How To Get Stronger, Smarter and Better All At Once

I always thought that making and keeping a commitment to fitness takes years. Not a day, not a week, not even three months – years! I could not be any more wrong. It took two weeks! But let me start from the very beginning…

In high school I hated physical education class and barely attended it. It was a really bad idea because I failed a running test. Instead of running, I walked most of the track and botched the test miserably. My PE teacher called my mother and told her that if I don’t shape up and run or at least attempt to run, I won’t be allowed to take graduation exams (the school system in my country is different from the school system in the US).

At sixteen I was not fit to run. I smoked like a chimney! What running are you talking about? But I had to buckle down and attempt to run. It was imperative to pass the running test and take the graduation exams. A great future laid in front of me and the only obstacle in achieving this future was passing the running test. The physical part of the test, the track, the PE teacher and his stop watch was a nightmare that is impossible to forget. I’ll leave it at that. Lesson One – quit smoking.

Years later, I was in the US attending college. By then I quit smoking and attempted a few work out sessions at the gym with my friends. My best friend used to run on a treadmill, watch TV and tell me about her love life. All at the same time. She was a multitasker. I barely could breath while briskly walking on the treadmill next to her. The whole experience was pretty overwhelming: her fit body, iron lungs and constant talking. I stopped working out. Lesson Two – choose carefully with whom you exercise.

Six years and twenty extra pounds later I started thinking about signing up for a gym. But I made a big mistake. I overestimated cardio, hoping to shred twenty pounds in ten days, and pounded endless miles on the treadmill. Don’t misunderstand me. Cardio is a good exercise that makes your heart stronger. My misconception was that cardio was supposed to burn all the extra fat I acquired during my years in college fast and efficiently. When it didn’t happen, I gave up, accusing genetics of all my weight problems. Lesson Three– cardio is not a solution to your problems.

Then the unexpected happened. My husband started to work out three times a week. He was lifting weights and doing a very little cardio. I suspiciously watched him lose weight, build some substantial muscle and change his body in a surprising way. His transformation inspired me, and I signed up for the gym again. Yes, third time! This time I started lifting weights and since then I never looked back. It took exactly two weeks to see changes in my weight and my body. I finally made a long-term commitment that I was afraid to make for years. Lesson Four – find the right exercise and stick to it.

As a result, I became stronger, smarter and indeed I live better.

Stronger: it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, old or young, don’t be afraid of weights. You simply need to adjust weights, lunges, squats, repetitions to your level and capabilities. You will notice your body getting stronger, leaner, healthier. You will not need to spend long boring hours laboriously pumping away on some treadmill or elliptical. Weight training builds muscle mass and increases your metabolism. What else do you need?

Smarter: my food choices improved significantly and I am eating much healthier. Once I started eating healthy, I found that I no longer crave junk food (oh well… I still do but very rarely). I believe that healthy diet starts with choices we make at the grocery store. Try not to shop hungry to avoid impulse purchases. Try to plan meals for the entire week, so you know what you are shopping for. Please don’t over eat. American portions (I blame my extra 20 lbs on it) are much bigger than European portions. Portion control is essential.

Better: exercise will improve your life. You will make healthier and smarter choices, reduce stress, get adequate sleep and build a stronger immune system. Oh, and don’t forget – you will look better too!

16 thoughts on “How To Get Stronger, Smarter and Better All At Once

  1. Miss Rosemary

    This is great! And considering I’ve been eating the Oreos my mom sent me nonstop also inspirational

  2. Brown Eyed Mystic

    Loved the inspirational post, Aloysa! Keep ‘em coming!

    This is really a synchronicity, because lately, I’ve been doing a freelance assignment where I have to research about Jon Gabriel and prepare questions for interviewing him. And in that need, I read his book THE GABRIEL METHOD in straight 2 days. The book speaks of no-nonsense methods to lose wt with NO dieting whatsoever. It tilts toward the mental side of controlling and losing wt. You should have a read, lovely concepts; I had such a blast!

    Happy for you! Keep up the good work!


    1. aloysa

      I need to check this book out.
      Yes, losing weight, exercising and staying motivated it is partially mental and partially it is endorphins. I love the great feeling after working out. Thank you for your kind wishes, Brown Eyed. You always cheer me up!

  3. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    Hi Marina, excercise is my life line. Mainly I walk. I go quite fast and swing my arms and I do some weights exercise too – 2kg weights and some fun exercise DVDs. I get some good music on my iPod and have the time of my life. Sometimes I mix things up with a bike ride, surf or swim. I’m no iron woman by any stretch of the imagination but I do love to exercise slowly! It’s a great way to start the day and it really does make me stronger, smarter and better in every way:) Love that headline! Keep up the great writing and exercising.

    1. aloysa

      Annabel! What a nice surprise! Thank you for visiting my blog. It means a lot!
      Exercise can be a life line indeed. I am glad that walking works for you. It didn’t work for me. As I said – find the right exercise and stick to it.

  4. Kaya

    Aloysa, this is great post!!!!! And very inspiring. I even began to think about exercising again. I did it before religiously and stopped. I think I became lazy… After reading your post I will try to lift again weights. Probably, I will start with 3lbs (didn’t lift them for a long time) and will definitely be careful about my diet.

    Thank you for such an inspiring post. And all my best to you.

    1. aloysa

      I am very happy that I inspired you. It is always hard to start but if you do and find what you like, something that works for you and doesn’t bore you and keeps you going, it is the best stress relief you can find. Apart from meditation… Thank you for you kind comment. Best wishes to you!

  5. batyler

    Glad you found something that works for you. I lift weights once a week (in a class) and do a fair amount of cardio (heart issues run n the family, so we must keep the ticker strong). I’ve discovered that I don’t mind exercise as long as I have my trusty iPod. If the music is missing, so is my motivation. Thanks for sharing your tale.

    1. aloysa

      Without music I cannot excersise. With Ipod the whole experience is different. In fact music drives me to step up and really push myself.

      1. Batyler

        I know exactly what you mean. I tend to match my pace to the beat of the music. Fast songs work up a sweat quickly.

  6. Ollin

    Great post! This is exactly one of the areas of my life that needs fast improvement. You know I never thought of finding the RIGHT exercise for me. I always wanted to feel joy when I work out, but I just never do. I dread it before I start, I dread it as I do it, but I only enjoy it afterwards, when I feel relaxed and less stressed.

    Any tips on how to make the experience more enjoyable and motivate myself to actual start to excercise?

    1. aloysa

      The only thing I can say – experiment. I hate running so I do High Intensity Interval Training after weight lifting for 8-10 minutes and I am done. It is fast and very efficient. I love weights because they bring the fastest results that are also long-lasting. As far as motivation … hmm… this is tough. Fast results motivate me. What would motivate you? Maybe a work-out buddy? Good looks? Fit body? Improved immune system? LOL

  7. Tricia

    This makes me want to retrieve my Billy Blanks DVD from between the sofa cushions, brush off the potato chips crumbs, and fire it up.

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