ETA: I just realized that the first sentence of my post sounds like a humblebrag. Or just a brag-brag. That is not what I intended, at ALL. I spent most of my life thinking and being told I was sort of clumsy and incapable. One time in college I told my mom I was hiking Katahdin and doing the Knife's Edge and she told me that I shouldn't because I'm uncoordinated and would fall and die. So anyway, sorry if it sounds conceited. What I meant was, I just realized like LAST SUMMER that I have actual muscles.
It's taken me the better part of a decade to acknowledge myself as an athletically capable person — even though I naturally have a pretty athletic build and very solid endurance. So the last five years have been a journey in trying to get myself comfortable at the gym, figure out how to do things, and develop a program that worked for me. Last summer was the first time I really committed to a full-on schedule of workouts (if you don't count twice-a-week yoga, which I don't, because I always go to verrrry easy yoga). The result was that I was in the best shape of my life. I was stronger, my body felt better, I ran farther than I'd ever run, and I was eager to do new things. Then I started my PhD and entered a hurricane of first-year stress, and dropped the whole thing. It's not that I "let my fitness go," per se — but I lost a lot of the gains I'd made in muscle mass, speed, and endurance. I was still biking, hiking, etc., but had lost the sense of consistency.
My goal now is to develop a program with 1) a lot of variety, 2) structured "laddering" of goals," and 3) clear targets. I think all of those things will help me stay on the ball — last summer I proved to myself that I could do it, and now it's time to do it well, and do it sustainably.
All this is to say: I've just purchased, on the recommendation of a number of other women, The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. I think that I'm going to use the program described in the book and couple it with a swim/bike/run schedule that will let me at least consider doing a sprint triathlon in the next 6 mos.-year (Schuler specifically notes that it's silly to train for, say, a marathon while trying to gain muscle mass — but I think a sprint-distance tri would be a very workable "other side" to training). There's a duathlon in September that I will probably take on for fun, too.
So, friends — what are your fitness goals? How do you keep yourself active — is it by sticking with a plan, or giving yourself lots of options? Are you a morning workout person like me, or one of those people who manages to kick ass at the gym after 5 (I admire you, for I cannot)? Maybe this is corny, but I thought it might be cool to share what we're all up to, activity wise, so that we can add motivation and encouragement!