The body is the easiest thing to adjust to, if you’re used to waking up in a new one each morning. It’s the life, the context of the body, that can be hard to grasp.
Every day I am someone else. I am myself–I know I am myself–but I am also someone else.
—Every Day, by David Levithan
After being out of shape and out of any fitness habits at all, it was amazing when I discovered that indoor cycling, especially with hand weights and tap backs and other things to make me forget I was exercising, was the thing for me. So I started doing it frequently, because that’s what you should do with exercise, and it was great because it felt fun and that made it easier to make it a part of my life.
But after awhile I felt myself plateauing, and I had to admit to myself – because I am always reading books about exercise science and because I could feel it in my body – that you really don’t get stronger or lower your body fat percentage or work your bone density if you don’t strength train. So I added in another class, GRIT, even though I didn’t much like it, into my routine once a week or so. And it did help me keep my body reshaping (in the two years since I started exercising again, I have essentially kept off no pounds and still weigh the exact same, but I don’t care because I’m stronger and my clothes fit differently and I’m better at avoiding or fighting colds and other things, and that’s far more important).
Please find a type of fitness that works for you and that you enjoy. It’s life changing, really. But once you find yourself committed to it, please also find another type that you can do. Find something that is different, which means you might have to look around for awhile (this is why Groupon, LivingSocial, and Gilt were invented – so you can be a gym slut. Or you can do ClassPass if you live in certain cities.)
Women especially have this ridiculous idea that strength training will bulk them up, and that’s not how science works. You have to do a lot of additional things, like drink 10 protein shakes a day, to look like a body builder. And strength training is what instigates things like EPOC*/after-burn, which are what help you lose weight if that’s your goal, and which keeps your metabolism working properly.
So: alternate types of exercise day to day, whether that’s every day or just one cardio workout and one a week. Whatever. But don’t let your body get used to one thing, or it will start phoning it in.
*excess post-exercise oxygen consumption