Your Work Out – Your Reward

My good friend Carter and I were talking about what it takes to stay in shape these days. With hectic schedules for work and family and the usual minutia, sometimes getting the time in can be a challenge. I’m sure you’ve had this conversation. As each day goes by it seems to get more and more difficult as we progress in life (a better way of saying ‘age’ in my book) to stay dedicated to some type of exercise regimen.  

Like many, Carter referred to his 30 – 45 minute workout as something you ‘gotta do’ in order to maintain muscle tone and keep off unwanted pounds to fit into those favorite jeans you can’t find in the stores or even online anymore.  One day you look in the mirror or post a pic and you realize you gained a few. Not long after you reach for those favorite jeans and they feel a little tight.  The thought of getting back into working-out enters your mind but it’s attached to that stigma of being a ‘chore’ – something you really don’t want to do or have time for. We’ve all been there and soon start to consider what we should do and when we can find the time. Good intentions soon wither and we never get started.  Sound familiar?  

I believe a large part of the reason is we fail to consider the most important question first and foremost; Why. I’ve known Carter for a few years, and he does a great job of staying in shape, so I knew he would understand a different perspective.  “That’s not the reason why you work out” I told him.  “You work out because you like your body and exercising is a reward you give yourself”. 

A different angle in viewpoint but if we take a more defined approach, I believe you’ll see the positive aspects of dedicating some time to yourself and reconsider starting or ramping up your game plan for gains.

So why do we work out, or better yet, why should we?  I’m sure you’re thinking of the obvious; improve your health, feel better, look better, etc.  If that’s true, then why do so many people start, eventually lose interest, and fall off the fitness wagon?  Most gyms make their profit by charging monthly membership fees where 50% of the members don’t show up!  Again, good intentions but without a plan and the concept of rewarding oneself, they lose site of the big picture and go back to their typical routine of doing little to nothing. I’m convinced if people were to focus on the reward and get rid of the ‘have to / being forced to’ mentality, consistency would prevail as it does with other things you look forward to  – like that glass of wine at the end of day!  Same principle applies. 
I loved weightlifting when I was younger.  Up until your mid 30’s it’s easy to make gains, but as you put in the long hours you tend to slack off.  Add in marriage, kids, and even ‘fur kids’, there’s just not enough time in the day. Then there’s technology, that entity that keeps you in front of a computer (like I’m doing now) sitting all day while you type, read, talk, even nap for a minute or two.  The ‘sitting syndrome’ has become the second worse type of unhealthy lifestyle next to smoking.  The negative effects of sitting for much of your day is astonishing, and it’s not only at work.  Consider driving in the car, sitting to eat, engage in conversation, watch some boob tube, read, or take an online class, the list goes on and on.  Our Active Metabolic Rate (AMR), which represents activity such as walking, dancing, running, using the stairs, shopping (in the mall - not online!) takes a nosedive.  No wonder it becomes easier to add unwanted pounds.  This was my scenario in addition to my annoying back pain increasing.  I knew I had to do something.  Chiropractors and physical therapy were not enough. 

I decided to look deeper and started doing some research.  I soon learned about core strengthening and from began a conditioning program I designed for myself starting at 5 AM each morning.  I became obsessed with core exercises and strength building, and the results started to show.  My back pain began to diminish and my overall strength increased.  At my next checkup, my numbers were spot on, including my blood pressure.  The nurse simply told me, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it”, and that’s what I did. 

The reward of working out is multi-faceted.  You’re probably familiar with the common factors but it’s good review for knowledge and inspiration:

Weight Loss – not a big surprise here; losing weight is the main reason we consider starting some sort of exercise routine.  Shedding some pounds and carrying less weight feels better, especially as we age.    Exercise increases your heart rate and conditions your metabolism to burn calories more efficiently, so the next time you eat that cookie you’re likely to process it faster and not have all of it turn to fat. 

Mental Well Being – Moving more improves your mental stability as moderate physical activity releases endorphins, hormones that give you that natural ‘high’ and lessens depression.  Combine that with losing weight and ultimately your confidence level increases.  This will be a benefit as you interact with others and become more effective in decision making, leadership roles and achieving your goals with a positive self-esteem.    

Better Sleep – Putting your body under proper and controlled physical stress via exercise yields the ability to not only fall asleep faster but sleep more soundly.  As we get older, we may not sleep as well as we once did, and exercise can help us get a full night of rest so we can seize the day that much better.  Also, during this rest period, your body recovers from exercising and this is where your gains occur, while you’re sleeping!

Overall Health - Other benefits to exercising can include improving your heart health, increase your HDL (the good cholesterol), and decrease the bad triglycerides.  Additionally, your body’s ability to metabolize glucose improves with movement and reduces the chance for being at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.  Furthermore, when you work out you breathe in air and you exhale carbon dioxide.  This works the muscle that opens your lungs and keeps them strong while your body gets the oxygen it needs.  Your circulation increases and better blood flow means better performance in the bedroom.

If you're caught up in the low movement syndrome and want to start becoming more active, start off slow.  Find something you like.  It doesn’t have to be hardcore such as weight training.  A brisk walk, biking, hiking, swimming, use the stairs - not the elevator, gardening are activities you can start today!  Get others to join you.  Stretching and calisthenics each morning is a great way to start your day.  From here you can venture into various exercises and routines.  Bands are very popular as they provide simple and safe resistance training and is affordable as well.  Combine that with a low carb and high protein and healthy fat diet and you have yourself a customized program that you designed. Check n with your doctor and let him / her know of your intentions on your next visit. It really isn’t hard to develop as it is to get started.  Once you do you’ll be on your way to a better version of you…and need a belt for those favorite jeans! 
Weightlifting by Victor Freitas is licensed under

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