It’s not a surprise that gyms are spilling along the nation and are booming with business, now, more than ever. When initiating the journey to fitness, it truly is anything but easy. However, once the body is disciplined to press its limits, the drive to push the body will become more natural. In high school, I yanked my butt out of bed at 4 A.M. four out of the five school days, only to bust it at the gym with some extensive cardio and an intense pump at the weight rack. It wasn’t until I noticed my horrendous sleep patterns that I realized I was doing my body more harm than good. Having an efficient workout before sunrise is already challenging enough; imagine doing it all on under four hours of sleep. No thanks!
I always knew that working out was a way to honor the body; essentially making it the strongest it can possibly be. I was also aware that I felt good during and after, however I recall now, only going through the motions- never truly absorbing the workout entirely and letting it heal my internal blemishes. Although I’ve always been an active individual, it wasn’t until this past year that I truly found the deepest satisfaction with exercise as my mental medicine.
Back in high school- attending school from 7 A.M. until 3 P.M., only to rush to my job to work 4 P.M. until 10 P.M.; I recognized that the only time available for me and me only, was from 4 A.M. until 6:30 A.M.. I began working out incredibly early in the morning because it was my only option; my body dislikes staying up late much less than it adores waking up before everyone else. By following this vicious cycle, I now realize that I fell into an extremely unhealthy trap; putting exercise over sleep; always going- even if I was running on three hours of sleep or was sick, simply because I convinced myself I needed to and that “off days” weren’t an option. My time at the gym became a necessary appointment, no matter my condition; getting there was half the battle, and once I was there, I went through the motions of working out since my brain told me I needed to.
Honestly, it wasn’t until I began my first collegiate semester that I woke up (much later than 4 A.M. after a full night of sleep…) and realized that working out should never be “squeezed into” the day if the body is screaming. Essentially, I found a job at a gym where I am able to work weekends only, and even then I work the morning shift, so I’m clocking out by 11 A.M. and have the entire day to work on my mental and physical practice as well as actually get homework done! I find myself with an abundance of time, which is very helpful in showing myself the TLC my body actually needs, especially on the weekends following a draining week of school.
As for my workouts, I still treat them as appointments at the gym. I isolate my muscle groups and have specific days for specific muscles, which is a motivator in itself; not wanting to throw off the particular schedule! Exercise has done incredible things to my body and mind, and I find that my day truly isn’t complete without a workout. The timing fluctuates slightly depending on how I feel day-to-day. Instead of going every single day at 4 A.M., I listen to my body and decide which time is best for me: if I wake up energized and ready to hop on the treadmill at 6 A.M., I will. If I’ve had a stressful day and need to wash it all off at the gym at 5 P.M., then I will. Listening to my body has been the most influential towards my success, no doubt. I feel the need to go to the gym just as much as before, if not more often, but that’s only because now I find my mind and body totally in the moment and enjoying every second.
Listening to my body is my 2017 new year’s resolution, and I’ve never felt better. I’ve seen internal and external gains, because I’ve become infatuated with the process of exercising, and feeling that mental release from all the stresses of the world. It is because of this that I am the strongest I’ve ever been, which seems crazy- I’ve been on countless sports teams my entire life and have always been active. Instead of treating your workout as a dreaded appointment with the doctor- looking to “fix” your physical blemishes, try and treat it as an appointment with your therapist- not saying you’re going to become stronger mentally and physically, but actually consciously acting on it- recognizing the fantastic things you're doing for your brain and body. Push your body to its limits mentally, and watch yourself bloom there first. As you grow mentally and work hard- engrossing yourself with the stress release- you will begin to see results. You’ll never say, “I have to go to the gym” with an eye roll ever again.