Krista Stryker, a.k.a. the @12MinuteAthlete, never considered herself an athlete at all. She was the scrawny kid with spaghetti arms, and unlike her siblings, lacked a knack for sports. When she moved to college she stopped being active. Just like that, she called it quits on sports, working out, and even walking. After gaining the infamous “freshman 15” and with bouts of depression creeping in, she took the advice of a family member and sought out some professional help - a personal trainer.
She credits her first three successful push-ups as the spark that led her to the fitness-filled life she leads today. But it took some creativity to get her to fall in love with her active lifestyle. She didn’t suddenly become athletic or enamored with exercise. Here are the steps that she took:
1. Hit rock bottom (or something like it).
While I don’t encourage anyone to hit rock bottom, this is often the space where we go before we allow ourselves to get motivated. The bottom line is, you have to decide for yourself that it’s time to get to work. Whatever it looks like for you, find a space for self-motivation.
2. Take the low-hanging fruit.
You need to know that you can do this. No matter who you are or what you’re working with, you can live a healthy lifestyle. Take the low-hanging fruit first to build your confidence and enthusiasm. Work toward a small goal that you can quickly achieve. Three push-ups, a fifteen minute walk, it’ll look differently for everyone. Whatever you choose, be confident you can achieve it in the first week or two of your new fitness routine. From there, find the next level you can easily reach.
3. Don’t fall into the traditional exercise trap.
Krista hates running. So guess what? Running isn’t part of her daily workout routine. Find what you actually like to do. There are so many ways to be active. It’s okay to love whatever it is that you do for exercise. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot better if you enjoy what you do. Dancing? Of course! Hiking? You bet! Binging on Netflix while you use the stair master? Why not?! Krista is a pro at taking the elements of exercise that she likes and creating her own custom workout regimen that she actually loves to do. She generally does bodyweight-only workouts on a beach and utilizes exercise bars or playground equipment when they’re available. Basically, she goes to the beach everyday. So yeah, she likes to exercise!
4. Set a fitness goal that excites you.
For me, it’s a handstand. If you have a goal that excites you, it’s easier to trick yourself into doing things you may not usually feel like doing. Though you may love a certain type of exercise, it’s still important to make sure your routine is well-rounded and hitting all major muscle groups. I don’t do a lot of strength training. But my shoulders and arms just aren’t strong enough for a handstand right now, so I’m hitting the weights and body circuits because it’s worth it every time I see even the slightest progression in my handstand practice. Maybe you’ve always wanted to do a pistol squat or there’s a dance move you’ve always wanted to nail. Whatever it may be, let it fuel you.
5. Don’t give in to how you “should be” progressing.
If you follow Krista on Instagram, you can see that she is at an incredibly high level of fitness. She works at it every day. Even so, she struggles with comparison and slow progress. It’s frustrating to work on a goal for months or even years and not have results. It’s even more frustrating when a friend or colleague attempts the same goal and gets it way before you do. It happens. Keep your head down and focus on what you need to do. Patience and persistence will pay off.
6. Know that your gender doesn’t define your fitness ability.
If you’re a woman like Krista, there are stereotypes everywhere about what fitness for a woman means and how it should look. Women can’t do pull-ups. Women need fitness just for a nice, toned butt. Lifting heavy can lead to adverse affects on your desirability from men. The list goes on. While a nice butt is a welcomed side-benefit, fitness is fitness and it looks different for everyone. Define your own goals and find a routine that you love. Your own opinion is the only influence you need.
7. Understand the consequences along with the benefits.
Most people get into fitness because they want to look good. But Krista recently had an experience where fitness literally saved her life. She and her family were in a major car accident. The doctor told her that she got through it without any severe or lasting issues because she was fit. Fitness standards to maintain a safe level of health is often reserved for those getting older in age, but the truth is, it can save any life any day.
It’s incredibly empowering to grow through fitness. It affects your entire life through elevated health and confidence. Krista chose fitness for her health and found so much more along the way. It led to a career path she loves in which she empowers others to find their elevated life through fitness too.