My Exercise Routine Helped Inspire Me To Do The “Hard Things” Again After Years Of Complacency
I can easily attribute the 20lb plus weight gain I acquired over a few years’ time to my desire and need for ease.
After moving from LA to New York with nothing but an internship and a message from God, I had hustled and ground my bones into dust just trying to survive in the Big Apple. As I started to venture into my late twenties, I felt a shift happening inside of me–I lacked the “get up and get at it” mentality that sustained me through my early New York hustle years, and my ambition was replaced with a deep and paralyzing exhaustion. Some of my efforts paid off big, not financially, but people were starting to notice my work and I was invited into rooms that I could’ve only dreamed of being in. But at a certain point, I hit a wall where recognition wasn’t enough. I not only deserved to be paid my worth, but I needed it. Bills were piling up, student loan bills outrageous, my 9-5 was not enough, and every pitch I sent to try to get resources for my creative ideas was turned down or shut down. On top of that, I had made up and broke up with many men I loved; I was alone. My apartment was bite size and in a bad neighborhood, and I literally just “could not.”
I was looking for a break–and goddamnit, I deserved it. So I ate, and I drank, a lot. I called it “self care” to not be so hard on myself when everything, literally everything around me felt hard. Why am I fighting my urge to eat this cake when I just had my best ideas diminished at work? Eat the cake. You deserve the cake. And so it went. It went on and on until the weight of avoiding myself and my physical and mental needs found a home around my waist, stomach, and face. So now, not only were my circumstances bad, but now I felt bad–stuffed in fact. And the only way to change my life meant doing ANOTHER hard thing–working out. So then, the battle for my life began.
A few months before my 30th birthday, I started training with Irving Hypolite aka Zeus. I actually went into deeper debt for these training sessions, but I regret nothing because those gym moments helped shift my outlook on life. I remember waking up every morning to work out (and keep in mind, those were six hard workouts a week), and all I could think was, “Why the hell am I doing ANOTHER hard thing.” I was so resistant to my own self-imposed new workout routine, I sometimes had to sleep in clean gym clothes just so I could roll out of bed and know what I needed to do. To top it off, I was celibate during this time. So not only was I in a no sex zone, but I was also in a no carb, no sugar, zone as well. Ya know what that means? I was in hell, y’all. Literally hell.
There was nothing to satiate my flesh and the only “enjoyable” thing I got to do was workout and sweat every day. And those first few weeks I was miserable. I would look in the mirror crying some days and say “I am a Black woman in America who makes so little money and who lives in this trash apartment in the toughest city in the world, and I’m single af, why oh why would I do these hard things!”
Anyone who has ever lost weight, (and trust me, my mission wasn’t nearly as long or intense as others,) knows that there are no shortcuts to these things. It is a moment by moment decision to change your life. And as time went on, and I managed to stay the course, those decisions started to become easier. Yea of course I wanted the cake, but I was more mentally capable of delaying my instant gratification for longterm satiation. I acquired that mental agility through literally telling my body every day, to do the hard things again, particularly when I felt I had nothing left: Pick up the heavy dumbbell. Push yourself on the elliptical. Go for a run. Do one more rep. And through this process, I re-found the twenty-year-old Keyaira who did the hard things with a lot more optimism and peace.
Now that my exercise routine is driven by discipline, not motivation (a key difference my trainer pointed out. If you wait for “motivation” to work out, you’ll never go), I then began to do an audit of every other place in my life I stopped doing difficult things. That meant quickly letting go of men I was interested in that I knew weren’t a good match for me, even though it was “hard.” It also meant taking the time to invest in my outside projects even if it required me to work after work. Right now, I’m having to get really raw and honest with myself about my finances.
Yes, I know that my income is astronomically too low to even be living in this city. There isn’t upward mobility available at my 9-5, and every week it’s hard to make ends meet. BUT, in the spirit of “doing hard things,” I had to get honest about the fact that packing lunch is just something I have to do. I had to get honest that I couldn’t go out and get drinks every weekend. And the biggest one, that I’m still struggling to let go of as I type, is that I cannot get my nails done anymore either. When you are financially strained, making even more sacrifices feels like punishment. But because I can remember where I was before my weight loss, completely stuck in the idea that “doing the hard things” was just so “unfair,” I’m willing to take the leap to do the hard things in the financial area of my life too.
If you’re reading this, I hope you find a way to build a discipline around yourself. I truly believe the state of the body guides the mind, and it’s important that your vessel is as healthy and clear as possible so you can make the hard decisions without so much tension. I promise you, the pay off is worth the upfront sacrifices, you just have to believe in the destination before you arrive.