What I Learned on My Fitness Journey #1

Difficult Does NOT Mean Impossible.

One of the toughest obstacles I had to overcome on my fitness journey was not an exercise routine. It was the mental blocks I set up for myself that prevented me from trying. To someone like me, who had not exercised for over 10 years, a hardcore fitness program such as P90X can be downright scary and Tony Horton was the devil! Pushups, pullups, bicep curls—never done any of those things in my life! Ever. When viewing the program for the first time, it’s easy to walk away and tell yourself: “It’s no use—I can’t do these exercises.” Isn’t there something tailored for wimps like me? That’s the kind of mental roadblock I’m talking about.

I do remember the Tony reminding us at one point: “Don’t say ‘I can’t.’ Instead, say ‘I am presently struggling with,’ and slowly you will improve.” I didn’t understand what the heck he meant until I experienced for myself the amazing potential of the human body to adapt and become stronger. When I first started working out, I had the upper body strength of a jellyfish. I could not do a single modified bent knee pushup. If you want to be sexist, they’re also called “ladies’ pushups.” A pullup was out of the question. You might’ve as well asked me to swim the English Channel. In my mind, these things seemed so impossible and unattainable that it was almost pointless to even try.

I was wrong. From one week of exercise, I was able to do a modified pushup (although I only lowered myself by four inches). After thirty days, I could crank them out 20 at a time. When 90 days passed, I was doing real pushups from the plank position. The first time this happened, I nearly died from shock. Was this a fluke? Did I get suddenly get lucky today? I must not be doing it properly. It was no fluke because my body had become stronger. Those muscles that had been dormant for decades had now been activated and were responding positively. It was in me all along, but I was blocking myself because I had never done it before.

Pullups were even more of a revelation. Instead of doing pullups, I started off doing lat pull-downs using a medium weight band attached to the pullup bar. This got progressively easier and I switched to the heavy duty band. I would’ve been content to do these forever, but my husband encouraged me to try doing a modified pullup with a chair assist (BTW, almost all of BeachBody’s fitness programs include instructions for modifying the exercises to make them easier). I tried it only to humor him. I was able to do one, but only if I had both feet on the chair. I didn’t stop trying, though. Before I knew it, I dropped one leg from the chair. Months went by, and lo and behold, I was able to pull the entire weight of my body off the ground with no chair assist. I was giddy with joy. I think I immediately called everyone I knew to tell them I had just done a real pullup. Most politely said, “That’s nice,” and hung up. They obviously didn’t understand a miracle just visited my life.

As for bicep curls, I started with using pink colored 3-pound weights (which were probably as heavy as my TV remote). Today, I curl with 20-pound (or heavier) barbells.

I know now that the human body is a beautiful machine. I won’t break if you push it. It only gets better. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. If I didn’t experience this firsthand, I would never have believed it. If you told me two years ago that I would be doing pushups AND pullups today, I would have thought that you were delusional. The point is that difficult does not mean impossible. Just because you’ve never been able to do something doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you. They only seem impossible because you don’t think your body is capable of doing it, but if you keep trying, keep working at it, keep pressing play, and keep pushing yourself, what used to seem impossible becomes doable. In time, the doeable may even become easy. The key is not let something difficult deter you from trying. You will only succeed if you keep trying. You will only try if you let go of the mental blocks which prevent you from doing so.

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About Jade Nuyen

You know the people who tell you that life goes downhill after 40, or after you've had children? They're full of crap. I prove it to myself every single day that life begins after 40 and you don't have to accept being a frumpy out of shape mom as a lifestyle.
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