photo: Adria Valdes Greenhauff, Vivala

I’ve always had a love–hate relationship with exercise. For the longest time, I tried to find a workout that I could call “my thing.” A few years ago, for instance, I desperately tried to like running. I bought expensive new shoes, downloaded the latest running app, and signed up for the first 5K I could find. Every morning, I’d hit the pavement in my cutest running gear and try to clock in a mile at the least embarrassing time possible. Even more than that, I patiently waited for the moment that my body and mind felt like that of a runner. Unfortunately, that day never came.

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I kept searching for a workout that I could call my own — I tried spinning, swimming, and even some Zumba along the way. I knew the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially now in my late 20s, which is why I tried so hard to find a workout that I could enjoy for the long haul. Still, there didn’t seem to be a regimen that made me feel genuinely excited about hitting the gym, especially because I wasn’t noticing any physical changes in my body to show that the exercise was paying off. 

Then one lazy Sunday morning this past August, while enjoying a morning coffee in bed, my husband got sucked into a commercial for Beach Body’s "Body Beast," a 90-day weight-training DVD program that promises it can help you get a ripped and chiseled body in just three months. About 20 minutes into the commercial, he was sold. Excitedly, he purchased the DVD program and asked if I wanted to do it together. I reluctantly agreed.

When the package came, the ridiculously buff guy on the DVD cover immediately intimidated me. Even worse, there was not a single female in any of the DVDs. I have no business doing this workout, I thought to myself. I had never lifted weights in my life. I was almost ready to throw in the towel before I even started, when my husband began telling me how excited he was that we were doing this together. I definitely couldn’t back out now. I decided I would commit for at least phase one of the program, which was 30 days. So, armed with the DVDs and a laptop, we hit the gym.

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tricep exercise in gym
photo: Adria Valdes Greenhauff, Vivala

The first day was definitely challenging. I started with two-pound dumbbells and couldn’t even complete some of the exercises —  like shoulder presses and lateral raises — with that weight. Determined to not completely declare defeat, I put the dumbbells down and went through the exercises without them. Believe it or not, this still made me work up a decent sweat. Each day got a little easier, and by day five or six, I was getting through all the exercises with 2-pound dumbbells. During the second week, I graduated to five-pound dumbbells, and a month into it I was up to 10-pound dumbbells for exercises like lunges and squats.

For me, weight lifting has been the only workout where I’ve seen slow and steady progress right from the start. I leave each workout feeling a little bit stronger, and even the smallest accomplishment — like completing my first pull-up — has given me a ton of confidence. And witnessing the tiniest of muscles making their debut on my skinny arms has made me so excited.

To date, I’ve completed the first 30 days of the program, and I look forward to continuing. It’s been great to find a workout that my husband and I can enjoy together. But even more, it’s felt amazing to prove to myself that I am stronger than I thought. I might not call myself a weight lifter just yet, but I am well on my way. And I’m keeping up with the buff guys on the DVD just fine.

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