I just returned from the most beautiful run through our neighborhood. It wasn’t a particularly hard run or even a very long run but when you’re a Minnesotan blessed with a 40-degree day in January, you have to take advantage. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a regular exerciser, and until recently, I’ve been exercising for all the wrong reasons.
In the past if you asked me why I worked out I would have listed off a bunch of reasons that sounded really nice: it’s great for cardiovascular health, lifting weights gives you nice muscle tone, it’s a physical and emotional release. The truth is I exercised out of fear and punishment. After a weekend of indulgent eating I increased my miles on the treadmill. I would justify eating dessert by telling myself I would spend some extra time on the stair climber. It wasn’t obsessive but it wasn’t healthy either.
For a period of time last year I decided to take a break from exercising. I still walked my dog and went on the occasional jog with my husband, but for the most part I took a break from the gym because I was just plain burned out. To my surprise, I didn’t gain weight but I also really started to miss working out.
Taking a break from the gym and the hamster wheel of exercise gave me time to think about the truly worthwhile reasons to exercise. I missed the burn in my lungs after a long run and the exhaustion and joy after a long, sweaty tennis match with my husband. It became apparent to me that our bodies are created to move, and not just because we want to have the world’s best beach body.
These days, I’ve found a new love and appreciation for exercising for all the right reasons. It’s about spending time in nature on an outdoor run, getting my competitive juices flowing while playing tennis, bonding with my husband and dogs on a hike and relieving stress during yoga.
If you’re in the same boat I was in, try this little exercise:
1. Take a Break
Spend a few weeks away from your typical exercise routine. Give yourself permission to quit the gym for a little while and re-examine your feelings about working out.
2. Discover Your Reasons
After taking a little hiatus from working out take an inventory of how you feel. Chances are you miss working out, but why? Make a list of legitimate reasons you miss working out, aside from wanting to look good or lose weight.
3. Find What Works
Ease back into a workout routine by finding ways to get active that coincide with your reasons for exercising in the first place. You’ve probably heard this before but it’s important that exercise feels fun. There are way too many different ways to be active for you to do something you hate. I have a friend who was never an athlete growing up and now she regularly competes in CrossFit competitions. You never know what you might love!
What’s your relationship with exercise like? Have you ever burned out and re-discovered your love for working out? I would love to hear your tips!
Photo by Paul Jarvis