Growing up I was not the best athlete at school, and cardio was definitely not my forte in life. However, when I was in Graduate School I realized that I needed an outlet for my pent-up feelings. A friend and I started going to spinning, and since then I’ve needed an exercise routine to keep me grounded and provide an outlet for my feelings. During my exercise journey, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and it can be summed up into five categories.
Accountability is Key
I am not the type of person that can just get a gym membership and actually use it. I need to have it on my calendar, and there has to be a penalty if I don’t go. For me, this has meant going to classes and there being a fee if I cancel within a certain time frame. I’ve found that this system keeps me accountable, and I actually show up for my workout no matter how I’m feeling!
Keep Setting Goals
I am big on setting goals, and I find that it makes me work harder towards achieving something. At the beginning of every year I set new exercise goals, and this year one of my goals was to get better at cardio. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been good at cardio. I remember the mile run in middle school so well because I always walked it. I decided at the beginning of 2017 that I wanted to change that. Over the summer, instead of the usually power walk during the classes I attend, I transitioned to jogging. I figured that I could always try jogging, and if it was too hard then I could power walk. Once I started jogging more consistently, I set a goal to jog for 30 minutes and hit 2 miles in one class. This gave me something new to work towards, and last week I finally accomplished that goal. Setting goals encourages you to push yourself, and because they’re more fluid they allow you to really grow as an individual.
You’re More Resilient Than You Think
You can often push yourself through anything you encounter. This is more of a mindset, but it is applicable to exercise and life. We’ve all been in a situation that we find difficult, and in the moment it’s hard to think that it will ever end. One of my favorite exercise coaches would say, “You’re only temporarily uncomfortable, so you can push through it.” It’s taken me a long time to actually accept this as truth. I used this mindset to accomplish my goal of running 2 miles in 30 minutes. I hated the feeling of being out of breath, but I pushed through the discomfort to achieve my goal. I’ve also used this mentality at work when something frustrating or difficult happens. I just focus on the thought that eventually, it will pass.
Self Care is Important
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that taking time for yourself and/or self-care is essential. When you’re in school or working at a busy job, you don’t necessarily think about blocking an hour or two out of your day dedicated to taking care of yourself. But let me tell you, it is seriously the most important lesson I’ve learned from having an exercise routine. That one hour I spend in a spin or HIIT class allows me to focus on just that- forgetting about everything that occurred during the day. On difficult days especially, my routine allows for mental clarity you wouldn’t get from just watching TV. Once my fitness class has ended I can deal with whatever else I need to get done in the day, knowing I did something for me today.
Create a Support System
Finally, having a strong support system is important. If you already have one, that is great! I’ve found that creating one from the staff and class attendees has helped me a lot. They recognize when you’ve accomplished something and you know that you’re all on the journey together. My friends and family are thankfully supportive of me and my goals, but it’s another level of support when everyone is working together towards a goal.
If you’re just starting off with developing an exercise routine, I strongly suggest trying all sorts of classes. This will help you learn what you do and don’t like. Also, don’t be afraid to spice up your routine with a new class or method of exercise!
Let me know if you have any other lessons that you’ve learned from exercising!
Written By: Hilary
Hilary, 26, is a macro social worker residing in Los Angeles, CA. She loves sailing, trying new restaurants, and traveling all around the United States. Hilary combined her passions and created a blog called, The Cross Country Millennial. You can follow Hilary’s journey at www.thecrosscountrymillennial.com.