30-Something Women. Whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s, this post is for you. While I’ve always been active, I didn’t begin to truly enjoy fitness as a lifestyle until my late twenties. Now, in my early thirties, it’s become a joy that keeps me healthy, happy and fulfilled.
People often wonder how I do things like:
- Get up at 4:45am on the weekdays
- Run 12 miles on the weekend
- Have time to try new workout classes like 305 Fitness & Barre
- Keep up with work, life, relationships and other extracurricular activities
- Stay motivated to keep doing it all!
The first thing to go for most people with a busy schedule is a workout. Bad idea, ladies. Here’s how an active lifestyle changed my life for the better — and how I learned to totally LOVE it.
One of the people who helped me get there was a great friend who became my fitness buddy/running therapist! Sadly, she’s moved away last week but this post is perfect to dedicate to Maggie! We get each other when it comes to staying fit and fabulous 🙂
1. It Stopped Being About Calories
As a teenager, I was obsessed with calories. I remember the first time I recognized exercise as a way to “control” things. From that day on (when I went to the YMCA and ran 5 miles for the first time, which felt like a million), exercise became about “not getting fat.” I could never burn enough and it was always something I dreaded. As I got older, exercise got a little better. I loved the running “high” I got but it wasn’t until I started CrossFit nearly 3 years ago that calorie worship truly became a thing of the past. It was about fun, community, and goals. The friends I’ve made through fitness are some of my best and that’s invaluable!
2. I Incorporated Goals
It’s hard for me to believe that I never used to run races. I ran a 10k once in 2004, then a half marathon in 2005. The next thing was a full marathon in 2008. After that I started understanding what all the “race talk” was about. It wasn’t just about running — it was about the training, the goal setting, the friendship, the atmosphere and the positivity. People of all ages with individual goals were there — and running with a purpose in mind was so much more enjoyable. Having a calendar date inspired me to train and gave me something to look forward to. Plus, my friend Maggie and I became running buddies and when we train, we talk out our issues and come away feeling a million times better.
3. I Learned to Love Strength — Not Thin
Finding a sport I loved outside of running wasn’t easy. Then, I started CrossFit. My entire life I’ve been self-conscious of my arms — always thought they were too big or flabby. CrossFit totally changed my mentality. I wanted my arms to look strong — not skinny. I forgot about “bulking up” and focused on “building up” my strength. Working out was no longer a chore — it was something I looked forward to everyday. Each day at CrossFit is different — and I love that. You challenge yourself in multiple ways and in the gym, you’ll find people of all ages and sizes. And generally speaking, the CF atmosphere is full inspiration, triumph and encouragement. I felt like I had a gymful of friends immediately.
4. My Mental Health Seriously Improved The endorphin lift of a workout is not something to brush off. It helps me to relieve stress, work through problems, view things from another perspective, get a second wind of positivity or creativity. It reminds of how good it feels to treat my body well and of how lucky I am to have a capable body as well. It’s hard to get up early and do it but as I got older, I was able to recognize the benefits outweighing the negatives of getting up early. I also knew, rationally, that my body would adapt once I got moving. My sister Lindsey and I both recognized this for ourselves so when we are together, we always make it a priority to run, get our heads on straight and take on the day. It’s great having someone in your life like that to encourage you.
5. Physical Health Snaps. We adults need exercise to keep our hearts and lungs and all that good stuff healthy. I could cite study after study about how important this is for overall health — but you know that. Treating your body was the temple it is feels good. You remove guilt and insert accomplishment. It becomes a habit, which becomes a lifestyle. Now, I can’t imagine not working out 3-4x a week, it’s just part how I keep myself happy, healthy and able. Make it a priority and trust me, all your other stuff will get done and probably faster because you have more energy and motivation. My husband values exercise and health as well and we encourage eachother to stay healthy, move and feel good. It would be hard if I wasn’t married to someone who valued fitness as well.
These are just a few of the ways growing older has improved my life tremendously. The foolishness of youth — especially a youth that developed an eating disorder at a very early age — stayed with me for far too long. But now, exercise is something I truly enjoy, look forward to and rely on– especially because of the many special relationships I’ve built along the way. You will never get to know someone as well as you do on long runs or post-workout coffee dates, trust me!
Here’s to your fit, fabulous 30s — may they be your best decade yet!