How an Inspirational Quote Changed How I Look at Exercise
Let me start off by saying I'm not typically someone who goes searching for inspirational quotes to help motivate me. As I'm sure you do, I see quite a few of them on my social media feeds from people who have shared them. Maybe you're one of those people. That's totally cool. If they work for you, great. Normally I glance over them and keep scrolling. But one caught my eye recently that really stuck with me.
I started working out on a regular basis about three years ago for a couple of reasons. 1) I'm not getting any younger, and 2) I needed to. Years of eating whatever I wanted and doing very little, if any, physical activity left me not really liking the way I looked in the mirror. So, I got off my lazy butt and joined a local gym. I met with a personal trainer who set me up with three different workouts to cycle through each week. I'm still doing those same workouts today.
Over that time, I've managed to not only drop 15 pounds or so pounds but keep it off. I went down a waist size in pants and dropped from wearing extra-large shirts to large ones. I've also managed to build a little muscle as well. Most importantly, I actually don't mind how I look.
There's Always a, "But..."
With that said, I've been slacking a little bit over the past several months. When I started, I was pretty diligent about getting to the gym three times a week. On the days I didn't, I would still do some push-ups and crunches either in the morning or before I went to bed. I also did a better job of cutting down on snacking and eating a bit healthier. These days, I'm getting to the gym once, maybe twice a week. Not because I don't want to, but because I may end up working a 10,11, or 12 hour day, and when you get to work at 4:15 in the morning, stopping by the gym on the way home and working out for an hour or so would get me home around 6:00 or 6:30. The point is, it makes for a very long day. I've also fallen back into some old eating habits, thanks to candy and ice cream still being things.
Fall Festival week didn't help either, although I did go into knowing I was going to indulge myself (I mean, it's all about helping the local non-profits and groups, right?). Over the course of the week, I ate mozzarella cheese sticks, a pronto pup, a brain sandwich, gumbo, a sausage burger, two orders of fried S'mores, drank two jugs of cherry-apple cider, and a few other deep-fried things that aren't coming to mind right this minute. How many times did I make it to the gym that week? Only once.
On those days when I don't make it to the gym, I tend to beat myself up a bit. Especially on the days I haven't eaten particularly well, like Fall Festival week. I imagine you do the same. You get that feeling that because you treated yourself a bit or a lot, that it completely erases every fitness accomplishment you've made up to that point. But, that's not the case.
The Quote That Changed My View
I don't remember if I saw this quote on Instagram or Facebook, but wherever it was, it stuck with me. It's from Kevin Ng, a yoga and mindfulness instructor based in Seattle who is the corporate mindfulness and yoga instructor for eBay, and a wellness consultant for Microsoft.
Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
I never thought of exercise as punishment necessarily, I do enjoy going to the gym, but as I said earlier when I don't go and I don't eat particularly well, I feel like I'm wasting the improvements I've made. When really, I should focus on how far I've come. Even on those days.
When I started working out back in the summer of 2018, I could barely do 10 solid push-ups. Now I can knock out about 30 before my arms start to shake. I would do three sets of squats using only my body weight. Now, I hold a 30-pound kettle bell weight. Holding a plank for 30 seconds used to cause my body to convulse like I was having a seizure. Now, I'm able to hold one for about three minutes. In case you don't believe me on that last one, there is video proof.
The point is, this version of me four years ago couldn't do any of those. Especially with that extra weight hanging over my waist.
As I said to start this article, I'm typically not one for inspirational quotes, and I'm also not one for giving inspirational speeches. The main reason I wanted to share it with you is that I'm confident in saying I'm not the only one who beats myself up when I slip up, indulge, or whatever you want to call it. We all do it. Seeing this quote made me look at things a little differently, and even allow myself to take some pride in what I've been able to accomplish over the last few years. My hope is that it does the same for you.
[Source: Kevin Ng]
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