In need of some fitness advice

I apologize beforehand, as this post is really wordy, but I really wanted to ask you guys for some much needed advice!  Before I get to the real question, I feel some personal information about myself is necessary.

If there’s one thing I am determined to change about myself, it’s my obsession with perfection.  I didn’t realize this before, but all my life, I’ve set standards and goals that have been far beyond my reach.  Additionally, fear of criticism and disapproval crippled me.   I wanted to be the perfect daughter, sister, friend, student, and even the slightest hint of approval or word of praise meant the world to me.  On the flip side, I blocked off all criticism.  My family and the husband can attest to how defensive I can get when I feel as though I’m being “attacked”.  Boy, let me tell ya…It’s not a pretty sight!

Well, let’s take a look at where this “perfectionist” is in life currently – According to my preset expectations, I should have a successful career, be a mother, be the model wife…you get the idea.  However, my life is full of failures.  I’ve made so many mistakes and sacrifices that simply cannot be undone.  As I’m at a much happier place right now, I realize how much I’ve missed out on…well, LIFE!

I’m so ready to kick this evil and awful perfectionist side of me to the curb.   All this time, I didn’t realize what I was doing…And that is, I was trying to be….Jesus Christ!  Of course I was doomed to fail.   Only Jesus was able to do and accomplish everything the Father asked him to do.  He and only he is perfect.  Who am I to think that I could achieve what he had done?  If I had realized earlier what a sin perfectionism is, would things have been a lot different in my life?  I don’t know, but all I know now is that I was not meant to be perfect, and I need to come to grips with it. The sooner the better!

Having said all this, I want to discuss my all-or-nothing mentality, specifically in relation to fitness.

From my eating disorder, I weighed a meager 85 pounds.  That was 3 three years ago.

As you can see, I was nothing but skin and bones.  Exercise or any form of physical activity was out of the question.  When I came to the hard-to-swallow realization that my life was in fact in dire danger, I decided to go into battle against my internal self.  That meant no more counting calories, no more constantly weighing myself, and no more starving/binging cycles.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  I still haven’t won the battle yet, but I’m getting closer and closer to victory.

I weigh 118 pounds now.  I have dabbled in many different types of exercise.  In the beginning, I ran and did Bikram yoga for about an hour, almost every day!  You see my all-or-nothing mentality coming to action here?  I loved them both, but the problem was I was overdoing it.  Once I start running, there’s no stopping me.  Ultimately, I wasn’t doing what I set out to do which was to gain weight!  Therefore, I switched gears to strength training.  And I gotta say, I’m so glad that I did!  At first, I could barely curl a 5 Ib dumbbell, but I’ve gradually worked my way up to curling 15 Ibs comfortably now.  I feel so much stronger.  I have tone and definition.  I feel so empowered!  Never in a million years did I think I would be able to do regular man push-ups and pull-ups!

The problem is, you guessed it, I’m once again taking it to the extreme.  Although I weigh 118 pounds, my body fat is at 13%.  I’ve recently dedicated myself to scaling down the intensity of my workouts and to consume more of the healthy fats, hence my avocado a day challenge.

The problem is that rather than reducing my intensity, I have stopped exercising all together!  I LOVE the heart-pumping, sweat-dripping kind of workout, and  I find myself just not getting into the low-intensity workouts.  However, I know that I NEED to.  While I don’t want to gain more muscle mass (not at this time anyway), I don’t want to lose the tone I’ve worked so hard to achieve!

So my question to whoever made it this far in the reading is:

What  low-intensity workouts (besides walking)  would you recommend?  Any useful resources such as articles, websites, videos?  In what ways can low-intensity workouts (esp with weights) be made more exciting and challenging?

Thank you so much for reading and any input or suggestions would be truly appreciated!!

Hope you have a blessed day!!

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20 Responses to In need of some fitness advice

  1. Min, first of all, can I say that I admire you so much for putting your whole self out here in your blog? I know you are reaching (or will reach) someone that will be helped and encouraged by reading about your struggles! You are truly a beautiful person, regardless of the number on the scale 🙂

    I too struggle with perfectionism and “people pleasing”. One passage that helps me is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. It’s so powerful to me that despite all our shortcomings, God loves and cares for us! We do not need to be perfect, we are made perfect in God’s eyes through Christ 🙂

    As far as low-intensity workouts, I love swimming for tone and cardio that doesn’t put on a ton of muscle mass! Yoga is great too. I hope you get some more useful ideas from others!

