How many times have you had the good intentions of wanting to workout, but then did not? You had planned on exercising after work, but then you had a long day full of meetings, and when the time came, you were just too exhausted to go. Or, your meetings ran long, and you had to get home to the kids instead of having the time to exercise, and later that night you just didn’t feel like it.
Sometimes life gets in the way of our good intentions, and that’s the way it goes. But, more often it is ‘us’, who gets in the way. We are often our own worst enemies, talking ourselves into feeling a certain way. We convince ourselves that taking the easy road is our best choice, and that it would just be too hard to do otherwise.
I’m here to tell you that it is often the hard choice that is the most rewarding way to go. As a former triathlete, I had to do multiple swim, bike and run workouts a week. Many days I would be tired from the previous day’s work to want to do that particular session. But I found that frequently, if I forced myself to just start the exercise, I would actually feel better and have a great workout!
Physiologically, there are a lot of benefits to exercise that are well understood. It is well known to help improve your mood and give you a sense of well being, in addition to helping your cardiovascular system and your musculoskeletal system.
It is relatively easy for us to understand how working out will help our heart, lungs, etc., but it is more difficult to intellectually understand how it will actually help us feel happier. Suffice it to say that the endorphins that get released during exercise does a lot for our mood, and sometimes, even if you don’t workout long enough to produce a significant amount of endorphins, you get a mood enhancing effect just from the fact that you are helping yourself to improve and taking the hard path. A placebo effect? Perhaps. There is plenty of empirical data that shows this effect to happen and be substantial. The mind is powerful, and can do wonderful things for us if given the chance.
So the next time you are in a quandary whether or not to do a workout, err on the side of just forcing yourself to start it. Just tell yourself to begin the workout and see how it goes. If I am correct, you will feel better and continue the workout. If it is really not your day, than you have lost nothing and can actually feel better knowing you gave it a try. I am willing to bet that not only will you start to feel better once you begin the exercise, but that you will be happier when finished knowing that you were able to do it despite initially not wanting to. You might, in fact, just have the experience that the workout you almost didn’t do, was one of the best ones you had done in a long time. As the old Nike commercial commands, “Just Do It!”