Working out has been sort of a constant throughout my life. I grew up as a competitive athlete. I played sports through high school and college. It was just a normal part of my day and I never really though much of it. It was like another class I had to show up for. I even majored in exercise science and worked at a fitness center for several years out of college, so it continued to be a normal part of my life. I counseled people who were at risk for heart disease, teaching them how important it was to get your heart pumping with regular aerobic exercise to keep the heart healthy. It was something I preached over and over again.
As I began to have babies and trying to juggle family, work and all the other responsibilities life gives you, I began to recognize the challenge of carving out time to workout. Once you stop doing something like that on a regular basis, it gets really hard to make it into a habit again.
I am thankful for the power of accountability. I’ve had friends more motivated than me to spur me on to get working out again. I have learned that if I am signed up for a race, in a challenge or Facebook group, I am much more motivated to get my workouts in.
However, there are days when I really, really do not want to exercise. I can think of a million and one things I’d rather do instead. There is not an ounce of me that desires to get my workout clothes on and get out there and get it done. But there’s this little nagging voice that reminds me that if I go too many days without a good workout, I will have to go through that process of getting in shape again. I’ll lose ground of where I am and I’ll have to start over again. I really do not like the process of getting in shape, and the pain and soreness you need to go through, so I force myself to get myself in gear and workout.
Then, something happens. I get my warm up in, I’m listening to some good music or a great podcast and my spirits begin to lift. I begin to push myself a little harder and I begin to break a sweat and my heart is beating faster. I push past the little voices that say “take it slow, there’s no need to push yourself today”, and push myself anyway. I begin to pray and have little conversations with God as concerns come to my mind. I feel His strength surging through me. I truly begin to enjoy the peace of being outside and breathing the fresh air.
As I start to think I don’t want to push myself anymore, I begin to picture difficulties in my life and think about persevering through them without giving up or taking the easy route. My workout becomes training for life. As I push myself through my workout, it reminds me that God will help me through any challenging circumstance that comes along on my path through life.
When I complete my workout, and I’ve reached my threshold heart rate for a period of time, I often feel like I am at the top of the world when I am done. I have the feeling that I can accomplish anything. I don’t understand the exact science behind it, but I do know that there is some truth to getting that heart pumping. The extra oxygen getting pumped through your body and the feeling like you really accomplished something is the medicine you may need to propel you to get that big project done, or begin parenting the way you desire, or to have the courage to seek forvgiveness from someone you’ve hurt.
You don’t have to be an athlete or have a love of running or any sport. But I do know that all of us can benefit from getting that heart pumping. It might just take a brisk walk, or a stationary bike. It might seem like you just don’t have time to squeeze it in, or you are just too tired today. However, I am reminded over and over again that I become more efficient with my time and am more energized for my day when I get that workout in!