Why Exercise?

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Healthy Eating, Life

Better question – why not?

In some way or another, I have been involved in sports since I was very young.  Swimming was probably my first real activity since my grandparents have a pool and my mother was a swimmer.  It was natural.  I taught myself to swim.  I’ve never had any proper lessons and I didn’t even start training for a real team until I was a Freshman in high school.  I was a natural.

Additionally, throughout my life I’ve played most sports – including but not limited to softball, field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, swimming and competitive cheerleading (and don’t even bother trying to tell me this is not a sport – I will school you on this).  Basically what I’m getting at is the fact that I have been conditioned since I was young to incorporate activity into my daily routine so it is pretty natural that I have a hard time taking a day off from exercise.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve obviously found new activities that provide the same kind of workout I used to feel from these activities.  My exercises of choice are usually running, Spinning(TM), Yoga and occasionally swimming.  But the real question is, why?  Why do I feel so incomplete if I miss a day?  Why is it necessary?

We all know how great exercise can be for us and we all know it helps fight off disease (obviously not all but for the most part, it helps more than if you didn’t exercise).  Don’t believe me? Check out 7 Benefits of Exercise from The Mayo Clinic.  Regardless, I knew what it did for me.

My benefits from exercise:

  1. Health – I always feel better after I workout.  I love the expression “you’ll never regret a workout” because it’s entirely true.  How many people do you know are upset after they workout?  You’ve done something good for your body and your mind.  The endorphins alone help make you a happier person.
  2. Attitude/Disposition – I was happier on days I worked out and I still am.  Although I am better now than I was when I was younger about not getting mad for missing a day of exercise, I still feel more lethargic on days when I don’t workout.
  3. Routine – I am a big routine person.  In fact, I am happiest when I have a routine to follow – even if I am not doing the same thing every day – as long as I have a schedule or something to work around (ie. a workout), I will do much better at accomplishing things.
  4. Socially – although I am a solitary exerciser and tend to do things that do not require a partner, I love to meet new people who are interested in the same kinds of exercises I am.  This is one of the reasons I love to teach Spinning.  I have met so many amazing people through this and I am so thankful for my interest in staying physically fit.  It’s also awesome when you have other people who are genuinely interested in staying healthy too – it makes your journey (whatever it may be) a lot easier.  You have a support group – which is amazing.

When I was going through my ED, I used exercise in the wrong way.  I was focusing on the wrong things.  I was determining how long I needed to workout to get rid of the calories I was putting into my body.  Truth is, I was very sick.  Since I went through therapy and treatment I have now realized (10 years later) that I need to eat to live, not live to eat (or not eat).  Basically what that means is in order for me to do the activities I want to do – ie. run marathons, iron mans, Spinning – I have to eat and take care of myself.

For the longest time, during recovery, my doctors told me I had to stop working out.  That was the worst thing they could’ve told me.  Because despite the fact that I was using exercise for the wrong reasons at that time, I knew that if I didn’t have that routine, I would have spiraled.  So I compromised to cut down on the amount of time I was working out (3 hours) to just 1 hour.  It was not easy at first but looking back on it, I don’t know how I was able to do 3 hours of working out in a row!

But I digress – after I got better, I figured out a way to make the hour I worked out more effective and still feel like I was accomplishing enough.  I knew that I could overcome my ED and still keep exercise in my life.  It was and still is important to me.  Exercise keeps me “sane” and allows me to stay balanced.

What does exercise do for you?  How does it make you feel?

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