Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Accidental Heroes

Fitness heroes don't wear a cape or some fancy costume. 
They might not even be a personal trainer. They are disguised in family and friends.

The alarm goes off at 5 AM. I hit the snooze once, but when the alarm goes off again I have a decision to make. Do I stay in my warm, cozy bed or do I get up and get moving to the gym? This past week here in Minnesota at 5 AM the temp was below zero. Seriously. The back-and-forth discussion in my head keeps going, "Should I stay or should I go?" (I hope you are now singing a song by The Clash.) Most of the time I get out of bed, stumble in the dark to get some workout clothes on, and then out the door I go.

Once I walk in the Fitness Center, though, is when I really wake up. I don't have much choice because I (and everyone else) am greeted with the most emphatic, energetic greeting one can muster at 5:30 AM. "GOOOOOD MORNING, SARAH! HAPPY MONDAY!" The first time I heard it I was taken off guard and that's when he became my accidental hero. The days of the week may change, but the boisterous encouragement from my friend Bill never does. And for that he has been one of my fitness heroes. 

Fitness heroes can come in all shapes and sizes, and I think their work is incredible. I also truly don't know if they realize the positive impact they have on others. So what exactly is a fitness hero? Allow me to explain. In general, I'm a pretty motivated person when it comes to health and fitness. I set goals for myself and can usually carry them out. Yet there are times when it is easy to talk myself out of something if I tell myself, "I'm too tired," or if "I don't think my body is up to this today." 

Over time I have quickly realized the importance of not traveling this fitness journey alone. 

Besides giving me the emotional boost during a morning greeting, Bill has kept me going during some workouts by not even saying one motivational thing to me...he is just there as a friend. Bill and I both incorporate runs into our workouts, and it is there that through some pretty tangented conversations I have had my best runs on days that I just didn't want to do it. What do we talk about? Everything. During one 3 mile run we have covered topics from the latest movies, to discipline in our schools, to what we are binge watching on Netflix, to what the Evangelism committee at church is doing, to our families, to the fact that my husband carries a knife. Before you know it, that run is done!! 

Another fitness hero comes in disguise as my friend Laura. The start of 2018 found her signing up for a local fitness challenge, which then jump-started her on her own fitness journey. Laura has also been a great talking companion while running (got my best ladder run done because of her!), and we now have ventured in the world of lifting a bit more. The other day when I was on what felt like our 500th ab exercise and I eked out some miserable noise all it took was her saying, "You got this," and before I knew it my reps were done. And with that another accidental hero was born.

Laura obviously can do the "tough face" so much
better than me. I have some serious work to do in that area. 

For as mentally strong as most people are, I think hearing encouragement from someone else can take us the extra mile. I can try to tell myself to finish up a set of reps, but if I'm doing it on my own it is so much easier to stop or talk myself out of the last rep. But when a friend says, "You got this," it pushes me to finish. Having a friend to distract my mind on the treadmill gets me to the end. Knowing a friend is picking me up at 5:25 AM gets me out of bed because I can't let them down either. Listening to Bill loudly sing along to the songs playing over the speakers at the Fitness Center makes me smile and keeps me going.

The intent of this was not to get all schmoopy about friendships, but maybe get you to think about where you are in your fitness journey. Is there a piece missing that could help you reach some goals? I think one can not underestimate the importance of having someone to help encourage them along the way. Whether your goals are exercise or diet related, it is good to have an accountability partner to keep you moving.

In the end, POSITIVITY IS CONTAGIOUS. So if you are working towards starting a fitness program or diet or if you are well along on your journey and you need a kick in the pants, think about grabbing a buddy and get moving. And, most of the time, your fitness "hero" or partner won't be a certified trainer. So grab your sister, your best friend, your co-worker or your child. It doesn't matter who it is, just get going. They'll help you.

Simply put....accidents happen, and sometimes they can have awesome results.

I'll always remember this day. I had just finished a run, and even though I was rather sweaty and gross, he gave me a hug. Bill wanted me to know that he had read my latest blog about my daughter's struggles with anxiety, and he was keeping us in his prayers.

Verbal and emotional encouragement (as well as a dimension of fun)
are so important, and so appreciated when reaching health goals! 

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