I’ve recently incorporated strength training into my wellness routine. I’ve got a new gym membership and have really enjoyed lifting weights and running on the treadmill. I’m having fun and feeling good and sweating a ton, and still practicing yoga! I’ve had a history of annoying gym experiences in the past that totally turned me off; but I’m glad to say that I’ve grown past all the fitness and weight loss garbage and can now finally enjoy my workouts. Just for me.
I want to share with you what allows me to have fun at the gym, (hint: the key is to stop thinking about weight loss). I’m hoping you can use these tips to motivate yourself to get on the stair climber, the elliptical, the track, the pool, the basketball court, or the yoga mat. Whatever is fun for you.
1. Endorphins are awesome, and work instantly.
Ever hear of ‘runners high’? It’s the ‘feel-good’ feeling you get from working out. Exercise releases a whole bunch of feel-good chemicals, including endorphins. However, feelings of body shame or inadequacy can inhibit these babies from working their magic. So if you feel unworthy of working out due to pressure to lose weight, you need to shake that theory in order to get the most out of your gym session. Start by practicing self acceptance and making peace with your body. Then breath deep, take it one step at a time, clear your head, and let the natural high kick in and take you further.
2. You get ‘Me time’
Going to the gym with a friend is great. But you can also get into a routine where you go on your own. Make a playlist that you love, and zone out while you sweat. It can be hard for many adults (especially women who have families) to get any time to themselves. But if you get a few hours a week where you can be away from the family and hang out at the gym, your family relationships can actually benefit. So go ahead, soak up the self care.
3. Running shoes are the BEST!
My mom and I went on a 4K power walk in the west coast over the summer. We spent almost the entire time ranting about our running shoes, we had rarely worn them outside of the gym and couldn’t believe the comfort!. My mom is a shoe aficionado and won’t let anything that isn’t orthopedically sound touch her feet, (and I’m much the same). But both of us couldn’t help agreeing that our awesome running shoes were really just the best things to walk in. If you find the right pair of runners, you’ll feel like you’re walking on just-firm-enough clouds that cushion and support your feet. Plus they come in an array of funky colours!
4. Getting stronger feels WAY better than getting thinner.
I took a year-and-half off weight training and just focused on yoga. When I went back, I hadn’t lost any weight, but I can lift nearly three times as much weight as I could 18 months ago! How cool is that? Yoga has clearly made my muscles stronger, which is cool, and I love feeling like a power-house she-hulk as I pump iron. So rather than waiting for the numbers on the scale to go down, watch the numbers on the weight stack go up as you feel the burn!
5. You cherish your mobility
Many of us have been blessed with the gift of comfortable mobility. If you are young, chances are you can walk and dance around pain free. But please, don’t take it for granted. Arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and a whole slew of diseases can take away your mobility in a heartbeat. However, many of these and other conditions can be prevented or delayed through strength training. Even if you are diagnosed with a condition that affects your mobility, if you are already strong you will have an easier time accommodating to the symptoms. While you can’t prevent everything, don’t you think it’s worth building strong muscles that can hold you up for as long as possible? To me, the ability to walk and run pain free is worth working hard to maintain, and is a way better motivator than weight loss. So stretch, run, jump, and lift so that your muscles can hold you up for as long as possible!
Being healthy is more important than being thin. But you knew that already didn’t you? OK just don’t forget it again please.
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash