You’re stronger than you think

I used to hate planks. Whenever I was in Pilates freshman year and a perky teacher instructed us to flip into plank position, it was all I could do to keep from groaning out loud. My shoulders were weak, my wrists hurt, my back wouldn’t stay flat, and oh man, my abs just wouldn’t stop shaking.

Now I love planks and do them all the time.

The first time I went to lower-body sculpting, I barely made it through 30 minutes of various squats, lunges, squeezes and pulses. With hamstrings, quads and butt burning, I struggled to keep up with another enthusiastic instructor, and the next day I could barely get out of bed, much less walk.

Now I teach a 50-minute lower-body class.

At the beginning of the summer, I couldn’t run a full mile without stopping. My slow jog had to be interrupted by periods of walking because either my lungs or my legs couldn’t handle it. And I hated it the entire time.

Now I run a sub-24:00 5K.

I don’t say all this to brag. It’s exciting for me only because it shows how far I’ve come in the last couple years – even in the just the past six months. I’m so proud of my progress. I can do things I never would’ve thought myself capable of. These clear improvements in my strength and stamina are incredibly rewarding, and they provide a satisfaction I never anticipated. I worked out to feel fit and healthy, to be thin and toned. As much as I read about how setting goals was helpful, with exercise I didn’t care about how much I could lift or how fast I could run as long as my heart was happy and my butt fit in my jeans. But now I see it all a little differently, and there’s even more moving me forward.

The point is, in even a short time, you can do so much more than you ever thought you could. Anyone who says they can’t do planks or can’t run more than a mile really can, and it wouldn’t even take that long. And once you start pushing your potential, finding out and expanding what your body is capable of is such a powerful motivator. Even if I don’t run a 5K any time soon, my competitive edge now drives me to challenge myself every time I run. And working out is so much better now that it’s not just about calories; it’s about keeping up and working harder, lifting more and running faster than I did last time.

So push yourself and remember that you’re stronger than you might think. Find out just how far you can go, and next time make it a little farther. The trouble is, you then have to work that much harder to get that killer workout.

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