    • Min says:

      Maura…thank you..thank you…thank you..
      I really contemplated on whether or not to publicize this post, as it is so personal…Then I reminded myself the reasons why I started this blog in the first place – to organize my thoughts, to recognize and to make a conscious effort to make any changes that needs to be made, and to keep a record of my progress. What I didn’t expect are all the support and strength that can pour out from YOU and other fellow bloggers. We truly are all in this together, aren’t we?

      I also started SHE READS TRUTH! Thank you for introducing me to it bc I’m so in love with it already. I’m doing the Soul Detox and LIving the Surrendered Life together right now. Today God spoke to me through Philippians 4:11-12. He told me that I need to be content in ANY and EVERY situation! GRATITUDE is the key. And boy, I didn’t realize this before, but I have SOO MUCH to be thankful for.

      You know I really should take some swimming classes..I didn’t even think about that since I can only doggy paddle..But it’s never too late right?
      BUT I want a ton of muscle mass hehe.


      • We ARE in this together!! I’m so glad that you love the Soul Detox and Living the Surrendered Life devotions!! I agree, that passage from Philippians totally resonated with me too…too often I’m guilty of complaining or comparing, rather than being grateful for all the blessings in my life! I thought of you and preyed for you on day 6 of the surrendered life plan!!

        And yes, I think it would be awesome to take swim lessons! It’s a great feeling to learn a new skill and challenge yourself! Then you can go snorkeling again with Tim 🙂

    • Tim says:

      I agree with your swimming suggestion…if only my wife knew how to swim! She swore to me that she was a proficient swimmer prior to our honeymoon in French Polynesia. Well, let me put it this way… doggy paddling + snorkeling + coral reef = big cut on the knee and nothing but sun bathing the rest of the trip! I can’t complain, though. I enjoyed the beers and Mai Tais by the pool overlooking the South Pacific. 🙂

      • LOL, I guess it’s hard not to be happy when you’re on the beach in French Polynesia with the one you love! What a great honeymoon destination…you and Min should plan a trip to Hawaii in the near future (after she takes swim lessons!) 🙂

  2. First of all, thank you for such an honest post. As someone who also tends towards perfectionism and obsessionality, I know how easy to is to get caught up in something to the extent that you take it to an extreme! Congratulations on your efforts over the past few years to improve your health and moderate things a bit 🙂

    Regarding low intensity exercise, if you’re a member of a gym (or even if you’re not), do you have access to a sports / exercise trainer who would be able to help you set some goals and give you some advice? It sounds like you’re in a scenario where expert input could be useful! In saying that, I have found that cycling is another activity that can be low intensity if you put limits on the time / distance you cycle. Social sports like tennis, basketball, anything that involves other people and you’re not likely to do every day can also be helpful. But given I’m not a professional in this area I’d recommend getting some input from someone more knowledgeable!

    • Min says:

      Thank you, Kari. It’s an ongoing battle, but I REALLY am ready to put an end to this heartless, abusive relationship. Looking back at those pictures recently, I was so horrified..and sad..I thought, how did I let myself go this far?!? Why did I see accomplishment back then when all I see now is grotesqueness. It’s so easy for our minds to get so distorted, isn’t it?

      I had a gym membership, but every time I step into that place, I can’t restrain myself. I see all these hardcore women and before I know it, I’m sprinting or going all-out on the weights. You’re right! I should rejoin and seek some professional help..It’s just that they’re so expensive!! But perhaps couple of sessions will get me rolling =).

  3. Wow, Min, I can relate to so many of the thoughts you share in this post. Thank you for your honesty, and congratulations on taking the leap of faith required to regain your health! It’s a leap I’m taking right now, and you’re right—it’s one of the hardest challenges we’ll likely ever face in life. However, the feeling of empowerment and joy that accompanies it,makes the challenge completely worth it!

    I’m the same way when it comes to running—once I start, I can’t stop. I only allow myself to run once/week now, and spend the rest of the days in the weight room. Occasionally I’ll add an elliptical session, but nothing crazy—just enough to get my heart pumping. I find that “ellipicizing” is satisfying because it exercises so many of the muscles in the leg (especially on a steep incline), without too much intensity. I also love bike riding outdoors; the fresh air and “bike breeze” is so satisfying!

    As far as making strength training interesting: I recommend doing more circuits, as they keep you busy (and your heart rate up). I find that there’s no time to get bored when I’m going from one exercise to the next, with little or no rest in between!

    • Min says:

      Thank you Sara! And it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there who’s going through the same roller coaster ride that I’m on. Let’s keep each other accountable! I’ll def be cheering you on in your journey!

      I’ve actually never considered ellipticles. I always head straight to the treadmills. I shall try “ellipicizing.” =)
      So do you weight train everyday? And what circuits do you follow? or do you come up with them yourself?
      Thanks, Sara! These are some great tips!!

  4. Katy says:

    I’m not 100% sure but what about bike riding or swimming? Both are lower intensity (unless you are planning to bike up hills) and easy on the joints.

    Yoga and like Sara said, circuit training with weights.

    • Min says:

      Hi, Katy! Maura mentioned swimming also! I’m def going to take some lessons as I can only doggy paddle. Wait no, I can also float on my back =), I’ve never thought about it simply bc I don’t know how to swim. It’s never too late, right?

      And I’ve only done Hot yoga so I’m going to try different forms..I hear Vinyasa or Hatha is good?

  5. coco says:

    such a honest post, I can relate it somehow from myself few years ago. I know that balancing out the type A personality is not easy but definitely doable and the benefit is immense, not only in the fitness aspect of the life, but overall it makes you a happier person.

    how to do it? realize that no human being is perfect, and not being perfect actually makes us human. showing vulnerabilities is a way of admitting our imperfection and that is okay, only people wth enough confidence can do that.

    living with imperfection is easier than you’d imagine, just be nice to yourself and look at the ultimate goal you have in mind, not the short term reward or goal that you haven because that could be harmful to your long term goal.

    in term of fitness alternative, I think that depends on your preference, you can make everything suitable for your current need. instead of switching to something that you don’t like, why just not doing what youmlike but less intensively? don’t avoid the problem, face it and tackle it, it might not be an overnight solution, but if you hard and you are determined, you will get over it!

    good luck!

  6. Min says:

    Wow, your words just made me teary. Yes! I recognize that I’m not perfect, in fact I’m so far from being perfect! So does this mean I have confidence? =)

    I hope I can get to that point when living with imperfection feels comfortable and acceptable.

    Yea, I just need to try to restrain myself. I’m thinking maybe I should workout at home or some place where there’s not a lot of people? Once I see others engaging in high-intensity workouts, I end up doing a lot more than what I set out to do…

    • coco says:

      I think working out home could help because it gets easy to stop and not to be influeed by others, you never know their stories! 🙂

  7. Hi Min!

    First of all — you look wonderful in that second picture! I love how you say you can do a man’s push up now 😉 lol that’s my goal! I’m at the beginning of my strength training path and I’m loving it already!

    Like you, I know how difficult it can be to let go of overdoing something and perfectionism! I have never had an addiction to exercise (thank God, because I’ve had plenty of other issues during my ED struggles 😉 … however I can totally get how you feel!

    Have you tried switching to Vinyasa or Hatha yoga instead of Bikram? I take Vinyasa and it’s a little less intense, yet it’s great for your mind-body connection & also it works all your muscles! Same goes for Pilates, in my opinion 🙂

    You could also try to make use of YouTube and set yourself to accomplish 1 (!) workout video every other day or so (like Blogilates or Toneitup = two channels I love) Make sure to do just one workout routine and STOP 🙂 be content with the feeling of having done a workout but don’t kill yourself with multiple routines 😉

    Hope this helps a little.

    I wish you the best as always!! XO

  8. Min says:

    Dearest Leanne.. it’s so amazing how we’ve never met, and yet we can totally relate to and understand each other on such a deep, personal level! I’ve actually taken some Vinyassa yoga classes at the gym, but I’ve decided to put the membership on hold for awhile.
    Thank you so much for the suggestions! I’ve actually never heard of them until an hour ago when I read this. And what do you know? I actually did one Blogilates session just now =) I laughed bc you were so right! I was so tempted to do another one, but I refrained. Aren’t you proud of me? hehe. Thanks, Leanne!! you rock!!

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  10. burningitoff says:

    Hi there, I found your blog from the comments section on my blog (thanks for stopping by! :)) and just had to comment on this post. I used to struggle with incorporating low intensity workouts into my routine because I felt like I was “wasting time” being at the gym and not going all out but these days I love to mix them into my weekly routine. For a low intensity cardio workout, you could try a dance based workout like Zumba. Trying to keep up with the choreography keeps my brain engaged so even though I’m not working at a super high intensity, I still feel challenged and therefore avoid boredom. For some low intensity strength training, yoga (not heated or power yoga though) or pilates are good bets. Hope that helps!

    P.S. – You look amazing now! Love the definition in your shoulders and arms!

    • Min says:

      Thank you so much for your advice and words of encouragement! It’s def been tough, and I actually ended my gym membership..not only to contribute to the new building fund for our church but also bc I have a really hard time refraining myself from giving it my all during workouts. When I see other ladies working out so hard, I feel compelled to work out harder!
      Lately I’ve been doing some yoga at home..and walking my dog.. a lot! 😉 I think he appreciates it!

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