Junior year of high school I bought my first gym membership. Actually, the membership was charged to my parents credit card, and I went to work out. I remember looking at a picture of Marc Fitt and wanting to look like him. I wasn’t interested in the Mr. Olympia physique. I wanted the slim washboard ab physique.
Before my first gym membership I would watch George Lopez on the television with my mother. During commercials I did as many sit ups before the show started back up. Eventually I bought one of those pull up bars that fit in the door frame. I was a young naive boy, going through puberty, trying to find a way to impress the girls in my class.
My exercise habit started because I wanted to impress girls. Over the next couple years I experienced more benefits of having a regular exercise routine.
The benefits of a regular exercise routine include a decrease in resting heart rate, and a better ability to function. Also, the mental side which includes consistency, confidence, and resilience. Working out is a self-inflicted suffering that trains you to better handle the sufferings of life.
Working out has many physical health benefits. When I don’t work out my diet tends to lack. I eat more unhealthy food and can feel the difference. Physical health benefits of working out regularly include a decrease in resting heart rate and improved capability to function in life.
You only have a limited amount of heart beats in one life. A person who doesn’t workout and eats unhealthy has a faster resting heart beat than the person who does workout. When I checked my heart rate at a Walgreens drug store kiosk my results showed around 40 BPM. The average heart rate of an individual is between 60 to 70 beats per minute. I have been working out on a regular routine for over 5 years. When you work out your heart rate increases because of the physical activity, stays increased for a little while after, then drops back to normal.
A lower resting heart rate may be a sign of good health. An article written December 2008 by Harvard Health Publishing stated “A tantalizing possibility is that lowering your heart rate could help protect you from heart disease and may even let your heart beat for longer.” Heart problems run in my family, I workout to help reduce my risk of having a heart problem.
Do you want to be a 60 year old that needs help putting on pants? Personally, I want to be able to do all the things I can do now when I get older. I may be slower when completing tasks, but I will be able to do it without help.
I want to be able to catch myself if I fall, lift objects above my head to put on a shelf, screw in a light bulb, walk to the grocery store, and carry back groceries. Proper exercise with functional movements can help achieve these goals. Recently, I have moved more towards functional movements and away from seeing how much weight I can lift. I don’t really see a situation when i’m in my sixties and having to squat over three-hundred pounds, or lift five-hundred pounds off the ground.
Working out does not only train the body but the mind as well. My reason for going to the gym changed from looking good to impress the ladies to (as David Goggins puts it) “callusing the mind”. Working out trains the mind on consistency, confidence, and resilience.
Results don’t happen over night. I have been at this work out thing since I was 18, i’m 23 now. It took 5 years to get in the physical shape i’m in now. The beginner experiences the most growth. The body is not use to the stress. After about a year the body gets use to the movements and stress. It is important to increase resistance (add more weight, increase set/reps/time). The growth curve looks like a ramp, at the beginning the most growth and as you move further down the Time axis (x-axis) it tapers off. I drew a picture because I couldn’t find one that looked like it on google.
Working out teaches me consistency. Getting dressed on average 5 days a week, walking to the gym, warming up, working out, cooling down, walking home. It’s become a routine that I don’t have to put much thought into going. My body just goes. It wasn’t always that way. When I was first creating a work out routine I was very inconsistent. It wasn’t until I started seeing results that it went from being a chore to being a privilege.
I learned that any new habit takes a lot of effort in the beginning. After a while of keeping at the new habit it gets easier. Working out taught me consistency and habit building.
Working out is more than looking good. Looking good is a result of working out. When I look good I feel more confident when I talk, and how I present myself. Also, working on symmetry, and posture increases confidence. Looking down at a screen all day rounds your shoulders closing the chest. During my warm ups I do yoga to stretch and improve my posture. You can get a good read on a persons personality based on their posture. A person with an upright open posture gave one group of students more confidence in their own thoughts.
Try this now: Round your shoulders for a few seconds, then sit up straight and open your chest. The world is brighter when open.
Working out led me to meditation. These two habits have increased my resilience in getting through stressful times. I go to the gym when something is bothering me. Working out releases endorphins — the feel good chemicals. Endorphins help with handling pain. It is a high obtained not from external sources. Working out was the beginning of my self improvement journey, meditation coming second.
When you can stack healthy habits, math changes from [1+1=2] to [1+1=3] (synergy). Meditation is known to release the same endorphins as working out, as-well-as decrease stress hormone levels. I get comments all the time of people thinking i’m older than I really am because of how calm I am. Working out and meditation are my tools for increasing resilience.
The Buddha says Life is suffering. Meaning that Life is not permanent, something is always dying and being born. Therefore, Life is suffering because of change. Everyday we wake up closer to death. We are dying. To better be able to handle the sufferings we face in life, working out can be a tool. Working out is self-inflicted voluntary suffering. I am voluntarily putting myself through pain so I can be more confident and resilient to handling the pains and changes of life.
What started as a tool to look good has affected my life 10x. Working out has taught me about nutrition, meditation, psychology, and more. It has taught me the value of consistency, and thinking long term. It has increased my overall confidence, as well as, my resilience to stress and pain. Lastly working out has taught me the value of pain.
Keep Moving Forward,
Check out the previous article: How to Read 1 Book A Week