Finding The Joy In Fitness

Finding The Joy In Fitness

This year, resolve to shed unhappiness along with pounds.

It's the time of year when suddenly gyms are packed and everyone optimistically swears to get into better shape. Unfortunately, within a month or so, the crowds at the gym will dwindle as the list of New Year's resolutions gathers dust in a drawer somewhere. Why is better fitness one of the top New Year's resolutions if it's one of the hardest to keep? I propose it is an issue of perspective. This year, resolve not to drop pounds or lower calories, but rather to focus on finding a fitness plan that brings you happiness.

This is not a simple task. Misery is easy. Happiness is hard. So let's take a look at 10 ways you can work on pursuing the joy of fitness.

1. Consider who you are doing this for

Bottom-line: The answer needs to be you. Really think about the fitness goals you have come up with and assess why you want them, or if you really want them at all. If you are running a mile a day just because your doctor told you to and you find you actually hate everything about running, then stop. (Don't tell your doctor I said that.) Goals meant to please other people and not yourself are unlikely to last long-term. Even if you are working out for health reasons, don't think about how you're doing it for your doctor, significant other, children, etc. Think about why you want to feel healthier and stronger. Do what you want for yourself. It's OK to be selfish about your own body.

2. It doesn't have to be expensive

The cost of a gym membership, classes, equipment, etc. can be daunting for some. Those just starting out exercising may especially want a cheaper way to dip their toes in the water. Fortunately, there are a lot of options that won't break the bank. Activities such as running, hiking, and dancing to your own music are all free. Youtube, and the internet at large, are great resources for finding free workouts and fitness tips. My personal favorite is Fitness Blender, which offers a variety of free videos online, as well as options such as meal plans and workout programs. Do some research and find the videos you enjoy.

3. Try something new

It is easy to get into the rut of doing the same workout over and over. Not only is this boring mentally, it also is ineffective at continually challenging your body. So, why not resolve to go on a little adventure and try some new, fun kind of workout. That could mean swimming, kickboxing, tennis, mountain climbing, tap dancing, whatever. Focus on some activity you have always wanted to try, and then just go do it.

4. Address areas of pain

Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for, and pain is their way of telling us something needs our attention. Think about what parts of your body are sore, stiff or tire easily, then consider what you can do to ease the pain. This could mean strengthening a weak set of muscles, stretching or non-exercise activities such as massage or acupuncture. Whatever it takes to eliminate the pain from your body will set you on the right track for a healthy lifestyle.

5. Focus on actions over results

Our fitness success is typically measured in pounds or inches. We fall into the trap of focusing just on the end result and, when the journey to that end result gets rough, it can quickly seem like a hopeless task. It is perfectly fine to have specific result oriented goals, but put them on the back burner for the most part. Think instead about the road map to the result. Come up with specific actions, such as working out five days a week, or eating three servings of vegetables a day, that will lead to the final goal. Focus on those steps and leave the scale alone for a while.

6. Make it personal

Exercise can seem like drudgery, but try just changing your perspective. Think of it as high quality "me" time. It is a time to take care of yourself. You can be alone with your thoughts or spend the time connecting with a friend. You get to pick whatever exercise method you want and have the privilege of taking care of your body. Working out can be a very therapeutic experience. Use that time to nurture your mind, body and soul. It's all about you, after all.

7. Stay positive

Apply the concept of positive reinforcement to your fitness plan. Rather than telling yourself you can't eat that doughnut, tell yourself that you will eat a healthy home-cooked breakfast. Instead of chastising yourself for binge-watching on Netflix, praise yourself for your yoga session. Acknowledge if you slip up, but don't dwell on it. In the long run, a few lazy days or unhealthy meals will not affect your overall health. Focus on what you have done and still can do.

8. Be a child again

Children have a ton of energy. Watch them in a park or playground and you will see the little darlings running all over the place, jumping and climbing and having a great time. Now, maybe you should refrain from such behavior at work or school, but let your inner child loose a little. Run wildly around your home. Go to a playground and swing. Jump on a trampoline. Climb a tree. Play. Have fun, and let that feeling of fun attach itself to the sensation of your body in motion.

