My Journey with Fitness & My Winter Workout Uniform

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Shop this outfit and my favorite running & winter accessories here!

It is no secret that I LOVE to work out. And two of the most common questions I get asked is how to find time as a mom and my favorite inexpensive workout clothes. So I thought it would be neat to let you in on a little secret…

I didn’t always work out.

Actually, I didn’t lift a single weight until about 10 years ago. I never participated in team sports, only individual (horseback riding, tennis, etc), so athletic conditioning wasn’t a part of my life.

I got married at 20 and started a desk job. It took no time at all to pack on ten pounds and I just felt gross about myself. And as a newlywed, living in a new state thousands of miles from family and comfort, it wasn’t a great time for me. I felt awful physically, mentally frustrated and down on my physique, which affected all aspects of my life. I never had to think about what I ate or intentionally being active. All of a sudden my lifestyle changed so much, from working retail on my feet all day to a desk job and hitting up the snack machine and Pizza Hut too often (it was walking distance…) Still, I needed to make some changes.

Thus began my fitness journey.

Now I know, I was not overweight. But I didn’t feel good in my skin. I felt sluggish. I knew how it felt to be operating at a higher performance. I think bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. But our bodies are a temple of God, and we need to take care of ourselves and be conscientious of what we put into our bodies and how we operate physically.

So with all that said, I knew I needed a change. I didn’t know how to work out. My job at that time had a deal with a local gym for very inexpensive memberships, so my husband and I decided to join. He was always very active and fit, but I didn’t even know where to start. So the first few weeks I would wander the weight floor and do his workouts with him.

I hated it.

I was bored. I wasn’t excited to work out. I didn’t see results as fast as I wanted, and I felt like I was wasting time. I was frustrated.

Then, I saw a friend from church who attended the same gym. She was leaving the group fitness room after a Les Mills step class. So I chatted with her about it, and decided to give it a shot.

It was AWFUL.

But. I had a blast! It was engaging. The music was pumping and exercises were dynamic. I felt challenged, and my mind had to be engaged the entire time or I would literally trip over myself and fall on the ground. I looked like a baby deer trying to navigate across the board and felt so silly. But I persisted. I continued to go to class, and every time I went I liked it even more. I got really good! And I got stronger. I tried to be more mindful about what I put in my body. I traded Pizza Hut lunches for Greek yogurt and granola.

I lost the weight I put on, but I gained more than that. I gained confidence in my body. I learned that exercise is more than losing that desk job fluff. I learned that sweat was good for my soul. I realized how empowered I felt when I could do difficult things with the body God had blessed me with. And how capable my body is.

I participated in Les Mills classes for the year I lived in Florida. I did step, dabbled in spin, and took a few weight classes. I got more confident in trying new things.

And then we moved to Connecticut. A close girlfriend of mine and my sister were avid runners. I was not a runner. At all. Like so much so that I couldn’t even run a half mile. I had exercise induced asthma, so I couldn’t take a deep breath basically as soon as I got going. I would get so frustrated! But I didn’t let that stop me.

A mile would take me 12 minutes. On a good day. But I kept going. I would run as far as my lungs would let me, then walk. And then I would run when I had breath again. It didn’t feel good and I had no idea why people would put themselves through this, and on PURPOSE.

I started with a mile. And then I started running more than I would walk. And soon I realized that I was running the whole mile without stopping! I couldn’t believe it.

My favorite headphones

I continued to take gym classes and ran when the weather was nice, but never going more than a couple miles. I focused mostly on weight classes and spin classes (warning- spin feels super awkward and uncomfortable at first. Stick with it to get the feel of it and you will LOVE it!).

Then I had my first child in 2013. I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy and attribute a lot of my easy delivery and recovery to being fit. I started running more. Being out in nature, alone or pushing a stroller, was very relaxing and I found a lot of peace. My mileage started to tick up. When Scarlett was about 5 months old, I competed in my first 5k. I didn’t break any records, but I loved the competition and feeling of accomplishment!

Fast forward to 2015, and I ran my first half marathon. My second child was about 8 months at this point and was a huge accomplishment for me (moms of colicky/attached babies know what I mean!).

In 2017 I ran another half marathon. We built a home gym which helped make sure I got my workouts in. At this point I work out every day, waking up at 4 am before the kids were up. My focus was mostly weight training programs and I completed 80 Day Obsession- taught me SO much consistency! (contact Natalie Erickson for details) and Move Sweat Shred– talk about challenging and amazing compound movements! We got a Peloton and my obsession for spin increased astronomically (Contact me for a referral code or if you have one, follow me @nicolewarner!).

In 2019 I started going to Barre and it challenged me in a whole new way. Small, refined movements that focused on form and function. It was what I needed, especially now recovering from carrying and delivering three babies. I got back into tennis which I played most of my childhood. I also ran more than I had ever in my life. I had finally reached the point where running was therapy, especially in the wake of Marcus’ death.

So basically, what I am trying to say, is you just need to start. Start somewhere. Anywhere. And keep going. Don’t stop. Keep working and you will see results. Be patient and consistent. Find a time that works for you and your life. Like I mentioned before, there was a time when my kids were super young and all at home, and the only quiet time I had to exercise without clobbering a child with a dumbbell was at 4 am. Before I had kids, it meant packing gym clothes before work and heading there right after. Now, it is more when the older kids go to school and I have just one (or no!) kid.

Plan ahead and prepare for success. Make it a priority, because your health IS a priority. Not only is it physically beneficial, it is mentally mandatory.

Keep. On. Moving.

It doesn’t matter where you start. It matters that you keep going. You will get better. You will get stronger. You will get faster.

Now in January, running in the (frigid) winter this year has forced me to think more seriously about my outdoor running wardrobe. I am not a huge proponent of inexpensive workout clothes because of the lack of quality and life, but I found these AMAZING leggings that I basically live in and changed my mind. The fit is perfect, the material is just stretchy enough but not see through, and they are only $29 (and come in a whole bunch of awesome patterns!). They are my most purchased item by far! I learned very quickly that layers are key. And the right accessories make all the difference.

Click here to shop this look and my favorite medium-cold (I don’t know if that’s a thing but I am making it a thing!) weather running gear! Also some of my favorite running accessories like my headphones and sneakers. The list is by no means all inclusive, but I have included some of my favorite items. Please reach out if you have any specific questions or requests!

AND speaking of running… if you are local to New England, make sure you register for Marcus’ Memorial 5k run/walk (& kids fun run and festival!) this fall! Check out the website for details.

Speaking of fitness goals, did you check out what I accomplished last year? Look here to find out!

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure to join the @nicole.warner community on instagram! Follow me and shop me outfits here. Don’t miss out on updates and inspiration! You can also join my Facebook community and follow my current interests over on my Pinterest. You can register for the Marcus Warner Memorial Race here. Buy a copy of Marcus’ book here.

photos by Bekah Scadding

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