7 Reasons to Work Out: Looking at the Big Picture of Motivation
This topic really digs in deep. I could give you a bunch of band-aid answers like “make a great playlist, get a buddy or sign up for a race, or watch a video of powerlifters, dancers and crossfitters.” Those are sparks to light a match - but what is the match made of? All of those things may get you out the door and to the gym, but they are never THE REASON why you KEEP going to the gym, keep exposing yourself to pain on a regular basis. The truth is: you have to find your reason.
Understand that if you keep going to the gym, working intensely and eating well, you will look good naked. Ok, done. But for many people, this just isn’t enough. It seems like enough but this motivation is what leaves a gym rich and empty in February after all those New Year Resolutions lose their charm. You may have to ask yourself some questions to find why you really want to, need to stay fit.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
There are a number of reasons why I keep going to the gym. Unlike many people, my first reason, whether I like to admit it or not, is mental health. Without my regular sweat sessions I get grumpy, irritable, destructive and... aimless. I lose my purpose and drive. To me, that’s depressing. I have known that how hard I work in the gym is a direct reflection of how hard I work in life. Without the gym, all of the focused, ruthless energy turns inward and becomes destructive. Under no circumstances can I live joyfully like that
Change the textbook! Everything that we know about aging is changing because of increased physical activity. When I was in the university, my physiology teacher interrupted a lecture on the degeneration process of aging in order to tell us to take this chapter lightly; that all of this will be rewritten in 20 years because today people are proactive about their health. Activity levels in your teens and twenties directly reflects your body’s constitution in your middle age. That means if you are active young, then it is easier manage your weight and move with ease when you are older. Think about that: the causes of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, even wrinkles change when you are active.
You will get old, but you don’t have to get decrepit! By staying active, you stay good-looking and fresh for much longer. One day I was getting off the bus next to a very shrived, old lady. As I glided down with ease, with a pep in my step from a charming coffee date, she looked at me and said “One day you won’t be so young and you be old and slow, just like me.” I smiled and told her to have a lovely day. I knew that I would never be like her. I will run, jump, moisturize and lift until I die - keeping my world as big as possible, for as long as I can. By setting limits on how you move, or not seeking out new ways of moving, you physical abilities will grow smaller as you age. Those that don’t move grow into the the cane, humpback, broken bones, wrinkles, heart problems and dementia.
HARDER TO KILL
I would be lying if I didn’t list this as one of my primary reasons for working out. I know I can put up a ferocious fight. As you experience your body getting stronger, you wear your strength like a sword and shield. You heart is stronger, your breath, your arms, legs, core, immune system and mind are stronger. You become a super charged version of yourself. You move differently - even when reaching for a cup. This is an especially powerful feeling as a woman. Now when I see the creepers on the street, I don’t always know if I will win in a fight, but I know my attacker will definitely be limping back.
For years I wanted to be the girl with the thigh gap, delicate collar bones and dainty arms. And for a couple of unhealthy years, I was. Although part of me thinks this body type is pretty, I really like that I can row a boat for 5 kilometers and backpack for a week at 5000 meters elevation. I like climbing trees and walls, wrestling with my boyfriend and riding my bike until my lungs burn. I am proud to say that I can haul a body through the water safely back to land from 2 kilometers off shore. I take great pleasure in the things that my body can do. I catch nearly every bus and tram I sprint for. Looking the girls in magazines, films and runways, I am no longer envious of their body, but am able to appreciate their art. I think instead about how much fun my life is.
PIZZA AND COOKIE NIGHT
Once a week, I eat a whole, large pizza. Sometimes a box of cookies. These are Sundays. With every bite, the Ghosts of Workouts Past flash through my brain and remind me of how I earned this. It’s like, the best pizza ever - every Sunday. Because of all of our obsessions with six pack abs and leaning down, sometimes it is easy to forget we are human and we invented awesome stuff like sweet potato fries. Ok, that’s not hard to forget, but remembering that discipline is a muscle and needs to be relaxed every so often, is hard to forget. Also, overeating and cheat meals are good for muscle repair. Yes, I said that. So earn your treats and enjoy that pizza more.
Hot, sweat, heavy breathing, going harder, faster, longer. Sex or workout? Using your body is a sensual experience. It ignites passion and desire. I don’t workout in booty shorts and a bra but my workout clothes might as well be lingerie because that is how sexy I feel. It is just me doing this for me, and that is the greatest form of self love. Fit people have better sex; endurance, strength, stamina. All that good stuff. Just ask all the olympians how they pass the time in Olympic Village.