Falling in Love with Exercise
People seem to have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day – some people love it and some people avoid it like the plague. If you fall in the “avoid” category and believe it’s a hallmark holiday, you still can’t escape it. Love is buzzing around this month. Instead of dodging cupid’s arrows left and right, I have a new way for you to embrace Valentine’s Day.
The focus on Valentine’s Day seems to always be placed people, and I think it is time to challenge that. What if we focus on something that will benefit you personally – something that makes you feel empowered, strong and like you can conquer the world? It’s never going to stand you up, turn you down or leave empty cereal boxes in the cupboard. Yes, I’m proposing that we all fall in love with exercise this Valentine’s Day.
You may be thinking, how in the hell can I fall in love with exercise when I dread the thought of even doing it? Hear me out. I’m frequently told that the amount that I enjoy exercise is not normal. For me, being active has always been part of my life. Whether it was running around the hills of Lake Berryessa as a kid, playing sports or going with my mom to group exercise classes, I was always moving my body in some way. At the time, I didn’t realize I was developing a lifelong habit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important exercise is for my physical and mental health. I notice a difference in my mood and stress levels when I don’t move my body. For me, that has been my motivation to continue the habit I learned as a kid, so I try to move by body daily in a way that brings me joy.
To fall in love with exercise, you need to find something you don’t hate and find a “why” that’s meaningful to you and not related to your weight. While changing your body composition may be a welcomed extra benefit of exercise, it probably won’t help you fall in love with exercise long term. Changing your body composition takes time and involves many factors besides exercise. So instead of stepping on the scale, ask yourself how you feel and how you’d like to feel. Exercise has many physical and emotional benefits that you will feel right away, and it is more effective to focus on those changes. For example, exercise will:
- Improve your sleep
- Help you manage stress
- Boost your mood
- Improve your cognitive functioning
- Decrease anxiety
- Help you manage depression
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen your immune system
- Improve your confidence
- Decrease blood pressure
- Improve your posture and bone density
- Increase your productivity
Surely you can find something from that list that resonates with you. Focus on that benefit next time you exercise and really pay attention to how it impacts your mind and body.
Life seems to get busier by the day and there are so many competing time commitments. If you don’t enjoy the type of exercise you are doing, you are not going to make time for it. It’s as simple as that. Personally, I don’t enjoy indoor spin classes one bit. I don’t understand how pedaling so hard, yet staying in the same place can be fun. I would choose to clean the bathroom instead of going to a spin class. On the other hand, I love lifting weights. I make time in my day to attend classes at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning, because it makes me happy, energetic and confident. The only reason I get up early to go to class is because I know it will make my day better. If I didn’t enjoy it, there’s no way I would leave my comfortable and warm bed at 5am. So, ask yourself, do I enjoy what I’m doing right now? If not, explore something else!
Most importantly, listen to your body. Notice how it responds to different kinds of movement. Don’t force yourself to do something if it doesn’t make you feel good. Recognize when your body needs a challenge and when it needs to rest. Just like in relationships with people, building in balance and knowing your boundaries with exercise is critical to preventing injuries and burnout. Too much of something, even when it’s generally good for you, can have negative effects. Restorative exercise like walking and yoga is just as important as exercise that gets your heart pumping.
In case I haven’t convinced you to start a sizzlin’ romance with exercise yet, here are some first hand experiences from our athletes from the amazing community at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning. After reading about their journey to falling in love with exercise, I encourage you to reflect on your own path. Maybe you don’t feel like you are 100% there yet and that’s ok! Life isn’t a cheesy movie, so it’s not that common to fall in love at first sight. Exercise might take some time to win you over, but be patient and stick with it. I promise it’s worth it.
Allan Sarmiento Perotti, attends mostly evening classes
“Getting healthy and being able to run around with the kids is my motivation to exercise. I also coach sports, so being able to keep up with my son’s team and run laps with them or have the energy to play with them helps. During the fitness challenge, I was motivated by my wife and everyone that was there. The other athletes, coaches and staff were so encouraging that I enjoyed it and made it easier to make it part of my daily routine. I was going almost every day and I wasn’t dreading it. It was such a turning point for me. I love exercise because it makes me feel really good. Some of the unexpected benefits are just that my overall moods are better. I also have many new friends! That was the best part, improving relationships with not just my family, but friends”
Marina Valle, attends mostly morning classes
“I am a mother of three kids and also the primary caregiver to my family. I would like to say that my family is my motivation, but in reality I have intrinsic reasons to workout. I am predisposed to develop diabetes and high blood pressure, due to my genetics/family history, but both conditions are preventable. My goal is to hold them at bay for several more decades. I feel that working out and being the healthiest (mentally and physically) version of myself is a responsibility I first and foremost owe to myself followed, of course, by my family. I have made exercise part of my self-care plan, because I tend to feel happier when I get my workouts done. It’s not perfect and I sometimes miss a workout or two due to life’s unexpected curve balls. I always return to the gym and when I do, I’m welcomed with warm smiles and great workouts
I trust the coaches and the program that exists at Get Fit Strength and Conditioning. I love walking into the gym and not needing to think about my workout. That makes it easy for me to roll out of bed at 4:30 a.m and head to the gym. The people that I have met in class serve as a motivator as well. We don’t hangout outside of class, but I consider these people friends. We see each other everyday and encourage each other to push ourselves to achieve our goals. Over the years, I’ve become stronger and confident in my movements. This past holiday season the gym started a “push challenge” to help us be more consistent with our workouts. I think it was a great way to build community. Several of us would text and encourage each other to get out of bed and show up early in the mornings. We still check in with each other if we’re not in class. This workout community helps with accountability and consistency.
Working out has become part of my daily routine. When I can’t workout because life happens, I miss it. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I use heavier weights or earn a faster time than prior workouts. Getting up most days at 4:30 a.m is no easy task, but the community that I’ve become a member of helps to make it a tad bit easier to roll out of bed. I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted showing up and working hard.”
Dominique Sarmiento Perotti, attends mostly evening classes
“My motivation to exercise is is how I feel about myself. I like how I feel more confident when I’m around other people. I think about my kids and how they deserve a mom that can run around with them and play sports with them. When I started going to the gym, I was exhausted all the time. I felt challenged in my personal life and the things going on. I realized I loved exercise when I would be so busy and I couldn’t get to the gym that day, yet miss it so much. I recently got hurt a few months ago and the only work out I’ve been able to do is light unloading exercises and walking. It was really the pivotal moment for me where I realized that I didn’t just love any exercises, I loved being in a group setting that challenged me and made me feel like I was making progress to my fitness goals
The unexpected benefits for me was I didn’t feel winded walking up stairs, my moods are better and my blood pressure went down. I also loved being able to spend time with my husband and it helped our relationship grow. I felt supported in so many other ways in just our exercise classes. As a woman and mother, I still needed to feel valued by my spouse. Doing this with him helped that to grow for us. And also, I made so many fun new friends.
Although I am not currently doing the group fitness classes because of my injury, I continue to do what I can in small doses because of what the classes help me to build; confidence and improved self-esteem. Also, I love exercise because it truly sets up my habits for the day. If I can get some yoga in the morning in, I will most likely eat healthy the entire day and be more mindful about what I put into my body.”