Today I feel great, not that ‘great’ brought about by any artificial means or substances but a slightly more organic variety. You see, I’ve been kind of down lately. I’ve been too hard on myself, I set my goals high naturally and I’m inconsolable when I fall short so, I push hard. But, there’s only so much one person can do. I mean I pride myself on having endless reserves; still no man is an island. I need a little encouragement every now and again just to keep at it as I’m guessing most people do.
So, it has been tough going hard non-stop and I just hit a wall and started to slide down. Well, something amazing happened. I realised the world didn’t end when I hit the bottom and, life goes on so I had to get up and dust myself up. Metaphorically speaking of course, This is obvious to most people, I know, but don’t you just push too hard at times? Thinking you can do it all, juggle everything and stay up all night working and still head to work in the morning? Is that really sustainable? Oh well, I guess no surprises when we run out of steam right?
I realised I needed a break. Not just physical but mental too. So I took a long weekend and I didn’t do jack! I have a stash of movies I’ve been too busy to watch so I dived right in. Called some friends out of the blues and scheduled a lot of catching up as I’d been missing in action. At a point I even got in my car, put on some music and went for a long drive with the music my only company. Wow, the joy of simple things.
After all these, I saw life differently. My workouts felt a lot better. I felt clear in my head about what I needed to do and learned a whole lot about the importance of taking a break, a well-earned break feels good. I mean it feels great. Not only that. I was able to look at all I’ve achieved. No matter how small I learned to pat myself on the back and say you know what; we did ok. Having said that, I can appreciate what I have now. Life, health, and freedom. These are some of the greatest gifts of all and I feel great indeed knowing this. How about you?
Life’s metaphor, like training; it’s easier to keep going than it is to start. Inertia is so powerful; remember every session before you start working out? How hard it is taking the first few steps to warm up. That’s just life in general isn’t it? The first set is always a lot harder than the third set, because of the inertia, your body being at rest and, not wanting to be disturbed.
The same can be said of life, life can be such a bastard. It’s unforgiving, unrelenting and damn right stubborn. Just like you go to work and work your arse off just to pay the bills every month but, is there a breather at the end of it? No! The next month’s is just waiting around the corner waiting to hit you hard.
The thing about exercise is you’ve got to keep topping it up. It is just like you put away a little bit leftover, after paying your bills every month. You top up your physical shape by doing something worthwhile every day. This represents saving something for rainy days, because you are not always going to be able to train for an hour or hour and a half solid everyday so, you train 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Take no for an answer even when you didn’t sleep a wink the night before and your body feels weak. Drag that arse through it!! Save some for rainy days because those days are coming.
And when those days come, you don’t take a chill pill. You double the effort because you’ve been saving up and have a lot more in the reserve. You get out in that rain and pound the pavement with a smile on your face, relentlessly. Why? Because life is relentless. Because life only respects you when you are prepared for hurricanes and tornadoes and you stand your ground. It leaves you be and, blows everyone else away, leaving you standing there triumphantly…a champion.
So, do you workout? I mean not just in January but regularly enough to have a routine? To some people, this might be a strange question but, I believe the answer to that question has a lot to do with what kind of person you are. Ever heard the saying you are what you eat? Well guess what, you are the result of your exercises or lack of it. Everything you do in life can be traced back to whether or not you exercise.
Have you looked in the mirror lately and do you like what you see? I mean 100%? Oh you do? Stop it! Even gym rats and top models still struggle with their images in the mirror. I mean there’s always room for improvement and I have a name for people who are 100% satisfied with their body, fitness level and, don’t see any room for improvement; super delusional. Now let’s get real, the day we stop improving is the day we start dying. There’s a statistic out there I won’t delve into here too much but it’s got to do with older retired people. It basically concludes that when people retire after working 30 to 40 years, having something to go to everyday and some sort of routine. Their health deteriorates drastically and most that don’t find other areas of interest soon die. Very sad but no surprises there, being active is inherent in human nature.
I am going to assume the people who answered no to the title of this post are those who find it difficult to exercise or workout. Either they work too many hours and are too tired to lift a finger afterwards or they can’t justify gym membership. I feel you and, believe me I’ve been there too and its part of the reason I started this blog. If you are really serious about working out, you don’t have to go it alone. This blog is sort of like my 2 cents so hope it helps. If you have worked out in the past but got stomped out by ‘life’ and had to give up and, are now willing to give it a second shot well, welcome back. If you are one of those defensive people, who cringe at the mention of ‘exercise or ‘workout’, guess what, you too aren’t alone.
The fact of the matter is; all of life’s challenges can be met head-on by having our ‘workout life’ in check. It’s like insurance against the unpredictability of life. Some people think they’ll have time to spend on other things if they don’t work out but, they still don’t have enough time for anything. Some think; ‘I’ll just skip today and double my effort tomorrow’ but, tomorrow comes and they don’t remember ‘it’ being this hard and they give up… that was 3 years ago. Ring any bells? Working out has to be a way of life, you aren’t going to get far until you take a look at yourself and give yourself a good talking to.
I don’t mean any AA recitals but a solid resolve to do something now! When you do this, it’s almost like now you have someone to answer to. You take it more serious and have a guilt trip every time you miss a session which let’s be honest we all do once in a while. No more excuses, working out never gets in the way of anything you want to do. You are making up all the reasons you can’t exercise and I’ll tell you why, it’s not what you do but how you do it. Do you only equate ‘working out’ to ‘going to the gym’? Wrong! Do you have a disability and quit as a result because you don’t see any way around it? Wrong! Did you stop working out because you couldn’t afford gym membership? Wrong! Think you are too old or…too young? Not if you can read this, lol.
As a personal trainer in the making I’ve heard all the excuses before. Once again it’s not what you do but how you do it that determines the desired result. We are wired to think in a certain way as humans, and when things don’t follow our pre-mapped path we lose interest. All this obstacles are not really obstacles when approached differently with a determined attitude. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I’ve got news for you, when it comes to working out there’s always a way.
So, let me ask you once again. Do you workout? If not at the moment but you wish you did then, I believe you’ve cleared the first hurdle.
Next step would be to start by taking what I call baby steps, depending on what you want to achieve from working out. If just want to run and get your lung capacity up, don’t start out aiming to run 6 miles because you are going to give up after 500 metres. Start small; write down what you want to achieve and create a timescale, break it down into monthly achievements and what you know you can do with regular progression. Print this out and paste it somewhere you can see every day, perhaps on your desktop or on the bathroom door on the inside. (No escaping it now!). The trick is not to start by working out every day but, working out at regular intervals that slowly gets you into the habit.
Watch your progress and don’t push yourself too hard. The beginning is always the hardest but, if you survive the first 3 weeks, the rest becomes a whole lot easier and that’s when you become addicted. I mentioned yesterday about how I got into working out by watching how some friends I had at University work out. Watching these guys in action cracking jokes, and just having fun in general slowly eased my fear about the ‘workout thing’. I thought to myself; surely can’t be that bad. It was all in the mind and if they could enjoy intensive exercises then, so could I. Well, how dumb I must have been.
The Workout Philosophy:
Why do we workout? I’ve arrived at my own conclusion about my reason for ‘working out’. Life is one big battle, life is one major stress. Man, life will knock you down and continue to pummel you into the ground unless you do something about it. Most of us don’t realise this. Most of us refuse to acknowledge that we are at war, mainly with simple things we often overlook and even call conveniences. We are all tossed into this battlefield called life without any manual and told to get on with it. We may as well be blindfolded because by the time we realise the situation we are in, it’s often too late.
To workout is to escape and transcend this war and take a breather from it. To take a step back and take stock and come back rejuvenated and fired up. It’s often the medicine needed to combat that virus known as stress. The toxins expelled from a workout session would otherwise take the body months to get rid of naturally. Toxins clog our bodies and combined with increased exposures to environmental toxins, alcohol and say some drug use and unhealthy diets in developed societies, which let’s face it we all are guilty of, it becomes lethal. We don’t stand much of a chance if we want to survive this onslaught. As I said earlier, the battlefield we are on known as life is pretty hectic. Bullets are flying, IED’s are going off all around us and most of the time we are sitting ducks.
I’ll try to use my rambling on this blog to get across to you that either you acknowledge that we are at war or you don’t doesn’t change the reality. Not acknowledging the fact will be similar to a soldier who arrives at war and decides to drop his combat gears. His decision doesn’t change the reality he is in and just might get him killed because; he just made the job a lot easier for the enemy.
Life is so stressful these days that if you live in one of the big cities, it can have you transfixed. Like a sheep that follows the herd, you most likely just follow the crowd and what everyone else does. Deep down though you yearn for more, don’t you? You wish you had the drive to do more or, something to propel you into a life less ordinary. Instead of the rat race and the monotony of; work, eat, sleep and, maybe some bars or clubs at weekends. Can there be more to life? You ask yourself and probably shrug and convince yourself that there probably isn’t. As you snap out of this momentary introspection and quickly run to catch up with the rest of the herd, the question still bugs you.
Essentially what I’m saying is this; I believe there is more to life. In fact I know. As we enter a new phase in human history, most of us feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. Most people with jobs fear for their jobs as gone are the days of job security. The people without jobs live in perpetual state of anxiety and uncertainty. What with the bank crisis and the economy nose diving in most of the western hemisphere. The fear of the unknown can make a baby out of you, your mental capacity becomes subdued and you lose your composure. Yea, you can tell I’ve been there and I dare say a few people can relate. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, what about the mortgage? What about the kids’ education, shelter, food? Add all this to the mix and ‘stress’ just doesn’t describe it.
As a believer of the saying ‘nothing is new under the sun’ I just say when the going gets tough you have to keep going. The starting point must be to understand that previous generations experienced worse. We are at both the best and the worst times in our history but our advantage is the luxury of looking back. On a more personal level, I also believe in the ingenuity of man, humans are amazing creatures. We are set apart by our creativity and ability to solve problems, if we are able to step a step back that is and focus on the big picture.
This is where working out comes in.
To get those creative juices flowing we need to distract the mind and get our heart pumping. To workout is to unplug our mind from society’s programmed mainframe and face reality for what it is. Shake off the fears and worries that plague your mind. As one famous musician once said; ‘nothing really matters’, I’m not saying I totally agree with that saying but it does help you gain perspective. Perhaps a new perspective is all you need. I often get this after a good workout session, I see things differently. I start figuring out new approaches to problems. This I believe is brought about by just letting go momentarily and, distracting myself with a quick workout session. It’s like magic. If you’ve never experienced this I probably sound foreign to you and I don’t blame you. I got into working out when I met a few guys in my first year at University who all seemed to have perfectly sculpted bodies.
I never really thought I had any problems in the fitness department but, these guys made me realise I could be more. Not only that, they inspired me because going to the gym for them was like going for the next class. At that time, the thought of running a mile would have brought me out in cold sweat so imagine my surprise seeing these guys ‘normal routine’. These aren’t athletes but can be if they wanted to, they certainly looked the part. The difference here is that they ‘workout’ because, they enjoy it. I couldn’t believe anyone would be so crazy! I was fascinated and before long was compelled to join their sessions, if only as a spectator.
I’ll delve further in my next post… Until then, thanks for reading.