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Working out your self-control muscles

Posted December 4, 2016

My friend invited me to go to a High Fitness class recently. I was totally motivated to go, until she texted and said she would no longer be able to make it.

“I’m so sorry! You should totally still go!” She said.

“At the risk of looking and smelling really awesome,” I wrote.

Sometimes at these types of classes, I feel like I should have showered and gotten ready before working out. Most of the women in the class had makeup on. Most of them had hair that was pulled back in cute half-buns or clean pony tails, and most had on designer, or at least fitted, workout apparel.

And then I walked in the room. Late, no makeup, my hair in a messy pony and wearing my mom’s old workout clothes. I don’t think I had socks on. And my pants hit right at the spot that makes the most skin hang over the top.

So basically I looked gorgeous, and I knew everyone was jealous of the way I was flapping around awkwardly, acting like I could totally stay in the squat position for four straight songs.

About halfway through the night, I noticed a boy in the back had his phone out and was actually filming us.

“Mind if I post this to social media?” he asked.

“Not at all!” the other women in the class said.

“Yes! I mind!” I screamed (in my head.) But I forced a smile and said, “Sure, you can post it.” (I don’t mind looking like the one who people point to and say, “See? If she can do it, you can do it!”)

That night, I went home discouraged, yet determined. I didn’t want to feel less attractive when I worked out. I wanted to feel good about my body. I wanted to have the kind of energy the other girls in the room had. I didn’t want to be the one to have to modify all the moves because I didn’t have enough stamina or energy. I wanted my own workout clothes.

Basically, I wanted to be back to my normal “old” self.

“I was totally the grandma in the room,” I texted my friend. “Seriously, all those darling girls with the rockin’ bods and I’m the four-kid-year-old still trying to lose the baby weight.”

I came home that night with a new goal of working out every day. Then, I got realistic with myself and changed it to working out at least three days a week.

After a week, I stepped on the scale. Not one bit of difference. And I felt so discouraged. Instead of feeling more motivated, I felt like eating more pie. If working hard isn’t producing results, why bother? I should just eat junk and be happy!

But I wasn’t happy, and it wasn’t because I thought I was overweight. I just felt, well, sloppy. Sloppy in my workout habits, sloppy in my clothes, sloppy in my discipline.

Feeling frustrated after a long day and extra tired after a quick yet intense workout earlier that day, I turned on the radio. Joel Osteen, a televangelist and senior pastor, was on talking about not giving in to the feelings of the flesh. He said our bodies will try to tell us to eat that pie, to sit and watch that show instead of work, or to give in to temptation instead of resist. But farther down the road, we will regret those “fleshy feelings” and wish we listened with our spirit.

It takes self-control to do what is best for our bodies. And it can be difficult, like working out is for me. It’s much more comfortable to sit on the couch and watch my favorite TV shows.

“If you’re always comfortable, you never grow,” Osteen said.

How many times have I said, “Oh, it’s OK to eat that. It looks good.” Or, “I’ve already done so much today. That can wait until tomorrow.”

It’s hard having discipline! But lasting results take time, whether you’re building your body or your character.

My goal is that at this time next year, I will be writing a column about how persevering and working hard gets results.

And possibly wearing designer athletic wear.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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