This spring, after spending far too many months in fitness hibernation than I care to publicly admit, I emerged from my cave of Netflix and Uber Eats to head back to the gym. My slothdom masquerading as self-care had run its course. I have to admit that this issue of ELLE Canada was part of the prompt for my shift: It felt incongruous to be planning fitness stories with the team when my activity tracker was at the “I don’t know her” phase of our relationship.
Now that I’m back in the (sore-muscle) saddle and working out regularly, I realize that the gym serves as a metaphor for life. There are no shortcuts. Whether it’s getting a six-pack or saving the world, no achievement happens overnight and reaching an ambitious goal requires work—lots of it. You can’t rush progress. Growth takes time. (So does a six-pack.) Also: Your mindset determines your success. At the gym, I’m trying to stop myself from yelling things at my trainer like “I can’t do this!” or “Nope—that’s impossible!” (spare a thought for anyone working out near me) because studies show that the way you think can significantly affect what you accomplish (see “Your State of Mind is Crucial to Achieving Fitness Goals”). The belief that things are difficult is often illusory—it’s your mind playing tricks on you. And, much to my surprise, I have discovered that I actually can do those last five squats—go figure. When you’re stressed or tired, it’s even easier for negative thinking to creep in and derail your dreams. You wouldn’t let a friend talk to herself that way, so you shouldn’t let yourself either.
Finally: Kiss your comfort zone goodbye. One of my favourite quotes is about moving beyond what you know and into the unknown: “The shell must break before the bird can fly.” It reminds me of how rewarding it is when you get to the other side of a difficult challenge. Discovering what you’re truly capable of takes guts, but imagine how high you might be able to soar.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.