If someone were to ask me today why I exercise — why I lift weights, practice yoga, walk, all that fun stuff — I’d answer: Life.
I know that’s not exactly original, but it’s oh-so-true. I’ve finally figured out that moving makes me feel better, more capable, more energetic, and happier. Sure, I’ve understood this intellectually for quite a long time. But only in the last few years has it truly sunk in. Now I know it, not just in my head but in my guts and my limbs (muscles, bones, joints and all).
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with training for some other reason or reasons: a race, a sport, or even the desire to change one’s body comp and physique. I’ve trained to get myself ready for an event, and a similar pursuit could happen again at some point in my future. What’s more, I’d be lying if I claimed it wouldn’t please me to see a bit more muscle definition here, a little less muscle camouflage there.
The difference now is that I see all of those potential benefits as the cherry on top. The sundae is how I feel every day, inside and out. Knowing this, I more often choose to make time for play. Come to think of it, that last sentence nicely sums up how I’m starting to think about exercise:
- it’s a choice, not an obligatory task I must suffer through to achieve X or Y result;
- I deserve time to play, and it’s up to me to ensure that I take it, rather than waiting for it to magically appear in my schedule; and
- as children know and adults too easily forget, it can bring real joy and fulfillment.
It’s no wonder that I’m now less attached to the outcomes than to the experience of moving and trying new things.
In fact, the real result lies in the habit itself. In the process, not the outcome. That’s why it’s key to find activities that are fun for us, as I hinted at earlier. It’s not meant to be a grind, so why would we ever cultivate a habit of something we dread doing?
There are so many options that something is bound to resonate. I’ve also learned that it pays to try things again, things I didn’t think I was suited for (or vice versa). I’ve changed a lot over the course of my life, so it stands to reason that my taste in activities would evolve, too. My food preferences and choices certainly have expanded and shifted quite significantly over the years.
Not only does this new perspective make me feel pretty great, I’m also starting to see the potential applications in other pursuits. If I can fall in love with the process of meditation, novel writing, and other things that matter to me — and begin to detach from the desired outcomes — well, that would seriously rock. Again, these aren’t entirely foreign concepts to me, but sometimes a new light hits an old idea and suddenly, voilà, it’s time to shine.