Hello friends and happy Wednesday!
Recently I’ve discovered just how important exercise is for me. I’ve always known it is something that I seem to do instinctually and something that I just KNOW needs to be fit into my day in whatever shape or form, but I’ve never thought of it past that. Lately, as I juggle life and work through feelings related to my marriage and my life in general, I’ve begun to notice the difference in myself on days when I exercise vs. days when I don’t.
Before I keep going, this doesn’t mean that I exercise every day in order to keep myself together. In fact, doing just that is precisely what caused myself to fall apart a few years ago. Through trial, error, and experience I am able to determine how much exercise is appropriate for me and I am also very self-aware of any negative or destructive thought patterns surrounding exercise that may try to creep in.
So I took some time to figure out my top three motivations for exercising and I wanted to share them with you. Most importantly, exercise keeps me grounded and allows me to accomplish the things that I need to do in a day.
1. Stress Relief
It’s not so much stress relief as “get my mind right.” I can go into an exercise routine totally overwhelmed and leave realizing that everything in my life is manageable and possible. I have never finished a run or a workout in a worse mood than when I started. I feel accomplished and ready to conquer whatever life obstacle is coming up next. It helps to think about all my daily tasks like a tough exercise–keep going one by one or one foot in front of the other until I am done. I often get the same sense of satisfaction from crossing something big off my to-do list and conquering a 30″ box jump.
The longer I go without exercising, the easier it is for me to fall back into negative thinking about myself. Suddenly I feel like I can’t face the day, I can’t get any articles written, I forgot to buy milk and now I am a failure, the list goes on and on. After I finish a workout, however, I have a clear and energized mind that is ready to tackle anything!
I used to exercise for aesthetics only, which, after awhile, took some of the fun out of working out. Today, I get excited when I decide to use a heavier weight and am able to do an exercise that I couldn’t do before. I like the change in my body from a strength perspective. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to plaster my walls with Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendars and change the wallpaper on my computer to some example of an unreachable ideal. I tried to emulate women with completely different body structures than me and wondered why I could never look the same. Those days are gone, but they were my life for a very long time. Today, I know what my body is capable of and what exercises work best for it. I love feeling strong and being able to set (and achieve!) higher goals for myself.
Along with general increases in strength, I’ve also come to appreciate the functional improvements that I took for granted before. It’s not all about how I look, but rather what I can do. Becoming stronger and more fit allows me to carry heavier bags of groceries, spend more time on foot in the city, and take the stairs at the train station to bypass a congested escalator.
I’m not going to lie and say that my working out isn’t also influenced by what I like to eat. I’ve listed these in order of most important to least, so even though being able to eat things that I want is a factor, it’s not the most important factor. But it makes the top three because, donuts.
I live in Chicago which means that there are 216576514 delicious places to eat. I know myself and my body and if I ate deep dish and donuts without exercising at all, my health would suffer. I’m not just talking about my weight, but all the other fun stuff we test at annual physicals. I also wouldn’t feel right in general. Weekends when I go to town on some cookies leave me feeling lethargic and sleepy, so I need to make sure to move around and get my energy levels back to normal (so I can eat cookies again).
Make sure to let me know what some of your top reasons for exercising are! I hope you have a great Wednesday and have a donut for me!