Real Food Whole Life

3 Things I've Learned from 3 Years of barre3

FitnessRobyn Downs6 Comments

October is special to me because it marks the month I decided to change. In October, 2012 I was working too many hours, had too many commitments, was overly stressed, and felt like I had lost myself. I’d had enough of feeling bad all the time, so I decided to do something about it.

I started by making some difficult, yet necessary, changes to my work and school schedule. Then, I committed to making exercise and healthy eating a priority. And even though I was intimidated and a little overwhelmed, I found a workout studio and signed up for a few classes.

There are a number of changes I made that October that have led me to where I am today. One of my favorites is committing to healthy movement everyday by doing barre3. The support, community, and practice made the change so much more joyful, so today I am celebrating my three-year barre3 anniversary by sharing what I’ve learned. 

1 | There is no finish line

I will be 100 percent, completely honest with you guys. When I first started barre3, when I gathered the courage to walk my chubby, overwhelmed self into the studio for the first time, it was for one key purpose: to lose weight. Yes, I wanted more energy, to feel alive and vibrant, and to be a role model for my daughter. But really, the weight was the main thing.

Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to lose weight. And in fact, after a number of months I was able to lose quite a bit of weight. If you want the full story, you can read more about my journey here, and my “then and now” here. According to my primary objective I had succeeded. Now what?

Well, now came the unglamorous, daily grind of keeping up a habit. Of waking up and heading to the studio or hitting play on an online workout. Day, after day, after day. Then, too, came the inevitable fluctuation in weight that comes with working full time, being a mom, and living my life. 

The interesting, and sometimes challenging, thing about barre3 is that there’s no finish line. There’s no race to train for, no medal to win, and very few “glory” moments to celebrate with family and friends. And the stronger my body gets the more I realize that there’s so much further to go.  

But that’s actually the beauty of a daily practice, I’m starting to realize. Whether it’s a commitment to running, spinning, yoga, or barre3, it’s the lack of a finish line or end goal that is perhaps most powerful. When the focus shifts away from winning, or competing, or losing weight and shifts instead toward a daily commitment to care for one’s self, everything changes. Because without a finish line, there’s no end to what’s possible. 

2 | Reinvention is absolutely possible

I was chatting with a college friend the other day about the blog and the healthy food and lifestyle tips I share here and on social media. I think she was amused by the shift in my habits over time, particularly because she remembers the way I was in college. Which, let’s just say, was not a picture of health and wellbeing.

Sure there were times when I dabbled in healthy eating by way of dieting, and times when I was very committed to exercising (mostly by way of organized sports). But there were also times when I lived on processed foods and went months without working out. 

After my daughter was born I was at a particularly low point in this regard. I had basically deprioritized my health and self-care. I figured out pretty quickly, though, that my lifestyle choices weren’t sustainable. I knew I needed to change.

Switching up my eating habits and committing to healthy movement everyday was difficult, especially at the beginning, but over time it has become a natural and rewarding part of every day. And, over time I myself have changed. I’m not the girl my friends knew in college, or the tired, overwhelmed mom I was after having Elle.

I’m not saying my life is perfect now, or that I have this all figured out. It’s not and I certainly haven’t. But I’m confident in the changes I’ve made, and know that I’ll never go back. Healthy eating and exercise are so essential to my happiness and well being now that I just can’t go back. 

So this is what I’ve learned and the message I want to share: it’s never too late to start again. No matter where you’ve been, you can reinvent where you are and where you want to be. And you can start right now.

3 | Breathe out fear and anxiety, breathe in joy and love

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to healthy eating and living is the battle in my own head. The inner-critic that tells me I can’t do something, that I’m not good enough, that I shouldn’t even bother trying. Anxiety and fear can be crippling, and proves to be one of my most significant (self-imposed) barriers to living my best life.

I’ll admit that some days are better than others when it comes to the battle. There are days when the negative self-talk in my head is so distractingly loud it stops me from moving ahead. On those days I try to tell my inner-critic to stop being such a bully and work to give myself grace. And I take the opportunity at the end of my practice each day, whether at home or in the studio, to breathe. To breathe out the fear and anxiety, and breathe in the love and the joy.

Have you found joy in a daily exercise practice over time? If so, what has it taught you? Whether it’s running, hiking, walking, dancing, cycling, yoga, barre3, or anything else, I’d love if you shared!

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This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.