Hello BAMs! Sarah here today.
First, let me just take a moment to laud all the awesome work you have been doing with BAMchange this week! As it turns out, this challenge is a bit of a kick in the shorts, so hopefully you’re not feeling bamboozled, but BAMboozled–which is defined as “tough, encouraged, and surrounded by awesome.”
It has been heartening to see how everyone has been encouraging one another, modifying when needed, and most importantly, being safe. Injury isn’t the kind of change we’re striving for here, so it is wise to listen to your body. There are no points awarded for completing the highest level. Feeling challenged, even to the point of some discomfort is fine, but the only place pain will lead you is to an exam room and an itchy paper nightgown. It’s good to see that we’re all working to avoid that.
One other little piece of housekeeping to mention: I know many of you have wondered how to participate in My Peak Challenge (through Bear Strength/Fight Camp) and our BAMstrength challenges. At the moment, we are still waiting for the welcome packets from My Peak, so we can’t speak to their specific plans for challenges. So far, it seems like participants set their own goal to be accomplished the weekend of March 15 and report their progress along the way. We know as much as you do on that score, but my impression is that BAM and My Peak can enjoy a symbiotic relationship of badassness. It certainly seems like you can make a My Peak goal and keep working through BAMchange, or whatever fitness challenge you have made for yourself. Either way, we’re excited you’re with us and we will be cheering you on, probably with excessive emojis and song mash ups.
In the meantime, Linda, Ruth, and I thought we would get January going by sharing a little bit more about ourselves and how we ended up at BAMstrength. Since Linda shared a bit about her own fitness ups and downs in her excellent post about goal setting, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own highs and lows too.
Perhaps you can relate: when my life goes through a major transition, my personal fitness takes a major hit. I had crew practice and intramural sports to keep me accountable for the four years of college, but when I graduated and started working a bad job with even worse hours, I could never figure out how to get myself out the door to exercise. Looking back, it looks so simple–no kids, no real responsibilities–but without a team or a workout partner waiting for me, it was easy to find something that always seemed more urgent.
When my wedding date began to loom a year and a half later, I made a half-hearted attempt at getting more fit, but I was still fairly directionless. I felt kind of lost at the gym, so most workouts ended up being some cardio and a few circuit machines until I got bored or hungry. I was too intimidated to ask any questions of the trainers who worked there, so I just floated.
After getting married, I moved out to the Pacific Northwest for the first time. I had been a runner since high school, but moving west was the first time I ran on trails and I feel madly, deeply in love with it. In those first years, I trail ran, hiked, and rock climbed as often as I could. I took a mountaineering class and learned crevasse self-rescue techniques and multi-pitch climbing. I made a friend who convinced me to become a fitness instructor, and I started teaching yoga and cardio kickboxing. A few years later, we moved overseas, and I continued teaching and I climbed Mt. Fuji. After moving back to the states, I was still teaching fitness classes, but my husband and I ran a few half marathons, a Ragnar, and completed the Whidbey Island Marathon just a few months before I turned 30.
Yeah. Give yourself two points if you’re reading this, thinking “so umm, this must be the high point?”
I read all of this now and think, “are you sure that is…YOU?” Because it all seems a lifetime ago. And it was: my child’s lifetime.
When my first daughter was born, my workout life changed. Perhaps “came to a screeching halt” would be more apt. Six years later, I am still trying to figure out the best way to make it work. I’ve had brief seasons when I would get into a rhythm of running regularly, training for a race, or even having a summer of success at a CrossFit gym, but for the most part it has been a slog.
My firstborn had severe separation anxiety for her first three years, so if I couldn’t take her with me or my husband wasn’t home to watch her for me, it just didn’t happen. I was also just so tired that when those windows of opportunity came, it was far too easy to plop on the couch instead. I knew that getting out there would eventually give me more energy, but mustering enough of it to get going was just.so.hard. Right when I had begun to hit my stride and get into better shape again, my second daughter was born.
The year that followed was wonderful and stressful (we moved twice). After the dust cleared, I realized that I needed to come up with a different way to perceive a workout in order to be successful. Here is what I realized:
- This needs to be a priority because being healthy should be a priority. Heart healthy, strong, with better bone density, and healthy in the head because I have a stress outlet. There is maybe a teeny tiny space in here for how I look in swimwear, but that needs to be way far down on the list.
- I hate the gym. I know this sounds nutty, when you consider that I used to teach fitness classes, but I HATE it. I hate standing on machines going nowhere. I feel like the guy in the old Dunkin Donuts commercials who shuffles out, muttering, “time to make the donuts.” It is drudgery for me. I like some classes, but the ones I liked at my local gym were all at times I could not make work. So a gym membership seemed a waste of money, even with the free childcare.
- I love/hate CrossFit. I love functional movement. Box jumps, burpees, all of that was a blast. I love flipping tires with an almost insane passion. But I hate Olympic lifts for time and I have scoliosis, so Oly lifts just hurt. Also, no childcare.
- I will never find the magical hour of time to do my workout. In my life, it does not exist. But I don’t need to have a magical hour of concentrated time to get strong. If I do ten minutes here, run the kids to the park instead of drive, pound out some squats while stirring dinner, all of it counts.
- I can do all of those things for free.
- I am an introvert, so I really like my house. The pluses to exercising there include: no strangers looking at me. No awkwardly looking at my shoes so we don’t have to talk when I go to put the exercise ball back on the shelf.
- I need accountability. Because we move a lot, finding a workout buddy can be hard. Usually I spend a year and a half shyly looking for someone, we get a good six months together, then I move again. But I desperately need a friend who is asking how it is going, a friend who is doing the same workout 1000 miles away, or a friend who is doing it beside me. Without that, I fail.
These last two points are probably what made me jump at the opportunity when Ruth, Linda, and I first planned to do a challenge together back in October. (Guess what? They’re introverts too.) I needed something I could do at home that I could work around my life and some friends who would check up on me.
It has been a game changer. I’m excited to do the workouts, if for no other reason than to grouse about it with my pals. For the first time in six years, my workouts are not an ad hoc boom or bust cycle, but consistent. And better yet, I feel stronger, more energized, and a little less alone in the world. It has been a huge gift.
It didn’t take us long to see that we’d stumbled upon something pretty great. We figured we might not be the only ones who found it beneficial, so BAM! Just like that, BAMstrength came to be.
How did you get BAMboozled? We’d love to hear your stories!