9. Find beauty in the ugliness

We tend to approach workouts as chores to check off a list. They aren't considered pleasant or pretty, just something we have to push through. Maybe you hate waking up early for your morning workout, getting sweaty, and having achy muscles. Those feelings are all valid, but you should really learn to love the grossness of exercising. Working out isn't really that glamorous. It's heavy breathing, soaked clothes, gulping water, and burning muscles. It's not about enduring the uglier aspects of exercise. It's about living in the moment and learning to love every part of the experience because you know it ultimately brings more health and happiness into your life.

10. Break the rules

You, and you alone, are in charge of your body. You make the rules, and that gives you the freedom to break them too. If one method isn't working for you, change it. Screw what anyone else has to say. It is OK to take days off from working out, or to eat a slice of cake. Really. It won't kill you. What will sabotage your fitness journey is getting so obsessive that any slight deviation from your original plan hits you as a major failure. Be kind and flexible with yourself. Make your goals, but don't let them control you.

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Give Your Heart And Mind A Break

Taking care of yourself should be at the top of your to-do list.

I have always been a studious person. I would make flash cards for my vocabulary tests, form study groups with my friends and wake up before the sun to study for an exam. As I grew up and coursework became more rigorous, I did all I had to do to ensure an "A". Sometimes, this meant giving up something dear to most of us: sleep.

When I started high school, I had no idea how vital time-management skills were going to be for my survival. I walked into the building on my first day and was quickly blindsided. I began to receive enormous amounts of homework. My book bag felt heavier than me and the bags under my eyes were darker than a cold winter night. At first, I simply stayed up doing all the work, and somehow made time. All was well until I added extra-curricular activities, something colleges love.

I joined my school’s Mock Trial team and again, walked in blindly, having no idea how intense the experience would be. I was not prepared for my schedule at all. I took as many classes as my school would allow, which at the time was nine. I even took my mandatory gym class during something called “X Period” at seven in the morning, to fit more classes in during the day. The rest of my classes opened at eight. At the start of the year, I thought I was undefeatable; sleep was not something I needed, I could do anything and everything at once.

I would wake up at six in the morning, head to my gym class, then I’d spend nearly seven hours in class, with a small break for lunch at noon. After that, I’d run straight to my Mock Trial practice, where I would stay for 2 to 3 hours. I spent all day exerting my brain in class, and then I voluntarily went to exert it even more. My first year on the team was rough. I had to be trained and I had to learn everything about Mock Trial. I was assigned the role of a lawyer after auditions, which meant more dedication and a heavier workload.

My daily schedule seemed bearable to an outsider, but my family and friends knew something was deeply wrong with me. I would nearly fall asleep during my early morning classes because I would work all day and then stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning to complete all the homework I had, and to review for my Mock Trial competition. My teachers began asking me if I was okay in the middle of their lectures and my school counselor questioned me about my schedule multiple times. I was a mess. I did not allow myself to even think about the words, “break”, “rest”, or “relax.” I wanted to be superwoman; I yearned to be a two-handed juggler with twenty things to juggle.

After months of me not sleeping and developing heart palpitations from my lack of rest, I decided it was time for change. I went to my counselor and adjusted my schedule. There was no way I would leave Mock Trial because I loved it, and to this day, I am grateful for the experience I had. She helped me sort things out and told me something that I’ll never forget. She said, “You want to do it all at once. Take a breath and go at your own pace. Things will only work out once you put your health first.”

Her words stuck with me. She helped me realize that I was doing more than enough and that if doing even more than that meant sacrificing my health, it was not worth it because, in the end, I would do twenty things badly instead of five things thoroughly.

At the time, I went on Tumblr a lot and I once saw a post that read, “Mental Health Days.” The post said that when possible, we should all aim to allow ourselves to have a day to relax; to get away from all the stress our lives bring. Sometimes we begin to fade away because we have no time to re-paint over the withering colors.

I incorporated this into my life after that and began to take a day off from school about two to three times per semester, or as needed. I picked days where I knew I did not have tests to make up later. I knew I would have work to make up, but that was okay. I felt better after having a day to myself. I would go back to school feeling replenished and happy. My mind was rested and ready to learn, and I could complete extra work with ease. This experience helped me learn that taking care of myself was extremely important and should always be at the top of my to-do list.

