Hey all, happy Thursday! It sure feels good to be home and back in the routine. No matter how awesome vacations are, it always feels great to get back home and organized. Now that our camping trip is over I will be able to be much more consistent with my marathon training. This week is still a little mixed up because I had to switch some workouts around for our trip in the beginning of the week, but by next week everything should be settled.
Yesterday morning I ran a quick (well, not quick by any speed standards, but quick meaning it was a shorter distance run;) 4 miles. When I got home I completed my post run strength exercises and got thinking about how satisfying working out is.
As I filled out my training log for the day, I thought about everything that I have gained through regular exercise and workouts. My fiance used to exercise regularly, but has fallen off the bandwagon this past year. He eats pretty healthy meals and moves around a lot during the day at his job, so he has never had any health or weight problems, but I started thinking about everything he is missing out on by working out.
The media has a really terrible way of changing our perspective on exercise and often makes us feel like it is something we have to do in order to be thin, pretty, popular, etc. I often see exercise portrayed as some sort of punishment: “I ate 3 cookies today so I have to go to the gym and run 3 miles later to burn that off… If I don’t burn it off I will feel terrible about myself and not be pretty anymore.” (I realize this may be a tad extreme, but I sure have heard girls say almost this exact thing!)
It is so sad to me that many people think of exercise as a punishment, and dread completing it. While I definitely have my days (many of them;) with low motivation to get off the couch and get it done, I am always so grateful for the positive image that exercising and working out holds in my mind.
My entire perspective on myself and life in general has changed along with my workout routine. When I first started working out regularly, it was mostly to get in shape and ‘look good’. I never thought that I wanted to work out to make my body healthier, get stronger, or mentally tough. This later evolved to an obsession with running and running only, which was very therapeutic, but still lacked something. These past two years my view on exercising has remained centered around running, but has become much more well rounded. While running is the core of my love for exercise, I have willingly (and excitedly) cross trained, found different body weight exercises, different forms of cardio, lifted weights, ventured outside, and found many fun activities that count (in my mind at least) as a workout.
Looking back on where I started, I see just how much I was missing in my life before I started working out. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
Things I was missing before I started working out:
Seeing improvement each week is so helpful for creating a positive body image. There is nothing more satisfying than adding reps, holding a move for longer, being less sore after the same workout, running more miles than you ever have, or crossing a finish line.
Each and every exercise you do will benefit you. Whether you are pushing yourself to the limits, or repping it out with an easier move – if you are doing SOMETHING, that is absolutely better than nothing.
Oooh, this is such a great thing. EVERYONE should feel proud of who they are and what they have accomplished – no matter how big or small. Working out and exercising in a healthy way promotes such a positive body image.
5 years ago, the thought of running 26.2 miles was something that I NEVER thought I could accomplish. With each training cycle, the miles build up and you run farther each week than before. In cross training, you ride a little faster, do the moves a little easier, or use heavier weights. Everything seems impossible until it’s done.
Once you start working out, whether at the gym, in nature, at the track, or in the comfort of your home, you automatically have a community of like minded people in the world. Community can mean many things to different people; it might mean just noticing some friends posts on social media and seeing that they have started running too, or it might mean starting a race standing with 400 other people with the same goal. However you need it, it is there to help you.
More so than anything, I think exercising and working out regularly has improved my mental strength. It has allowed me to prove to myself that I can run 20 miles, and that tired feeling I’m experiencing is actually just in my head. It has given me a skill that I can translate to every other part of my life – yes I can make it through this job that I hate, or this really tough spot in life, or the death of a family member. Our minds are so much more powerful than we think.
Before I started working out, I was never aware of the fact that I was stressed and anxious. I never noticed how uptight I was, because feeling that way was my ‘normal’. Now that I regularly work out, I can absolutely tell a difference in my anxiety and stress levels on the days that I do not exercise. Physical activity is, in my opinion, the absolute best way to reduce stress. If you think you do not have time to exercise, then that is when you need it the most.
If there was ever something that I needed to improve for myself and my relationships, it would definitely be patient. I am incredibly impatient. I wish things could happen exactly when I want them to and go crazy in my head when I have to wait. With that being said, I have made improvements in this category as I’ve grown up. I believe a large portion of these improvements are due to exercising. Running has proven to me that patience pays off – trying to run 20 miles in the first week of marathon training would end up doing more harm then good. Waiting until you are ready is always worth it.
Running, home workouts and everything in between have pushed me to my limits and continuously improved my endurance. My body continues to impress me each week with the distance it can run, the reps it can complete, or the weather it can run through. Endurance makes us strong and prepares us for the inevitable slow, rocky times in our life.
Similar to stress reduction, exercising helps me to be more present throughout the rest of the day, as well as during my workout. The past two years I have been running music free and I love it. Running out in nature has a calming, meditative quality to it. There is nothing but your thoughts and the sounds of your surroundings. This slows my heart rate and sets me up to really enjoy the moments.
The list could go on and on, there are just so many gifts we gain through working out. If you have fallen off the bandwagon or just never really cared to start, I guarantee you will surprise yourself when you do. You are truly missing out if you have not made this wonderful gift a part of your daily life. It will change you for the better, I promise.
Have a terrific Thursday! Don’t forget to get that sweat on.