Why I Work Out
Many years ago, I started working out for one reason: to manage weight. The phrase “calories in vs. calories out” had been burned into my brain and I believed if I wanted to consume certain foods and not gain weight, then I had to work out. Since then, science has taught us that weight control is so much more complex than that simple equation and simultaneously, I have learned that so are my reasons for working out.
I don’t have a lot of people in my life that really understand why I structure my day around getting a work out in, especially when it comes to weight lifting. I have some friends that I occasionally exercise with but I am mostly on a solo mission. I have had a lot of people tell me that they don’t want to get buff or they just aren’t into going to the gym. It’s not everyone’s passion and I totally get that, however, the reasons I exercise, as described below, extend far beyond being buff or losing weight. Of course there are NUMEROUS physiological health benefits of exercise but these aren’t always obvious enough to be motivating for people. Here are some of the apparent changes I have noticed in my daily life and overall personality as a result of exercise.
Exercise boosts energy
I didn’t even realize how much my energy levels had changed since I started a routine of vigorous morning exercise until I thought back on how I used to feel. I was the person that was so tired at 3 pm that I literally couldn’t function. I was to a point where I was drinking a large coffee cup full of espresso and still feeling tired. That never happens to me anymore. I make it through a long workday with with ease (only 1 small coffee in the morning!) and typically crash just in time to get to bed and get a great night’s sleep.
Reduces Sugar Cravings
Along with a 3 pm coffee, I also always craved a 3 pm sweet. Sugar is a temporary solution to an energy low and creates a vicious cycle. Without the energy crash, I rarely think about wanting a sweet treat.
Creates a Sense of Community
We have such a great sense of camaraderie in our small fitness studio. We don’t just know each other by face, we know personal details about each other. We support each other through the workouts and check up when we don’t see each other for awhile. I have met so many amazing people through the doors of Nourish Northwest; people that I never would have met if we didn’t share the common interest of exercise. Similarly, I feel like I belong when I work out at other studios or go to yoga classes. I have never been to a studio in Portland that wasn’t welcoming. Exercise brings good people together in positive environments.
Serves as a Hobby
Exercise is something to do. Whether it’s actually going to a gym or yoga studio or going for a hike, a bike ride or dancing, exercise is how I enjoy spending my free time.
Enables me embark on adventures
I already wrote a whole blog post on this, so I won’t go into too much more detail. If I didn’t spend time working out, I wouldn’t make it to the top of a mountain. I wouldn’t have the strength and stamina to spend a day snowshoeing. I would never know what it feels like to be in the middle of the ocean on a surfboard.
Allows me to achieve daily goals and successes
It feels like a success to make it to the gym. It feels like a success to complete a tough workout. It feels like a success to increase the weight I can lift or the number of push ups I can do. Reaching goals builds confidence, which extends into all other areas of life.
Increases well-being and positive emotions
Those things called endorphins are for real. Exercise not only makes you feel happy but it is a great stress reliever.
It has taught me valuable life lessons
How to persevere, how to be strong, how to breathe and how to deal with difficult situations are just a few of these things I have learned through exercise. Exercise can be very hard, it may not feel good as it’s happening but when you push though it you experience all of the other benefits above. Same goes for many hard situations in life.