off in a new skill that ends up turning your health and fitness into a fun hobby you love instead of a chore.
- Don’t worry about “fitting in” at the gym – wear what makes you comfortable – the gym can be awkward enough without you feeling physically uncomfortable in clothes you’ve felt compelled to buy. Better yet – look for workout opportunities OUTSIDE of a traditional gym setting.
- Find a MENTOR, a hero, or someone who inspires YOU. This person doesn’t have to be an athlete or fit pro – there are tons of people out there who are living healthy active lifestyles who are artists, musicians, your neighbor, etc.
- Find a GREAT COACH or trainer. Forget about buying expensive gadgets that you won’t use in a couple of weeks – learn exercises and skills you can use over your whole lifetime. Besides, a good trainer or coach can help you find the best exercise equipment for you. You’ll save in the long run.
- Find support – even if its just an online friend or online forum. Your local friends may not always understand your drive to be healthy – some may even try to sabotage you (sometimes unintentionally!). Be on the lookout for this and find people who are positive about the same sort of goals that you have.
- Think long term – is what you’ve chosen something you are willing to maintain over years and years and years? Do you love it like I love kettlebells and bacon? The quick fix often doesn’t work for lifestyle change… ask yourself if a particular diet is something you would be happy to do forever.
And unofficial #8: Let me know how you’re doing. Join the GiryaGirl website and make comments here or on the forum, reach out on Twitter and Facebook – 🙂
*So yeah, those of you who forget that this whole “athlete thing” is really new to me and ask “what sport I played in college” there’s your answer: checking out guys, not getting stepped on in the cafeteria by college athletes, running around super late at night making weird video projects (often involved sprinting, jumping over/under things actually), and the occasional incredibly abstract “prank”. More on abstract pranks later.
**Ok, here are some words that get overused by 98% of my fit-pro friends… “amazing” and “awesome” you know who you are. I keep threatening to start a 10 day Amazing-Awesome-Challenge where none of us are allowed to say “amazing” or “awesome” or we put a quarter in a jar for charity. We should choose the charity carefully because I suspect they’ll be getting a LOT of $ from us.