This is me at the gym early this morning before work. I barely had any time to squeeze in a workout this morning and had to choose between showering and washing my hair and working out and, well, you can see what I chose. (Ladies: Wet wipes, leave-in condition, a curling iron and a good strong deodorant work wonders!)
How did I get here? To the point where I would rush from dropping my son off to the gym where I would bust my butt as hard as I possibly could for 35 minutes before having to get ready for work in a crazy mad dash of 7 minutes? Well, it all started when I was overweight and miserable and never moved. I thought feeling tight and achy and anxious and sad were normal. Turns out I was wrong.
I've talked in the past about how my addiction to exercise started to form (during some of the darkest days of my life, when I was 275 pounds and lived my sad life under the shadow of a severe case of postpartum depression). However, I don't know if I've ever talked about exactly how this addiction feels now.
Well, let me share. When I wake up in the morning, my body feels stagnant and only half alive. My mind is pretty much right along with it. Coffee helps a little but I can feel that it's a false kind of "waking up" that I'm feeling. Whether I'm at home working out (which I don't exactly love) or at the gym (which I do totally love), I have the same "drag" that I think we're all familiar with. My legs have a little bit of a lead feeling. It's kind uncomfortable for my feet to leave the ground. I kinda want to lay down and take a nap, maybe have some cake. However, I know what's on the other side of that heavy feeling and my body has come to crave it.
On the other side of that feeling is the most alive, intense feeling most of us will feel in our day to day lives. Our problems shrink somewhere mid-workout. The heaviness is replaced by a lightness that I feel each time my feet leave the ground (for about 20-30 seconds at a time anyway, then I gotta take a break before that light feeling returns).
I feel powerful, I feel determined, I feel proud and empowered that I once again busted down that "I wanna lay down" feeling and threw down yet again. And when my workout is over? I feel truly awake. I don't mean "it perks me up", I mean, my body vibrates at a higher level, my mind is clear (and even clearer when I'm eating properly). My legs have a slightly shaky, wrung out feeling that I've grown to love.
When I wake up the next day, I'm tired again, and now I'm sore! I love being sore. It's my tangible evidence that my body is, once again changing. It also reminds me that it's time to move again. Nothing makes soreness worse than sitting still! So I find a way to work in another workout. Some days I get off work early enough that I could squeeze in a quick workout before I pick up my son. I don't prefer this because I love to start my day off with a good workout. I don't feel pulled together or even as motivated to eat healthy if I haven't worked out that morning. Likewise, I feel like my day is incomplete if I go to bed that night without working out that day. Rest days have become what exercise days used to be for me. I have a very "I'll do it tomorrow, I promise" mentality.
So how do you start to crave exercise? Force yourself just once to do it and pay attention to how you feel mentally and physically afterwards. You'll feel more in control. Your body feels better. You feel hopeful, like you're headed somewhere. I have 2 lists in the back of my planner. One is titled "How I feel when I do the right things" and the other is "How I feel when I don't do the right things". Days that I eat horrible and/or don't work out, I reach the end of my day in a sad state. The world looks bleak.
Perhaps the biggest reason I work out is because it's what fuels me in all areas of my life. I can't put my finger on it but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the more I push myself in my workouts, the more I can push myself in life. I gain confidence and clarity with each successful workout.
So, find an exercise you enjoy doing so you'll stick with it. Pay attention to the whole process. Recognize that the uncomfortable feeling at the beginning of your workout is completely normal and you are not, in fact, going to die. You will find that, over time you grow more comfortable with being uncomfortable. You'll start to see progress in ways like improved insulin regulation (which you'll recognize as less cravings and more energy) and a control over your body that you didn't know existed. Then, one day when you least expect it, you'll wake up to find your body craving exercise like it used to crave cake....although you may still crave both.
Here's some other random reasons why being fit rocks:
- Steps no longer get you out of breath
- Better coordination, less tripping.
- Okay, ladies, you're gonna love this. A stronger core makes you feel everything below the belt at a much more heightened level. Climaxing is easier and better. ;-)
- Everything from tying your shoes to checking the mail just seems easier!
- That uncomfortable feeling during exercise starts to fade and becomes easier to override.
- Oh, and then there's the whole, living a long, healthy life and setting a good example for your children and everyone you love thing.
- And one of my favorite things about being fit is the control I have over my body! I kind of referenced this when mentioning you trip less and feel more, erm, down south. I used to feel like a floating head. I was so out of touch with my body and had trouble controlling it. Now, I like to take steps two at a time simply because I can. One of the reasons I love Zumba is because I love how fast I can now. Although plyometrics (lots of jumping) isn't my favorite thing to do for fun (although it gives you lots more results) I DO enjoy how easily my feet now leave the ground, how light and athletic I feel and how I land like a cat. I love being able to have such amazing control over my body now and I'm always motivated to keep working harder to see just how good it can get.