I want to follow up my recent post on overtraining with a post on why I do workout, because I believe that balance in exercise is extremely important.
Fitness is a huge part of my life, and it is very important to me. It wasn’t always that way, though. I used to HATE it. I didn’t understand why, or how, people actually enjoyed exercising.
These were my two problems. 1) I was trying to fit exercise into my lifestyle for the wrong reasons. 2) I hadn’t found the type of exercise that worked for me, specifically.
I think many people face these two problems, and it’s totally understandable. We live in a society where we are told that we are supposed to work out. More often than not, to look good. When I started getting into fitness, I wasn’t too concerned with “looking good”, but I felt like I should start working out anyways because I thought I was supposed to. It seemed to be what everyone else was doing, and what all the “health” experts in the mags and on TV promoted. So I tried, and I went straight for the cardio. Because again, that’s what I saw everyone else doing.
After about a month of torturing myself by going on runs or using the elliptical, I had no motivation to exercise. I thought, How the hell does anyone like this? The thing was, running is not my thing. I don’t enjoy doing cardio. So I stopped, and I tried something else. And I finally fell in love with fitness because I was actually having fun. Just because running was other people’s thing, does not mean it was mine. And when I found the exercise routine that worked for me, I started exercising for real reasons. Not just because I thought I was supposed to, which is a shitty reason. Once I figured out what I actually enjoyed doing and why, it changed my life.
Fast forward a few months, and the thing I loved so much was working against me. I was overtraining without meaning to, and I caused major metabolic damage to my body. During that time, I lost sight of exactly why I love fitness so much, which is why I took things too far. When I took a few months off and switched to occasional gentle yoga, it gave me the opportunity to reevaluate my relationship with exercise. I finally remembered why I loved it in the first place. By the time I was ready to get back into a regular routine, I had a newfound love for fitness.
Remembering why I really love to workout is the key to how I maintain balance now so that I don’t take things too far again. It’s why it is so important for me to always listen to my body, and to do what feels good. Now I work out because it’s something I’m excited to do, not because it’s something I feel like I have to do. So I want to share with you why exercise is so important to me, and why it will always be a big part of my life.
- It puts me in touch with my body in a way that strengthens my mind. It’s extremely important for me to always pay close attention to how my body is feeling. My body will tell me what it needs. Learning to listen to those cues was very difficult for me at first. I’m comfortable with regimens and following directions. But learning to recognize what my body needs on any particular day has allowed me to cultivate an extremely important connection with myself. Sometimes I need straight-up rest. Sometimes I can lift an extra 10 pounds. Sometimes I need a yoga flow. Sometimes I just need to stretch. Sometimes I want the hardest workout of my life, and sometimes I want the easiest.
- It gives me energy. If I’m having a “slow” day, exercise always turns me around. It makes me feel like a new woman! I’m ready to tackle anything afterward. It’s like my brain is totally recharged. Bring it, world.
- It makes me feel strong. Yes, working out physically makes me stronger, but that’s not really what I mean. There is something so empowering about lifting a heavy set of weights, or holding an extra minute on my plank, or fitting in an extra 5 reps into a timed set – it makes me FEEL strong. Emotionally and physically. I love knowing that I have both the mental strength to achieve a workout goal and the physical strength to work harder if I want to. I like knowing that I can run away from a psycho person in the streets, carry something heavy for a friend, and push myself in difficult situations when it needs to happen.
- It allows me to be creative. Workouts are creative when you listen to what your body wants. You can switch things up every time. The beauty of exercise is that there is no right way to do it (well, besides form and safety, but you know what I mean). It’s liberating. Just moving is creative. I can make up a yoga flow, I can create a random circuit that feels good, I can toss in some old Irish dancing moves from age 7 if I feel like it.
- It relieves my stress. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for many many years now. When I’m exercising, it clears my brain. It helps me focus. It makes me happy to move my body and to literally get my stress out. I take out any built-up anxiety from the day on my workouts, and any negativity gets wiped away.
- It makes me proud. When I work out, I achieve my goal of self-love and self-care. I am doing something good for myself because it is something I enjoy and is something that makes me feel good.
- It keeps me healthy (when done in balance!). My health, mental and physical, is the most important thing to me. I take it very seriously. And I believe that staying active is an integral part of anyone’s health, no matter what “staying active” means to that particular person.
- Above all, it just makes me happy. Literally, exercising releases endorphins that me happy. But I also am happy because of the reasons described above. Because I have fun working out and it just feels good. Why not do something that I love?
Why do YOU workout? Would love to hear in the comments! XO