A list of five reasons I stay motivated to workout regularly that have nothing to do with weight loss of calorie burn.
As most of you know by now, fitness is a huge part of my healthy lifestyle. Frankly, there’s no way I could maintain a 60+ pound weight loss for over 12 years without exercising regularly. If anything, I need to exercise now more than ever just to maintain the weight I’ve already lost.
With that said, one of the most frequent questions I get from friends, readers and social media followers is “How do you find the motivation to exercise regularly?” After all, now that I’m not longer in weight loss mode, what keeps me going back to the gym, day after day?
This question got me thinking because the truth is, I’m not losing weight right now so what is it, exactly, that incentivizes me to stay active on a regular basis? After thinking about this very question for several weeks, I’ve narrowed it down to five reasons why I exercise (that have nothing to do with weight loss.)
Exercise Boosts My Mood: No matter what the workout, short or long, intense or restorative, one thing is certain: I always walk out with a better mood. Research shows that in as little as five minutes into a moderate workout, you will begin to feel the boost. The American Psychological Association also reports that it can lessen the effects of long term depression. Regardless of scientific evidence, the proof is in the pudding: exercise makes me happy. And while I don’t suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, I do know the feeling of endorphins pumping through the body which always happens after a good sweat. A better mood without a prescription? Sign me up.
Exercise Builds Confidence: As I wrote about in my weight loss success story, I spent all of my adolescence as an overweight kid, teenager and young adult. While I loved to play sports, I rarely got to play because I was always the first person cut from the team. In gym class, I was always the last to finish and often times couldn’t even participate to the same level as my peers due to my weight. All of this amounts to one thing: low self esteem and poor confidence. Fast forward to today: I now exercise with some of the most fit people in my community. I’m doing exercises I never imagined being able to do and often times I’m lifting more weight than my male counterparts. When I travel, I’m not afraid to try a new fitness class because I have the confidence to give it a shot and the self esteem to risk failing. The bottom line: the more I exercise, the more confident I become. This confidence spills into my marriage, friendships, career and beyond.
Social Butterfly Benefit: In looking back through my journey, it dawned on me that I started going to the gym regularly when I began working out of my home. A naturally social creature (I’m an ESFJ btw!), I craved interaction with others and ended up filling that void in group exercise classes. The other thing I noticed was that the more consistently I went to my gym, the more people I met. When you start to see the same faces again and again, it’s only natural that you form a bond. If anything, it’s easy to bond over shared misery of a good workout! Over time, these casual friendships led to social gatherings outside of the gym which has been a huge unexpected benefit of working out regularly. What’s even better is that by surrounding yourself with fit friends who share your same goals, you’re more likely to stick with them yourself.
A More Balanced Approach to Healthy Eating: By lifting weights regularly and elevating my heart rate at least 5 days a week, I am able to have a more relaxed approach to healthy eating. While I do try to eat clean and keep sensible portions as much as possible, I also believe in participating in real life activities such as a birthday party, girl’s night out, holiday celebrations and more. As much as I’d love to BYO quinoa salad to every party or sip on iced water all night, I don’t think that’s realistic in the long term. Remember, I’m 12 years into this journey. There’s a reason they call it Whole 30 not Whole 12 Years. At the end of the day, exercising consistently and staying active when I travel allows me to have a more balanced, sensible approach to eating which I think is extremely healthy.
Setting an Example to my Children: Last but not least, one of my biggest motivators for working out consistently is the example I’m setting for our two young boys. For example, every Saturday morning they know that after breakfast we all head to the gym together as a family. Since we live in a cold weather climate, the kids club at our gym is a great way for my little ones to get their exercise in when it’s too cold to play outside. We talk very openly about staying active to keep our hearts healthy and grow strong muscles. Whether it’s going for a family walk, running around at the park or heading to the gym together on the weekends, I am proud to be raising kids who not only understand the importance of fitness but consider it a normal part of their lives.
What about you? What are your reasons for staying active? What motivates you to get to the gym? I’d love to hear from you.
Your yoga mat is waiting.
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