It’s hard to come up with new posts on exercise because I do a lot of the same things over again. We’ve heard a lot about my running successes and woes, which I was discussing with my mom earlier. Both her and my dad have taken up running and they have noticed how one day you feel phenomenal, while the next day you feel awful. You just have to keep going. Obviously if the awful feeling is born from pain that is physically hurting you, then you should skip it, but otherwise, the type of exercise that makes a difference is the kind you do when you don’t feel like getting it done. Running is the most fickle form of exercise because it can be affected by water or food intake, temperature, or energy levels.
Strength training is similar but not as bad because you can do a lot of improvisation and take breaks in-between sets. When I’m not feeling my strongest but I know I have to get through a workout, I’ll focus on fewer sets and reps, working through the moves slowly and feeling how it affects my body. I notice the effects of rest days best when it comes to strength training. A day of rejuvenation helps to repair muscles and I come back feeling stronger and get through a longer, harder workout.
When I get to the gym or hit the streets, I can tell almost immediately what kind of day it will be. At my strongest, I can safely push myself, try new exercises, and go for a longer or harder routine. Then there are always the days where I’m going through the motions and counting down the seconds. When this happens, listening to music helps to focus the mind away from exertion or I will come up with story ideas that I play through my head. This will occur more frequently during my running, swimming, or other longer cardio sessions because I am doing the same thing for so long. With strength training, I move so quickly from one thing to another and do a variety of different exercises and using different equipment that I easily stave off boredom. I’m lucky because I’ve reached the point where I do genuinely enjoy working out, but I am still human and prone to having those days where even thinking of exercise makes me UGH.
Pleasure from exercise for me is born from a feeling of productivity, strength, and stress-relief. I am a natural organizer, attached to my planner, love making to-do lists, but love checking items off that list even more. Knowing that I am going to exercise and that I have one definite bullet off of my list checked off gives me a weird sense of satisfaction in the same way that I love having folded and put away my laundry, cleaned my room, or organized my desk.
When I first started my exercise plan, I knew I had one great thing in my arsenal, mind strength. There was a moment where it all clicked and I knew I could do it. That courage helped a lot when it came time to starting exercising and trying out new routines. Realizing that your body is so strong should not be surprising, but the truth is, we spend so much time out of check and focused on other things, that we don’t always allot enough energy to ourselves. I may not love doing Burpees, but I love knowing that I can. Push-ups are also a pain in the ass, but I had a deep moment of pride when I transitioned into doing them full out. Exercise is a way for me to better connect and understand my body that I have otherwise ignored. It’s similar to how you have to listen to the signals your body sends you when eat, what foods work, what doesn’t. You may not agree, especially if you despise working out, but exercise is also a gift. It’s taking the time to, as Parks and Rec declares, “treat yo self.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again 1000 times. I would not have gotten through my Fellowship without exercise. I’ve seen a lot of people cut working out from their daily plans when things get busy because it’s the obvious thing to step away from, especially if you don’t love it. Trust me, I get it. There are so many things that go into a day and not enough time if you actually want to sleep, but dedicating thirty minutes to an hour out of a day to exercise shows that you are still taking care of yourself, keeping your energy levels up, and will help you focus. I was lucky to fit my exercise in during the hour between my work day and my classes starting. Whether I had a horrible day or a great one, lifting those weights, performing those moves, or going for a run was my saving grace. I was able to let it all go (ELSA COSTUME YAY), give my mental muscles a break, and bust it out physically. It worked. It worked. It worked. My number one word of advice, fit in exercise in any capacity for any amount of time in any way that you can because it will make you stronger mentally and physically.
That being said, I can feel my body adjusting to my current exercise plan. As much as I’ve been enjoying it, I know that I have to mix things up in order to keep my body guessing. It kind of stinks sometimes that just making the effort to exercise doesn’t always get the job done, but creating a new work out plan can be exciting and up your motivation to get it done. Hopefully I’ll take the weekend to develop a new plan and share it with you next week!