My friend Athena and I have joked in the past about how we are those crazy people who actually love to workout. Very, very rarely do I ever dread going to the gym. In fact, 99.9% of the time I’m actually excited about it and look forward to it. I know- I sound like a crazy person, but before you get all eye-rolly on me, hear me out:
Working out shouldn’t be something you dread. It just shouldn’t. There are SO MANY different ways for you to “workout” that there’s bound to be something you don’t dread. I’m not saying you should love it like I do, but you shouldn’t dread it because that’s just bound to end up inhibiting your workouts and putting a big ol’ black cloud over anything that you categorize as a “workout”.
A workout also shouldn’t be a punishment. You shouldn’t go into the gym with the mentality of “Ugh. I drunk ate too many slices of pizza last night so I need to run an extra mile today” or “I need to take 2 classes tonight to burn off the birthday cake left in the office kitchen” or “I’m feeling really fat today so I’m going to go to the gym for 2 hours to sweat it out”. Why, you ask? Because that’s not fun. And more importantly, it’s not healthy. It’s viewing your body in a negative way and using exercise as a punishment, and who likes punishment? Not me. I’d rather look at the gym or a workout as something I’m lucky to be able to do. Something that is helping to make me healthier. Something that is making me stronger. Sounds more fun, right?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had the negative/workout as punishment mentality in the past many, many times. I would feel guilty if I didn’t go. I would feel gross and sluggish if I didn’t go. I would beat myself up mentally if I didn’t go. That sucked. Making my workouts and going to the gym as something I feel liked I NEEDED to do was really just not fun. And what’s worse is there was rarely a time when I’d finish a workout and be proud of myself and what I accomplished… it was always “I need to do more next time”.
Luckily, over the past 3 or so years- really since I started teaching and learning more about fitness and incorporating more strength training into my program- my mentality has been constantly changing and I can now say I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it. I love the feeling of creating a workout and going to the gym to do it. I love the feeling when I’m able to increase my weights or my speed on the treadmill. I love that I can kick my butt in just a half hour, vs. hours.
So today, I’m sharing 5 (of the many!) reasons why I workout and why I love to do it. I hope that if you’re finding yourself in a rut or feeling discouraged about your workouts, this might make you take a step back and think about why you’re working out and to try and find the things you like about it.
1. I love the energy it gives me! Although I feel physically tired when I leave the gym, mentally I’m totally ignited. I may feel sluggish at the end of the day and not want to go to the gym, but by the time I leave I feel like I’m ready to tackle the rest of my evening. And, likewise for my early morning workouts. It’s never easy to wake up for them, but I feel so energized for the rest of the day by the time I’m done with it!
2. Challenging myself. Every time I go to the gym, I try and push myself a little harder or try a slight variation to a standard exercise I love. I love the feeling of giving myself a little challenge and then being able to accomplish it. Super self-esteem booster!
3. Meeting people. While I prefer to workout on my own when I’m not teaching or going to a class, it’s still nice to get to know other regular gym goers. I’ve got such a wonderful group of “gym friends” from the YMCA and they make working out so fun because we plan to go to things together. Sometimes that’s just the type of motivation you need to get yourself to the gym, right?
4. My health. It’s a no brainer that exercise and clean eating is a healthy way of life, and that’s a huge reason why I workout. I love that I am working my heart and muscles to help me get stronger throughout my whole body. I love that with functional training, every day things like sitting down and standing up, picking things up, stepping up onto something, etc. are just easier. Carrying 75 grocery bags up 3 flights of stairs? No prob! Moving from apartment to apartment? Much easier with muscles. Shoveling? Way, way easier with upper body strength! By staying physically active and fit now, I’m confident that it will be much easier to maintain an active lifestyle as I grow older.
5. The way it makes me feel– physically and mentally. Working out is hard. It’s something we have to actively plan into our days and make a priority and with busy lifestyles, this can be incredibly challenging. However, the way working out makes me feel is what keeps me going back for more. I love feeling strong and muscular and able to do physically challenging things. I love how building visible strength has also helped to build mental strength. Before I tried a pull-up, I thought there was no way I could do it. But, you know what? Once I broke through that mental barrier, I realized I COULD do it. And that right there was a pretty awesome feeling. Whether it’s increasing my weights, trying a new-to-me exercises, trying out a new class or teaching a new format, I love how I feel once I’ve broken a boundary that I didn’t think I could break. It makes me proud of all the hard work I put in and it helps push me to try even more new things and to not let negative “I can’t do that” thoughts hold me back. Working out makes me feel strong and powerful and motivated and all around more confident. And that right there is probably the biggest thing that keeps me going back for more.
Now it’s your turn! You tell me: why do you workout? What makes you love it (or at least not hate it)? What’s something you’ve been able to do because of your workouts? Do you notice a mental shift after a workout?