Why Exercise is Important to Me

I get a lot of questions just in general about how I am able to make myself workout every day and how I stay motivated to make myself go to the gym.  Most every question is stated in that way where people are wondering how I “make myself” do it.  So I thought it would be beneficial to just write a post about my connection with exercise and how I’m able to stay on the schedule that I have week in and week out.  Spoiler alert: it’s not something I have to “make myself” do.  It is something that I love but even beyond that, it’s something that I need far beyond the obvious reasons of being in good physical shape.

I’ll be completely transparent that I often struggle with anxiety.  I wasn’t diagnosed with it until after college…and boy I wish I had realized what I was going through in high school and college when I would have panic attacks and not understand why.  I know when I’m having them because my throat basically starts closing up and I can’t breathe very well.  As you may already know, I played soccer my whole life and in college too.  I would get so worked up about the fitness testing at the beginning of the season that I would have full on panic attacks.  Ever tried to run 120 yard sprints with your throat closed up?  Yeah it’s not fun…it’s actually pretty impossible, ha.  So not knowing what I was going through and why I wasn’t able to breathe during these tests when I had worked for months on end to get in shape for it, it didn’t make sense why all of a sudden I couldn’t do it come test day.  I saw a doctor about it and was diagnosed with “exercise induced asthma”…which by the way I did NOT have, but of course at the time I didn’t know that it was anxiety presenting itself in that way.  So I was taking puffs of an inhaled steroid that I did not need before every soccer game.  Ridiculous lol.  I didn’t even get anxiety before games, just the fitness tests that I felt such immense pressure to pass, which is what caused the anxiety.  I just wish I had known then what I know now about myself and been able to help it with a different strategy.  So I tell you all that just for some background on the anxiety situation.

Fast forward a few years and I started taking medication for the anxiety on an “as-needed” basis, which for me was maybe a couple nights a week just before I went to bed.  It would help me turn my brain off and get some sleep, because when I’m super anxious I can’t stop thinking about things and I lose sleep over it.  I have recently all but stopped taking it because I wanted to try to deal with my anxiety in a different way.  I understand that some people have clinical anxiety and depression that may really require medication to help with the chemical imbalances that they have, and I get that.  I just felt like mine was more things I could pinpoint rather than an inexplicable anxiety.  So I wanted to try to start identifying things I could do to deal with the anxiety instead of the medication.

One thing that I have noticed DRASTICALLY reduces the amount of anxiety I have is for me to workout.  I instantly feel a reduction in anxiety and stress after I’ve done my workout for the day.  Which has started to be why I like to do it earlier in the day now whenever possible, because that way I’m able to focus more clearly on things the rest of the day.  Also, feeling strong physically from my workouts helps me feel more mentally, emotionally, and spiritually confident in myself.  So it really helps me channel all of that nervous energy and tension into something positive and productive, and I’m more mentally clear to focus and achieve my other goals throughout the day.

I don’t have to “make myself” go workout because I know how much I both need it (physically and mentally!) and want to do it!  I think anyone that has the mindset that they have to make themselves workout is already fighting an uphill battle.  I think it’s important to find reasons besides purely the physical aspects of exercise that make you want to do it and not make you feel like it’s a chore.

So exercise helps me a great deal to overcome my anxiety and feel more confident in any situation but another thing that has helped me with that is my daily devotional and just spending more time with the Bible and with God.  Knowing that He is with me and that all I need to do is give my worries, fears, and doubts to Him is a great comfort.  And then, just to come full circle, I feel like having that faith in God and wanting to take care of my temple that He has given me is another reason I like to workout! I was listening to the radio this morning (lately I have been really enjoying listening to a Christian station in the morning, it just helps me start my day off in an uplifting way!) and they were talking about this connection between faith and fitness.  About how a lot of people make excuses for not working out, because they think it’s too late to start, that they are too old, or that they don’t have enough time.  And that all three of those things are lies keeping you from being the best version of you and taking care of yourself.  Jesus died for you so that you could live an abundant and full life, not so that you would beat yourself up about feeling too old, or that it’s too late, or that you don’t have enough time.  Matthew 5:14-16 says:

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This is saying that there is only one of you and you are charged with living your best life and giving glory to God in the process.  So many people can come up with excuses of why they don’t want to let their light shine, but to me I know that at least when I exercise and take care of myself, that I am putting myself in the best possible position to be a better person, a happier person, a more positive person that can help others and put those good vibes out into the world.

Lastly, whenever I get emails, comments, or direct messages from readers/IG followers about how I have helped them find motivation in some way, that is another huge reason why I keep at it!  In hopes that even if I just motivate one other person to implement some healthy habits into their life, that I have made a difference.  It happened just this morning, I got a DM from a sweet IG follower (who is a stay at home mom of 2 small babies) that I have helped motivate her to start working out during her youngest child’s nap time while her toddler has play time.  Because she was giving everything to her family and not taking time to take care of herself, so she was starting to not feel very good about herself.  And when that happens to anyone, we can’t be the type of person, mother, wife, friend, whatever it may be that we WANT and need to be.  She expressed that just making that change has already made her feel so much better about herself.  That message seriously warmed my heart so much and truly made my day.

So that is how I stay motivated to workout, and why I don’t have to make myself.  I want to workout because it makes me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually a stronger and better person.  It’s about so much more than just getting abs (But hey, abs are nice too!)  😉  I have come to learn that I’m better when I exercise, for all of those reasons, and that is why exercise is important to me, and how I make it a lifestyle.  It is as crucial to my existence as is breathing!

Why is exercise important to you?  What things motivate you to workout?

xo,

Bess

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Danielle
    February 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I LOVE to workout! I’m with you on the fact of I don’t have to “make myself” workout. It’s something I want to do so that I can feel healthy and beautiful in my own skin. Working out is a time for myself. I recently joined a workout center that’s all about community and encouraging each other to show up and put our best foot forward. I love that about exercise, that it can truly bring people together. Thanks for the share and continued motivation!!

  • Reply
    Megan B.
    February 11, 2018 at 3:01 am

    I LOVE this post, so much! Especially relating it to God’s word, which is so true. Every time I’m in a slump, I have to realize that my body is fully capable of moving/exercising, and I need to be thankful for that and take full advantage. We never know when it might be taken away from us.

    And, so glad you have found something to combat the anxiety too. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing! (When I read the part about fitness testing, it took me back to my collegiate sport days too! Ugh, hated those. *field hockey over here…which by the way, Wake had an awesome team back in my day*)

    • Reply
      Bess
      February 13, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Hey girlfriend!! I’m so glad this post resonated with you!! You are spot on when you say you have to take a moment and be thankful for your healthy body. I fully agree and love that. Yeah Wake’s hockey team was really good! Some national championships, a couple when I was there I think!! I think they are still pretty good, although I admit I don’t really follow it 🙂

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