A theme has been popping up a lot in life for me lately; mental strength and exercise. I don’t mean just exercise in general, but being dedicated to a regimen and lifestyle surrounding it. This is not to say that every person needs to have their entire life revolve around being elite at their favorite form of exercise in order to have the type of mental strength I am referring to. Just being a dedicated, disciplined kind of person allows for it.
The whole process of going to the gym is largely seen being done to help us physically. We all have goals or know of people having goals revolving around losing weight, building muscle, maybe even a health problem such as high blood pressure or diabetes. For some of us just getting to the gym every day is a battle. For others the gym is already a part of them and their routine and now it’s about getting more out of those workouts, digger deeper and pushing further. Wherever you fall within this spectrum, each tiny victory is not only rewarding you physically and allowing you to reach these extrinsic goals we place on ourselves, but it is also allowing you to grow mentally and become stronger and more resilient. Every time you make it into the gym when you don’t want to, especially those days when you have 105 really good reasons as to why doing anything else is really important right now are the most important days. These are the days where we grow the most as a person. These are the days when we believe in ourselves just a tiny bit more. These are the days where life gets a bit more sunshine in it. The more of these days we can string together and not only does it become easier to make exercise a regular part of your routine, but life becomes a bit easier to handle as well. Not to say that just showing up to the gym every day will make your life better, but that’s where it can start and then you have to keep building. You have to continuously push yourself to do what that tiny stupid voice in your head says you can’t.
Earlier this week I was thinking about where my fitness journey began. I have played sports all my life and have always had a small competitive side, but the love of lifting iron was something a little different. While my relationship with the gym was not always as serious as it is now, we were introduced early on in life. Going to the gym was always something I did, or liked to think I did. While I had periods in college and shortly after where I took time off for different reasons, I always came back to it. It was home. From the age of 15, the gym has been where I dealt with a lot of my problems, needing a physical way to express my emotions that wasn’t destructive. Of course at 15 I had no idea that’s exactly what I was doing or how important it was to instill this habit of working out and exercise. Having the gym as a hobby throughout most of my life is what’s kept me always trying to eat healthy. Again, it took time for these relationships to become serious and I was playing hard to get for a while. Thinking about all of this showed me how all those times I pushed myself to go to the gym when the covers called my name, or when I pushed out that last rep or moved a little bit faster in the last 30 seconds I was becoming a stronger willed person. I was building a confidence in myself that would follow me outside of the gym.
This is what a healthy lifestyle does for us. It allows us to not only become healthy physically, but mentally. We are able to handle life with a little more ease. We no longer feel stressed or overwhelmed by the same things as we did before. Yes life is still stressful and yes there are still things to worry about, but by becoming a little more resilient we are able to face these problems more head on.