I’m not going to tell you how to exercise. There are plenty of gyms, videos, and professionals for that. I just want to tell you how exercise has changed my life and encourage those who are not physically active to start something!
First, however, I am going to give you permission to take time out of your week and spend it just on yourself. If you didn’t need that, great, skip this paragraph. You are miles ahead of where I was when I started my fitness journey, a year ago.
Yesterday, you heard from Aaron Nash, the “boss man” at my fitness facility. He was on vacation when I started. About a week into my trial of the gym, I meet him for the first time. He said something during the workout that may be the reason I’m still there paying him money, who knows? He said, paraphrasing from memory, “this is your 30 minutes. You are worth 30 minutes of your time and energy. You give everything to everyone, all day. This is for you. Be selfish. You are worth it.” I teared up right there in the middle of the workout. His words “you’re worth it” felt warm and true and like the breath of air I was struggling to take for so long. So, before you read on about the benefits of exercise, if you are thinking I don’t have time. I am saying, you do, and you are worth your time. You deserve this for yourself.
April 2017, I was scared to death walking in to the gym. I hadn’t exercised in 5 years. I could barely do a push-up (fell twice trying to do one). I stepped on the scale for the first time in probably six months –I haven’t owned a scale since I recovered from bulimia. I weighed more than I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my children. I cried the whole way home. Once home, I started stretching out on my living room floor. My dog, Jake, thinks if you are in the floor, you want to play. So, he started rolling around on me and just in general, started being a pest. I decided to take him for a walk. I hadn’t done that in forever. In fact, that day was the first day in months that I didn’t take a nap. The first day in months that I did more than the bare minimum of housework needed to stay hygienic!
I kept going back for workouts three to four times a week. My husband was so thrilled with my improved attitude and energy, he encouraged me to sign-up for a membership. For several months, I hid in the back of the group and scooted out without talking to anyone. But the more I came, the more comfortable and confident I grew.
Eventually, I started talking to other members and making friends. Then, I’d see their Facebook posts on days I didn’t go and be sad that I missed it. Therefore, I just started coming every day they opened the doors. Every workout was hard, but somehow the trainers and the friends made it fun. And when it was over, I felt like I conquered another new challenge and couldn’t wait to come back the next day.
I’ve been on a year-long adrenaline high. I went from completely sedentary to now working out five to six times a week. I went from napping every day to having extra energy. I went from eating junk (the carhops at Sonic knew my name) to following a “meal plan.” That’s what I like to call it, because it’s not a diet in the fad or temporary sense. Moreover, I want my young children to be receiving positive messages from me about food and exercise. I want them and you to know that you should exercise to be strong, healthy, and energetic, not because you need a different body in order to like yourself. You may need an improved body to live your full life, though. I did.
Exercise should not be a punishment for poor nutrition. It should be coupled with proper nutrition. In fact, Aaron Nash pounds it into our heads, (you heard yesterday how enthusiastic he is about this stuff!) that you cannot out train a bad diet. Exercise is good for the mind and the body. Yes, my body has improved in lots of ways, but that’s not what gets me to the gym on days I’d rather stay in bed. It’s the addiction of the endorphins! It’s the pride from increased strength and endurance. It’s wanting to stick around longer for my kids and be more present during the time we have.
Fitness is the means to the end of living a fuller life. It’s just a piece of me, not my Ruler. – Becca Spear, Plateau
That’s my story of how fitness and healthy living helped me climb out of the pit of depression. In case you’re still not convinced, I also found this lovely list at www.kidney.org.
Benefits of exercise:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease
- Build strength and endurance
- Cope with stress and anxiety
- Sleep better
- Prevent injuries
- Build self-confidence and self-esteem
Here are some suggestions on how to make physical activity a habit in your life, if it isn’t already:
- Find something you like. If you hate running, don’t decide you are going to run 2 miles every morning. You won’t stick to it.
- Find people who motivate you. Notice, I did not say find a workout buddy. I’ve had lots of “workout buddies” that ended up bailing on me, and then I had an excuse not to do it.
- On that note, realize this is for you and only you can do it. If your friend can’t make it to the gym on Friday, that doesn’t mean you don’t go!
- Schedule it. If you just wait for a nice time to go for that walk you said you’d take, you’ll get busy or distracted. I have a set time I go to the gym. Sure, sometimes that has to change, but it’s my time. I honor it and protect it.
- Track your growth, and not just with the scale. If you are needing to be at a healthier weight, we track through inches, pictures, weight, and body fat percentage. Sometimes gains are seen in ways that aren’t reflected on the scale. But tracking gains in increased ability is hugely rewarding.
- Move! Stop reading about it and waiting to feel like it, get up and get going!