Growing up, I didn’t exercise. At least not in the traditional sense. Sure, I engaged in forms of exercise, but it never had a label.
I rode bikes, ran around with friends, and played sports. However, all of these activities were social – they were fun because I was hanging out with my friends. While I ran around playing tag at recess, did I ever stop to think “hm, I wonder how many calories I’m burning?” Absolutely not.
There have been many times where I’ve missed those days of carefree exercise-without-actually-being-labeled-exercise. The reality is that those days are gone, so I had to learn to love exercise as something essential but not always fun.
When I first starting working out in an actual gym on an actual machine, I hated it. Okay, so hate is a strong word. But I definitely didn’t love it and I most certainly did not look forward to it. Both of which I do now.
It took a while for me to come to terms with the fact that exercise is something that I would have to learn to love. And even when you hit that point, it still takes work. Just like a plant, it needs love and attention in order to stay alive (so to speak).
For me, I really latched on to the feelings that exercise brings me. I feel accomplished, energized, and strong after a good work out. Those feelings keep me coming back for more. I simply know that even when I feel great before a work out, I will always feel even better afterwards.
Over the years I’ve found a few ways to stay in love with exercise. And, yes, to even make exercise something I look forward to.
For one, I always change it up. I go through weeks or months where all I want to do is run – whether it’s outside or on the treadmill, it’s my work out of choice.
Other times, running is the last thing I want to do and instead I want to shake my butt in a Zumba class or ride my bike until the sun goes down.
When I first started running, I made the mistake of thinking that if took time off that I was no longer a runner. Do you have to run multiple times a week to consider yourself a runner (insert any other work out)? Heck to the no. Now I know that I’m a runner because I love running.
For myself, I know that if I do any one work out too much, I’ll inevitably burn out. So I try to notice the signs before hand and switch it up before that burn out occurs.
Even more importantly, I take frequent rest days (whether planned or not). I’ve never been a planner, I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants and work out whenever, wherever.
But if I feel run down (or just plain lazy) I take a day off. Believe me, you won’t lose any progress for taking rest days. In fact, rest days are essential in order to make progress. Those are the days where the magic happens, muscles rebuild, you get stronger, leaner, and maybe even faster.
The take home point is this – exercise has no rules. Now I’m not taking about form, training plans, or anything along those lines, I’m talking strictly in terms of definition.
If you set strict rules/limits on yourself for what exercise has to be or how exercise should make you look – then you’re losing out on the fun aspect of exercise.
Seriously, think back to when you were a kid. Heck, go to a park and watch the kids run around laughing hysterically. Exercise is natural, necessary, and healthy. It’s a shame we have to go through that stage of ‘damn, do I really have to run on the treadmill if I want to stay fit?’
Well, yes and no. You don’t have to use the treadmill, but you probably do have to get your sweat on somehow. Trial and error. Try out different work outs until you find the one(s) that make you happy!
In honor of my love for exercise, I’m going to start a series called Sweat it Out Saturdays/Sundays. Basically, I’m going to highlight my work outs of the week, moves of the week, favorite DVDs…etc. on either Saturday or Sunday. Anything goes, but it will be all about exercise (and sweat)!
I’ve felt as if work outs haven’t been fitting well into my blog posts lately – look at this weird snack plate, oh and I ran 3 miles yesterday – random, right? So the Sweat it Out series will let me babble on about working out. Kind of like I just did in this post!
Alright, I’m off on a fun little trip!