Here’s what happens when you start working out for the wrong reasons.
by Kiki Athanas
October 16, 2017
A couple of months ago I joined Equinox Yorkville. Wait - this post isn’t going to be an autobiography on my wanna-be yuppie lifestyle. Trust me, there’s a takeaway in this that will likely resonate with you - read on.
Anyways, it’s the closest gym to me (literally a mere minute walk away), and I figured I’d switch up my routine from exclusively yoga + the odd jog outside to something a little more...idealistic. You know; lift weights, get my ass kicked in a bootcamp class, gain the right to sip that overly caloric smoothie because “need to feed the muscle” and such.
Now it’s important to note that I’m not a total amateur, as I’ll often do a HIIT routine at home, thanks to Grokker and most notably the truly wonderful Sarah Kusch (her ‘GET TIGHT IN 28 DAYS’ series is a knockout in all the best ways - quick and effective workouts that are doable but have you feeling it the next day). Or so I thought. Know as ‘Athletic Training’, this category of classes is deemed as the most rigorous, intended to work strength and cardio - burning epic amounts of calories. Including the much loved “after burn”.
Screw yoga, I thought - that’s not getting me anywhere, nor is it going to help me get through my “plateau” in weight loss. I need something more. This sounds perfect.
The all-inclusive eucalyptus steam room and Kiehl’s products don’t hurt either. ANYWAYS…
So there I go, jumping straight into things, taking the classes that sound most hardcore and where the crowd chit chats about “gains” and “IF” because this is a lifestyle people!
The result? It was great until it was detrimental - for me, anyways.
But this post isn’t supposed to be a personal journal entry: I want to share what I believe to be a valuable and relatable learning for all of you reading. Here’s the verdict:
FIND WHAT MAKES YOU THRIVE, LOVE IT, AND DON’T LOOK BACK.
Anything that goes against that might just mess things up, for the worst.
Allow me to explain. Look; doing yoga, eating often (dare I say: a high-carb diet...yup, sorry, I love bananas), and rising early, worked well for me - for years! But then I got antsy. I moved to Yorkville and saw those beautifully “buff” girls with their Michi bodysuits and keto powerbars and I figured I needed to upgrade myself.
Immediately I said goodbye to the yoga studio I came to love and think of as family, peace to banana smoothies, and even tried to re-wire my sleeping habits so that I could sleep in later in order to delay (“skip”) breakfast so that I could more easily practice intermittent fasting.
It kinda-sorta-not-really worked for all of 1 week, but then I was forced to come to terms with how crap it was, and that I wasn’t really enjoying my lifestyle anymore.
The “Athletic Training” classes I was taking simply weren’t a fit for me - I started to dread them, not give it my “all” while in the class, and even over-ate prior to and after the sessions by convincing myself it was somehow necessary.
I lost sight of all of the enjoyment and therapy that can be found in fitness - it became a ‘phone-it-in’ endurance period of ‘getting-it-over-with’.
I became more envious and ridiculously obsessed with those beautiful fit girls - feeling further from my “goal” and more isolated and unworthy.
Oh, and guess what? I gained weight and felt even worse about my body.
See, when you don’t “love what you do”, you won’t love who and what you are. Crazy cheesy but crazy true. That same concept applies to work, fitness, and I’d dare to bet just about everything.
I stopped loving the physical activity I was now “getting through”, and I started to take it out on my body in other negative ways: a vicious cycle of binging + fasting, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee, and messing with my circadian rhythms.
Why did I stop doing what was working well for me in the first place? Maybe it’s a little bit of greed, or an unhealthy obsession and awareness of those who surround me, but luckily: I figured it out.
Suddenly there was a day that I fell terribly ill, was forced to rest for 48 hours, and then as I creeped out of sickness - I decided to treat myself to the Sunday evening Warm Yin class led by Jaffer Hussain. Thank the heavens, that brought me back to the reality I once knew and loved.
“Oh yeah, yoga makes me feel great.”
And guess what? When you feel great, you make great decisions. The effects just marvellously compound on each other. Treat your body to what it loves and thrives on; naturally all other ‘health and wellness’ choices seem to follow in that regard.
In literally just a day or two, I was back to eating better, sleeping better, and, well - enjoying life again.
Turns out the yoga studio at Equinox Yorkville is not only gorgeous, with stunning views - it also casts a series of transformational Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Yin yoga classes, alongside some other fun Barre and Pilates classes that literally have me high on life. The instructors are clearly some of the best in their field - knowledgeable, immersed in their practice and study, and only too willing to help you find your path and what works for you in their classes.
So what’s the take-away? Do what makes you happy.*
*Bonus: It’ll make you happier.
Sidenote: this post isn’t meant to bash the truly inspirational athletic humans who can handle the classes I pretended to for a few weeks - if it works for them, all power to you beautiful people! I’m just saying that throwing weights around to blasting top 40 remixes was NOT nourishing my soul. [PS those Michi bodysuits they all wear kinda might though].
Doing more slow-paced, controlled “fitness” which grants me the space to deeply concentrate and ‘get-in-the-zone’ - physically, spiritually, emotionally - is what makes me thrive. I’ve decided to be okay with embracing in that. Allowing myself to listen and lean into this wisdom brought about the changes I so deeply craved and knew I needed - but previously felt lost as to how to achieve them.
This week, I invite you to get kinder with yourself so that you can unlock the power that’s in store for your life when you do what’s right by your soul.
Seriously people, it can take less than 24 hours to turn things around. In fact, sometimes it’s just trading in a 500-calorie burning Metacon3 class for a warm restorative yoga + meditation to feel stronger and sexier in your body and your mind.