Either way, here’s a number of things you’ll be keeping in mind as you start:
1. It takes a routine
Your friend and their new baby start with a couple days of doing all new things; changing diapers often, feeding right after, putting them down to sleep, wake up, repeat. At first it’s fresh and new and exciting; your little angel couldn’t possibly frustrate you—they need you, and you’re there to help them survive.
However, these newborns start growing. This adrenaline and optimism of new parenthood soon gives way to defeat, sleep-deprivation, and more than one breakdown. Alas, the saving grace is the routine that’s been created.
As you get into a new fitness groove, you will experience all of these highs and lows—the adrenaline, optimism, and eventually defeat. Sometimes it feels you’re not getting anywhere, and the only way you will is if a routine is set and it’s not broken—this is where the real progress comes from, despite the feeling of sometimes wanting to give up. Heck, it can even be a little messy at times.
2. There are messes
Your friend may have spared you the gory details of diaper changing, but I won’t. Some diapers are easy—they’re just a little wet, so you wipe real fast, dab some cream, put on a dry diaper, off you go into naptime. Others… well, sometimes babies will silently empty their colons—even when they’re being as cute as can be—and with all that newfound activity, the contents of her diaper can find its way to the back of this baby’s head. No wipes in the world can solve this. It’s time to just dump our kid in the bathtub.
These messes happen in fitness, too. Let’s say you got into your routine and everything is going smoothly; you try a new exercise or weight scheme; and unbeknownst to you, there’s a tweak or injury. The question is—will you futilely use wipes to clean this mess, or be smart enough to take a bath? Perhaps this gives way to,
3. There are things that don’t make any sense
Yesterday, my daughter wouldn’t sleep, her eating stalled, she confused the pacifier with her bottle, and I think she may have planned my suffering from the moment she woke up. I knew she needed to sleep—I knew she needed to eat. Nothing was working, up was down, left was right, and my poor dogs probably assumed she was getting her toenails clipped. There was plenty of sympathy.
Turns out, her bottle had a blockage—with this fixed, she ate and slept according to plan. Sometimes, you’ll run into a plateau that is unexplainable; your eating is on schedule, your sleep is normal, stress is low, yet nothing is making you progress. It takes a little evaluation. Maybe you’re doing everything right, but something’s not sticking out to you too obviously—like your technique. You may have been missing a small tweak to it that takes you to the next level. Yesterday, had I the resources, I would probably have found help.
4. You might need help
If your friend’s baby is sick, they take her to the pediatrician. If your friend’s baby is having trouble latching, they seek a lactation consultant. Perhaps their baby is possessed-- they seek an exorcist.
Fitness culture isn’t what it used to be, and fitness professionals as a whole are getting better and better every day. It’s not like the 80s-90s stereotypes that someone who can curl more than you is qualified to take all your money and teach you to curl. It’s also not like the 70s, where published fitness information is about as good as walking your dog 30 minutes every other day.
Some fitness professionals have higher-tier education—4 year degrees, top-level certifications, a network of post-graduate-level professionals (physical therapists, MDs, RDs) who they can refer to. Some of these professionals even write material (like this).
It’s up to you to find out who you can trust. Just as your friend would rather speak to a pediatrician than their cousin’s husband’s grandma who took care of kids in the 50s, so should you find a professional you trust. Is it the professional who reads lab studies or hotfitnessexzercise.gainz?
At the end of the day, it’s a slow, habitual process that will eventually help you later in life. So while the initial frustration and investment may be more than you initially thought, it pays itself off. You know, like having kids.