If you asked me 10 years ago, “why are you working out?” I would have said, “because I want to look like a Victoria Secret model, have 6-pack abs, and lose a few pounds”. After all, this is what society tells us to do if we want to lose weight, right? In our current world we have completely lost sight of the importance of being active, and we now look at it as a chore instead of something we do because we actually enjoy it.
For most of my life I was never very invested in fitness. I did dance, soccer and cheerleading, but beyond this, I thought working out meant running five miles on the treadmill which is the last thing I wanted to do. Running is a talent I have always wished to acquire, but for whatever reason just cannot get into it.
Shortly after I started working full-time after college I realized how much time I spent sitting down. I went from a very active lifestyle in college where I walked almost 4 miles a day to and from class, and was standing on my feet all day at the retail job I worked at. I quickly realized the “real world” involved a lot of tush to chair time and I knew it was time to find something active I enjoyed doing.
Then and now I use a fitness service called ClassPass, which allows me to hop around different studios and also experience different types of workouts. Using ClassPass I discovered things I actually enjoy doing. I would lay in bed and sign-up for a 5AM spin class because I wanted to go to spin before I went to work in the morning. I kept thinking to myself, “who am I?!” Fast forward a few years to today and I have discovered the true importance of working out and why it is so important to find something active you love. Being active…
Improves Your Day + Mood
This might sound absolutely ridiculous, before I spent my active time doing things I loved, I would have said you were crazy at this thought. The only thing getting me through Saturday’s workout was knowing I did not have to do it on Sunday because it was my delegated rest day. Once I found activities I loooooove, and I mean, love, live, breathe, wish to do these things all day, I noticed how much better my days were when I got to engage in these activities. I also noticed how not as good the days were when I did not do them.
Makes You A Nicer Person
A few years ago I went to a yoga class and the instructor said in our class closing, “for every person who is rude and grumpy to you today, be patient with them. They clearly did not get out of bed to do yoga this morning like you did.” It may sound so lame but this thought has stuck in my head every single day. If I am running through Target, one of my favorite past times, and someone is being not so pleasant, I will actually laugh at myself in my head and think, “they clearly did not go to yoga this morning”. I am sure I am not the first person to ever tell you this, endorphins make you happy.
Teaches You How to Believe in Yourself
A key aspect of life is being your own cheerleader. If you want to wake up when your alarm goes off at 4:30AM, meet new goals, and make progress, you have got to believe in yourself. When I was a teenager, my workouts would get difficult, I would get uncomfortable, and I would quit. Finding activities I love and thoroughly enjoy doing made me want to be better. It taught me how to know something is hard, how to know when something hurts like you know what, and how to believe in yourself enough to get through it. Fight the negative thoughts in your mind and overcome them by showing them who’s boss.
Holds You Accountable
I will actually give all the credit to ClassPass on this one. Using this service taught me if you do not get to class, there will be consequences. Part of being active is being accountable. Whether it is going to the class you signed up for so you are not “that girl”, whether you are motivated by the friend who is meeting you there or the teacher you told you would see on whatever night of the week it is. Being active allows you to grow in the accountability department. The best part, after finding activities which fill me, I do not need external factors to hold me accountable. I show up because I know even after the longest day of work when I am so tired and this and that and excuse after excuse to not go to spin run through my head – once I get there I am so happy I sat my excuse filled self on a bike. I hold myself accountable because I know it will simply make me better.
The Value of Goals
I never really understood the idea behind personal goals until I started becoming active. I found this natural tendency to want to push myself harder in my SoulCycle class, to focus more in yoga so I could do the poses I never thought I could do, and to finish the last rep on the pilates reformer. It is not about sitting down and saying, “I want to run a marathon in 6 months”, it is about sitting down and having an idea, a desire, and figuring out what you are going to have to do to get there. It is about keeping yourself in check every single day, in every class, and celebrating the small milestones which lead you to the finish line. After setting goals in my active life I now set goals in all aspects of my life. It helps me grow, improve and lead my life with purpose every day.
Being active is not about looking or feeling. While these things are great they are physical changes which do not lead to long-term growth. Figure out what puts your soul on fire, what changes your heart, what challenges your mind and what gives you purpose. Once you discover this you will find the real reason and purpose behind being active, it is much more than a number going down on a scale.