This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
I have been avoiding this. But the time has come.
A few months ago, I had made myself all kinds of promises about hitting the gym to do some basic-level weight training. Well, that was a #FAIL because I did not follow through. So today, I decided to hold myself accountable. I called one of the health coaches provided by my company to share my goals and get some motivation (WebMD health coaches give tips, guidance, and encouragement for getting and staying healthy).
The coach reviewed my history and then asked me to share more about the reason for my call. I told her last year I made a promise to incorporate weight training in my gym routine but I hadn’t done it yet. So she asked me a series of questions, and I’m embarrassed to say what some of my answers were. For example, she asked me what was stopping me from going to the gym to do what I originally said I was going to do. And then she told me that barriers can be physical or internal.
This is where the hot mess rolled right in! Honestly, I haven’t been using the weights in my apartment complex gym because I feel like the other people around me are pros and they are going to laugh at the girl who is struggling to pick up 8-pound dumbbells. The health coach said, “It’s easy to compare ourselves with what is going on around us. But try taking one small step today.” So in an effort to make the first move, I told her the next time I go to the gym and start to feel intimidated, I’ll go to the other small workout room we have here and lift the weights with no one else watching.
She then asked me if I had a plan for how long I’d lift weights and how many reps I would do. A plan?? I’m pretty sure I had a “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?!” expression on my face at this point (couldn’t resist a Diff’rent Strokes reference). I hadn’t given it much thought until that moment. I guess I had been hoping to start with one rep and work my way up to WWE status. She then said, “Once you go through the process of lifting weights, intrinsic confidence will be building as well.” So we settled on me starting with 8 to 12 reps of biceps and triceps curls in addition to overhead lifting for one set and then moving to 2 to 4 sets after I observe how I’m feeling in a couple of weeks.
What I loved about the health coach’s approach was that she made me feel like I can actually do this. So I went down to the gym and got busy. When I was monitoring my form as I lifted, I remembered what the coach said to me: “You’re here for you. The celebration comes from within.” I did it! Now who’s ready to lift with Laura?!
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney.