How Fitness Helped Me Become a Better Writer

I started my Trim the Fat series just a couple of weeks ago and though I’ve yet to post my second piece on the subject (it’s coming, really) I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about what’s contributed to the past year of productivity and my desire to be a better writer. My goals are no longer “get published, get published, get published” but “get better, get better, get better.” Age does have something to do with it— I’m knocking reluctantly on 27’s door— but my interest in fitness and the food I eat has had a bigger impact than I expected.

“God, it would be so great if I could just cut my stomach off and not have to heal,” I used to think. It’s embarrassing but true.  I also wished this about breakouts. I thought it would be so great if I could just chop everything off that was wrong with me and be done with it. Instant gratification. Instant perfection. Instant life-changing happiness. Only I couldn’t and I pouted. I had picked up the notion somewhere that I was supposed to workout but I didn’t know how and I didn’t want anyone to teach me how. I’d just rather wait around for a miracle.

I had a breakthrough my junior year of college when I realized I liked starting my day off with a run. There was something invigorating about accomplishing something before the day had even started. Those early morning 1 mile jogs turned into 2 miles of running and then slowly into a half marathon and then weight lifting. That was over a course of 6 years. If you told me 6 years ago that I’d be running half marathons and bench pressing, I would have laughed and laughed. “6 years is too far away,” I would have thought, “I don’t even know who I’ll be then. I don’t even care…”

I got to where I am because I set small goals. I got here because I only did what was interesting to me at the time and that made me happy. Once I start to feel like I am pushing myself for the sake of someone else’s opinion, I take a step back, reassess why I do what I do, and start again. For instance, I am taking a hiatus from weight lifting. Just to try something new and in an effort to get outside more often.

Fitness was a long journey. I cried a lot. I was tired a lot and I failed so many times I couldn’t count them if I tried. But I didn’t know I was on this journey. For years it didn’t occur to me that I was traveling. And at the risk of sounding so corny you could harvest me, I realized that I will always be on this journey. I will always be striving to be the best version of myself and to make myself the happiest I can be. There are so many more sports to try, classes to attend, moves to learn. It’s limitless.

It wasn’t until recently that I started applying this same mindset to my writing. I used to think throwing a few words down on a page was good enough and that it made me happy enough. But it didn’t. Just like throwing down a few sad sit-ups never made me feel accomplished. (And they still don’t. I NEVER do sit-ups.) I am on a journey to become the best version of myself. I should be writing the things I enjoy and not what I think other people want to read. I’m engaging more with essays and less on blog posts that get sprayed across the internet for a few days and then dissipate. I will write posts that I feel strongly about and for sites that I feel strongly for.

Sometimes, slow and steady does win the race. I’ve accepted that I am not a natural born athlete and I’m not a genius. Little comes easy to me but I am learning to love the effort it takes me to grow. I’ve got sweat on my brow and who knows where I could be in 6 years time…

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