When I started college, I wondered if these rest days applied to life after high school. One of my professors was giving a lecture about time management. She told us that it is important to have days to ourselves and that when she felt like she truly needed it, she would take up one of her sick days to stay home and recollect. Her reasoning was that although mental burnouts would not necessarily be placed in the same category as the Flu, they affect your body as well, and can lead to you becoming prone to illness later on.

Don’t ever think that you are weak for needing a break from time to time. We are all human. We burn out and sometimes need a new match to light us up again. Everyone feels exhausted if they don’t get proper rest, and unfortunately, in our country, sleep and mental health are often frowned upon. Americans have to be constantly working or studying. Failing to do these things carries a stigma in the culture, which is why many parents are against their kids missing any school days unless they have a fever or a bloody hand.

If you’re still living with your parents and they don’t understand that sometimes you need to put your mental health first, try to explain to them that taking a much-needed break will only make you more productive. Be judicious about the number of breaks you take, because there is a fine line between taking a breather and laying in bed for days. A healthy amount of rest will get you on the right track.

If you feel overwhelmed with your schedule like I did, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust to help you sort things out. You can definitely go to class, do extracurriculars, and work at a paying job, but you must first learn to manage your time and disperse it evenly so that you feel good and give your best to all you do.

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You Should Understand All Aspects of Abortion if You Want to be Against it

The State Government of Ohio Has a New Bill That Could Possibly be a Dangerous New Law

I am in a liberal bubble and I do not like it all the time. But I have something to say to the state government of Ohio.

Both my parents are republican, but I had never identified with their beliefs. Though it usually causes me a lot of grief to stick up for my views on any current political wave, I never change what I think. Unless, of course, someone gives me a good reason to change my mind.

One thing that will probably never change is my view on abortion. I feel from my past experiences and observations that abortion has an undeserved stigma behind it. I’ve heard some people say things like, “one trashy girl gets 6 abortions and she ruins it for everyone.”

I thought about it and I have decided I do not agree with this statement. There are so many factors for this person getting an abortion. Maybe she is uneducated about birth control because she grew up without access to doctors and gynecologists. Maybe she is experiencing a serial rapist. Maybe she chooses to have unprotected sex but still has the cognitive capability to understand she can’t properly raise a child. Regardless, it is none of your business and certainly none of mine.

Bodily autonomy basically means my body, my choice. But a lot of demographics and parts of the government (federal and state) think that an unborn fetus matters more than a woman’s autonomy. Though some may not outwardly say that, when you do say that there are no abortions allowed, no exceptions, you are putting a fetus’s life before the consideration of the mother’s.

Why this is important is for a few reasons; in my experiences with friends and peers, I have realized that many men and women do not realize that the steps and terms of abortion is vast and versatile. For example, many states rule that you need counseling before the procedure and be shown (or offered to be shown) a picture during an ultrasound. There are some states that provide full or limited public funding.

And the time in which an abortion is allowed varies state by state. New York allows abortions up to 24 weeks and late term abortions are allowed if the mother or fetus’ life is in danger.

If you are interested about any state’s restrictions and statistics this is a great site.

Another example is many do not think about what happens if the fetus perishes within the womb? If abortions are illegal, the mother would then have to carry her deceased child to term (9 months) and be induced into labor. Removing the dead fetus is considered an abortion, which is an idea that many people avoid thinking about.

There are so many reasons for abortion, but like I said the only parties that should concerned with the procedure is the parent(s) and the doctor. I do not think that there should be absolutely no government involvement because of 1, funding and 2, procedure regulations; I think a lot of people who say “government get out of my uterus!!!!” forget that the public funding comes from the state or federal government. However, I do not think that the state of Ohio should be able to pass a bill proposing to ban all abortions, without exceptions.

Without exceptions means no rape victims, dead fetuses in the womb, poor women, women without access to sex education, no choice of bringing children with disabilities into the world, no exceptions for older women who face health risks, no exceptions for the broken condom. The list goes on and on.

This proposed bill came just 1 day after Mississippi passed a law that abortions can only be performed up to 15 weeks and no exceptions for after that time period.

Ohio wants to ban abortions with no exceptions which is unrealistic, dangerous and thoughtless. It is thoughtless for all the women that did not consent to sex but suddenly no choice. Thoughtless for the couples who are not financially prepared for a whole person to support. I am hoping for all these people and more that the state of Ohio does not further this bill into a law.

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