Patient in the Process

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a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

A couple of years ago I made the decision to start going to the gym. I had always been active growing up and even into my early adulthood but I had gotten to a point where I was starting to become unhealthy. I wasn’t taking care of myself the way that I should have. I wasn’t eating properly. It’s not that I was binging or over eating. I wasn’t eating enough. When some women experience stress or depression etc they tend to “eat their feelings.” No donut or drive-thru is safe. With me, it’s the opposite. I lose my appetite. I lose motivation. When I am overwhelmed, exhausted, under extreme stress, my appetite goes down the drain. No appetite means no nutrients. No nutrients means no energy. No energy equals zero motivation, passion for the things I usually love etc. You get the picture. It’s a horrible feeling.

It isn’t something I realized until much later in life. Looking back at pictures of myself I can see it now. I was really skinny. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when someone I knew at the time made a comment about how skinny I was that I made the decision to change. I wanted to be healthy and strong. And that meant gaining muscle. Gaining weight. I signed up at my local gym and I’ve been going ever since.

In the beginning I have to admit I felt a little out of place. There were so many people there that clearly had been going a long time and their sculpted bodies reflected that. I wanted that. The first few times were a bit awkward for me as I only knew a few tried and true workout routines. Plus I was still learning how to use some of the machines as well. And most of the time with a room full of other people watching. (Still to this day, all these years later, I still hate going to the gym when it’s packed full of people. I prefer when it’s empty.)

Over time I would search youtube for fitness videos to learn new, more challenging routines so that I wouldn’t plateau. I wanted to get the most out of my time at the gym. Slowly but surely, as I got stronger, I started to lift heavier weights and do more challenging routines. I became more confident and knowledgeable about what I was doing. I would walk in with a plan in my head about what workouts I would do that day rather than just walking in and “winging it.” (Always better to be intentional so that you don’t waste any time.)

Last week I was at the gym pretty early in the morning. Around 6am. It was nice and quiet with hardly any people around, just how I like it. It was just me and another woman next to me who was clearly farther ahead on the fitness journey than I was. I had just finished doing a favourite yet challenging exercise of mine that I had been doing for a couple of months. It’s a more advanced version of a “burpee”. Doing the full move while holding onto what’s called a “balance trainer” and then ending with a full push up each time. (Try doing that 10 times in a row without stopping. So intense and so good!) I had finished 4 full sets of 10 when the women beside me complimented me on what I had just done. “Great job!” she said with a smile. “Those are really hard to do!” I kindly said thank you and mentioned that it took me a while to be able to do that many of them. I had to work my way up to be able to do it.

I felt so proud of myself just from that little compliment the woman gave me. It made me think back to when I first started working out and I couldn’t even do one lousy push up because of how weak I was. There were many times when I would feel discouraged, especially when I first started because I wasn’t seeing results. It’s a very slow process. Building muscle takes time. And while for the first couple of weeks or months (depending on your routine and habits etc) there doesn’t appear to be any progress at all, something is happening. Beneath the surface.

When you work out you’re actually tearing your muscle. After the workout (and with proper nutrition) your body repairs the torn muscle. Over a period of time, this same process repeated over and over again is what creates larger muscles and/or a more toned look. It doesn’t just happen over night however. It takes consistency. It takes discipline. It takes sacrifice. It takes patience. I had to learn to be patient with myself in this process.

Just like I’ve had to learn patience in the process of getting healthy and strong again, I’ve also had to learn patience in the process of life. Going through difficulties. Repairing a broken heart. Getting back up on my feet. We live in such a fast paced society where everything is instant. We want everything now. We don’t want to wait…for anything. We’ve lost the ability to be patient.

I can tell you very honestly that patience is not my strongest virtue. It’s always been difficult for me to wait. Especially when I get it in my head that I want something. Something that I have learned from personal experience is that anything worth having always takes time. It takes all of the things that I listed earlier; consistency, discipline, sacrifice. There are so many lessons to be learned in the process. In the waiting. And while not everything was enjoyable along the way, a lot of the lessons learned were absolutely necessary. I found out how strong I really was. I found out how capable I am in any given situation. I learned how to keep going and to push through to the other side even while I was in pain. And most importantly, it’s given me a story to tell.

Every step forward along the way, although it might be the smallest step, is still a step forward. Something is still stirring beneath the surface. Where you are eventually headed might still be just a glimmer off in the distance but with every step you take, you’ll look back one day and realize just how far you’ve come.

Celebrate every step forward. No matter how small it may seem. Celebrate every victory. Every milestone. Every hurdle you’ve overcome. Because this whole life thing, it ain’t for sissies! You’ve gotta be made of some pretty tough stuff, even in the seemingly small things. But those “small” things, those “small” steps are exactly what it takes to reach your destination. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Embrace it. Own it. Conquer it. Overcome it. Push through it. And in the process you’ll become exactly who you were created to be.