Fitness: There’s More to it Than Skinny Jeans and Six-Pack Abs.

Reunions workout2So my last post on New Year’s Day was all about being real about the rough year I’d had in 2014 and how I was determined to find my voice again in 2015.  It also came with the promise to blog more often. And six months later this is only my second post of the year.

So much for more blogging huh?

As an update, the first four months of 2015 were slightly better than 2014, but to say it was all roses wouldn’t be very real.  To put it pretty bluntly, I hit what I would label “rock bottom” in the sadness category around late March and I gotta admit it didn’t feel great.

My energy level was low, I had stopped working out completely, I was using happy hour more for an escape from reality than for socialization and some things at work felt slow, frustrating and defeating at times.

Just before the new year started, I hired one of my best friends for her brilliant strategic mind to guide us in a way that would leverage our organization’s impact  in moving education policy through the Oklahoma Legislature.  It was the first time we’ve ever worked with each other so intimately and it didn’t come easy. In the past we’d been on opposite sides of the issues and considered ourselves rivals at work, even though we were the best of friends when the clock struck quitting time.

Making the promise to fully trust my friend’s brilliant political mind was much harder than I ever thought it would be, and made me realize a lot about myself in the process.  Mainly it made me realize I have to trust myself, I have to trust other people, I have to trust the process and I have to give up control.  Who knew that could be so hard????

What this looked like in real life was pretty messy at times.  It meant uncomfortable conversations with my friend, sometimes to the point of tears (Yes, real tears.  At work.  More than once.) and breakthrough moments of self-growth–I think for both of us.

It also meant that when I reached my breaking point of struggling to trust her, trust the process and give up control I had to look deep inside myself and work on me.  And for me, that meant turning to fitness–which hadn’t come all that naturally to me in the last few years.

One day in early April, I called my personal trainer, whom I had stopped using for almost a year, and asked him to lunch.  He invited me to his office, and as soon as I sat down in the chair in front of him, I began sobbing and couldn’t get any words to come out of my mouth. Landon and I have been training together since 2007, so he quickly was able to calm me down and asked me for a one month commitment.  His ask was pretty simple:  Show up to the gym with my gym clothes on and he would do the rest. He asked me for one month of my time and trust and he promised I would feel better.

I agreed and showed up the next morning at 5:30 AM with gym clothes on, out-of-shape and without much hope that a month would get me anywhere close to feeling normal again.

He sent me a workout calendar to follow on days I didn’t train with him and the workouts were very simple:  Walk 20 minutes in the morning, yoga one day a week during lunch and take my staff on walk breaks throughout the day.  Sounds simple enough, right?


The first two weeks all I could do was get myself to the gym on the days I trained with him. And nothing more.  I felt awful that I couldn’t complete the simple workouts he had given me to do on my own, but I just kept showing up to the gym and let him take over once I got there. Eventually, I was able to slowly do cardio workouts on my own and follow his schedule. I also committed to making better food choices as well.  And with each workout I would complete, I could feel myself getting stronger, not only physically, but emotionally too.

Session ended in May and I was more than pleased by the progress our organization had made. We had accomplished nearly everything we set out to accomplish in a session that was difficult due to budget constraints and a new crop of lawmakers fresh off the campaign trail–with whom we hadn’t had a lot of time to develop strong relationships to champion our issues.  I credit so much of that success to my team at work and my friend pushing me to trust her, to trust the process, to trust myself and to trust other people.

Finally, I was feeling normal again!  But the true test would be to see if the strength I was gaining through fitness would translate into the real world.  In June, I had a vacation with some childhood friends, two 20 year class reunions and a girls trip to Grand Lake with some women from work whom I admire and respect very much.  Back-to-back-to-back-to-back weekends of being social and somewhat out of my comfort zone of focusing solely on work and fitness would surely be a challenge, I thought.

It was anything but. It was exactly what I needed to reconnect to life again. Time spent reminiscing  and laughing until my belly hurt with friends, exploring new cities and talking shop with some of the most brilliant political minds in the business in Oklahoma helped remind me what life is all about–connection.

I disconnected from life for a while and put my life on auto-pilot–defiantly refusing to feel the highs and lows that make life worth living. But fitness was my antidote.  Fitness reconnected me.

Skinny jeans and six pack abs might look great in a photo–but the benefits of fitness far exceed all that.

Fitness can make you strong if you let it–strong enough to reconnect with life, trust people, trust yourself and trust the process.