I’m human and I do have days when exercise sounds like more of a chore, but I have certain philosophies about health and fitness that give me the motivation I need to lace up my sneakers and get my butt moving. I recognize that sometimes feelings follow action, and I really can’t recall an occasion in which I regretted time dedicated to health and wellness.
I’m not talking about a physical self-image here. I’m not immune to vanity and a toned physique doesn’t not appeal to me, but it’s a relatively minor perk in comparison to the substantive, internal confidence that comes with feeling yourself grow both physically and mentally stronger over time.
Nothing looks as good as healthy and strong feel, and there’s a real sense of empowerment that comes with putting in the work and seeing results, setting goals and surpassing them, and discovering that you’re stronger than you ever knew. Your self-image starts to change, and you begin to recognize personal traits such as strength, power, discipline and resolve.
I love getting my butt kicked in 4×4 and Metcon classes, pushing myself to what I believed was my limit, and beyond. I feel so much stronger afterwards, and not just physically. Overcoming the mental challenge and persevering through some discomfort feels that much more satisfying, and this training can 100% be applied to life outside the gym as well. Cultivating this mindset takes time and dedication, but I truly have developed a stronger sense that no matter what comes my way, I can handle it.
Working out is self-care
I don’t consider exercise to be a form of compensation or punishment for poor nutrition choices, or as a way to change parts of my body that I dislike. I work out because I love and cherish my body and all the amazing things it can do. It’s so easy to take our health for granted, but when it takes a hiatus we realize just how much it matters. Exercise is one of the greatest self-care practices. My gym time is valuable time that I have all to myself to dedicate to my wellness, to unwind and sweat out whatever stress or worry is plaguing me.
Whether you prefer the gym, a fitness class, or moving outdoors, working out can truly be really fun. It just takes time, patience and exploration to figure out what you enjoy. My preferred weekly routine is two days on weights and two days in classes, with a little bit of stair climbing mixed in. There are so many options, there really is something out there for everyone.
Exercise promotes mindfulness
As a somewhat anxious (and mildly impatient) person, taking the time to tune into my body and get into a place of mindfulness is crucial. Physical exercise is inherently mindful. During a particularly intense workout session, my attention is drawn to the physical aspect of what I’m doing. It pulls me out of my head, away from my tendency to ruminate, and into the present moment.
I find the practice of yoga to be especially well-suited for mindfulness, so it’s ideal if you’re like me and you can’t yet get yourself to sit still and meditate. For me, yoga is probably the best combination of both physical and mental practice that I have found thus far. (If you think you’re not limber/flexible/patient/etc. enough for yoga, that’s exactly why you should practice 🙂 ) I genuinely believe that my practice has granted me more strength, patience and grace in dealing with other difficult situations off the yoga mat. If I had to describe yoga in two words, it’s quiet strength.
As an aside, I’d also like to address the misperception that yoga is just for people who like to sit around in Lululemon, stretch while listening to spiritual music (or silence), and do flowery poses. I’ve seen guys who look like they put in decent time in the weight room struggle in some yoga classes. I love weights, especially for targeted and focused training, but yoga tends to be more functional movement and I really believe that both forms of exercise have their place in a holistic fitness regimen. I also will not intentionally attend a class that doesn’t have a good soundtrack, because music makes class fun!
Have anything to share? I’m always eager to learn about health and wellness, so I’d love to hear any class/workout/general fitness suggestions!