“I can’t. I have to…” Exercise, train, run, bike, workout. Any variation of the above. The people who know me know not to question this. Tha’s not to say that they know why. They just know better than to suggest I skip a workout. There have been many an occasion where I turn down coffee, dinner, or even another kind of exercise to exercise. We’ll cut right to the chase. What do I mean when I say, “I have to workout”?
Well, quite literally I mean I have to go workout. I’ve scheduled in it and I’m not about to break a date. But that’s not why we’re gathered around the campfire today. What I’m really saying isn’t so complicated as some other things. All I’m saying is, “I cannot skip a workout”. Let’s examine why I can’t skip a workout.
It’s not because I have some psychotic trainer. I’m not obsessing over weight loss either. I’m not even that obsessed with exercise. I do love it a lot though.
There are three reasons why I workout and why I will cancel a coffee date if it interferes with my workout session.
It keeps depression in check
For years and years and years, I suffered from severe depression. No surprise there. I’ve mentioned it before. All throughout my depression I exercised. I lifted some weights, I did yoga, I did Aikido, and all sorts of other stuff. All of that kept me from getting worse, but it didn’t alleviate my symptoms any. Until I started running. Once I started running, I didn’t ever want to stop.
Whether it was the chemicals in my brain, or getting out and doing something, or feeling like I could move myself forward through obstacles, running slowly but surely pulled me out of my depression. Nothing else in my life changed. Just the running.
That being said, I have noticed a direct relationship between my running and my mood, as most runners do. While a bad run will get me down, it still lifts my spirits. Skipping a run is a lot like letting myself sleep in. It cements a bad habit. It allows the edges of my depression to creep in. It’s my medication and I refuse to skip it.
When we phrase it like that, it makes a lot of sense, right? If I said I couldn’t have coffee because I have a doctor’s appointment or a therapy session, everyone would understand. But saying I have to run, or do Aikido is unreasonable. Why? Because it’s hard to understand what’s behind the importance I place on my exercise routine. If you’ve never experienced the phenomenal release exercise grants from depression, it’s hard to get it.
But that’s why there are articles like this one. To clarify.
It protects my body
I’m pretty unwilling to jeopardize my physical health. If I told you to give me your arm because I was going to break it, would you? Pretty sure that’s a no. In a similar sense, lifting weights, running, biking, yoga, and my martial arts all support one another. It took an injury for me to find the perfect balance between all of them but I’m at a point now where I have found an equilibrium.
My physical body is happy! But it’s only happy if I continue to support it through all my exercises.
It keeps me hungry
This one is a little bit of a no-brainer but it requires some explanation as well. Coming from a history of body dysmorphia and eating disorders, eating isn’t always the easiest thing for me. There are still days where I just don’t get hungry and eating is really hard. This is where exercise helps me out.
One, it makes me really hungry. Which tells me that my body really needs food because it has to perform repairs on itself and continue maintaining everything. As well, it makes me proud of how hard my body has worked. Pushing my body, seeing it work and feeling it work also helps me love myself. There’s no denying that I did that work. My body did that.
Everything is balanced out
The most amazing thing that has occurred since I’ve found my equilibrium of workouts is that my entire existence feels like it clicks. Not only is my mood stable, so are my periods, my sleep schedule, my energy levels, my hunger, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s amazing!
I’m not going to throw away that balance for a night out eating food that won’t agree with me. Normal sleep habits are too precious. Continuous energy is far too precious. And hey…easier, normal periods? BIG plus.
I love it
This is the bottom-line for me.
I love exercising. It’s a passion of mine. I love sweating. I love the feeling of burning muscles. I love the endorphins that come from pushing myself to my limits. I love breaking through those limits.
After spending years not being kind to myself, I’ve realized one very important fact. I owe it to myself. I owe it to myself to exercise and engage in self-care like this. Sometimes self-care looks like a bath. Sometimes it looks like a spa day. Other times it looks like a hard 7 mile run instead of going out for coffee. It looks like a sit in the hot tub after a hard weight-lifting session. And I owe it to myself to take care of myself.
It’s important to remember this. When someone says they have to workout instead of going out, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It isn’t about giving you the cold shoulder. It’s about self-maintenance. Personal progression. It’s about taking the time out of the day to push ourselves and care for ourselves. It’s an intimate moment of personal solitude.
And if you’re turning down plans, remember that not everyone gets it. No everyone is addicted to exercising. In fact, most people don’t even like it.
But for the weird ones, we have to exercise. No if, ands, or butts about it!