Life has been tough lately, and I have found myself allowing my life’s negative things to seep deeper and deeper into my personality than ever before. I know that life is bigger than my problems, and that I should never let circumstances define me. So when I started feeling like the negative things in my life were starting to dictate my behavior and emotions too much, I became slightly worried. Frustrating things like slow traffic, Tim Hortons messing up my order, or receiving a rude email have started to have more of an affect on me than they should. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever let normally small problems become big for no apparent reason? I actually yelled at the coffee lady (while my window was rolled up so she couldn’t hear me) because she thought I said “sugar” instead of “sweetener”. Yep, that’s rational Craig. I was even at a red light recently and when the light turned green, I only waited for 1.9 seconds to honk at the car in front of me, instead of my normal 2.9 seconds.
So since I have always prided (is prided a word? I feel like it should be “prode”…) myself on being someone who easily shrugs off small problems, I know my recent behavior is a sign that something is wrong… or at the very least that something needs to be adjusted. I mean… of course there are bigger problems in my life right now that are contributing to my stress, as is the case with basically everyone. But the difference is that the big stuff is often a result of things you can’t change (at least for me that’s how it is right now). So once I became absolutely sick of this version of myself, I decided it was time for some self reflection. So I decided to try and concentrate on the things I can change, by adjusting my reactions to life’s smaller challenges. I then happened to come across this quote, which really helped me put everything into perspective, by getting rid of my “why me?” attitude.
I am a christian, but you really don’t have to be religious to believe in this idea. Whether you believe in fate, karma, chaos theory, or God, this idea can help you make some sense of your troubles. Think about it. You’ve survived every single challenge you have faced up until this point. And I am willing to bet that you would consider yourself stronger after having faced those challenges. I truly believe that the hardest obstacles in life are meant for the toughest people. Now I know that life is a constant up and down struggle, and that you don’t keep getting stronger and stronger in an infinitely upward fashion. But in the grand scheme of things, you really are more capable today of dealing with tough stuff than you ever have been at any previous point in your life. Am I right?
Anyways, I should get to the whole point of this post – finding your reason to work out. So as you know, the last few months have been filled with me becoming more irritable and grumpy every day. Small things have been getting to me, and I’ve been taking out my frustrations on people who don’t deserve it. Not good. But I am no stranger to becoming moody, so I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do to immediately improve my demeanor is to get my ass to the gym. The funny thing is that my bad moods often directly correlate with my absence from the gym. Actually, this is not funny at all. This makes perfect sense. So when I work out, I feel better because of all that lovely dopamine and those endorphins and such. And as soon as I leave the gym, I always think about when my next workout will be. Duh, this is a clue that I should work out more! But the problem is that even though I know the gym will help me feel better… and it will help me get rid of all these bad moods… for some reason I still have trouble consistently going. Given the amazing things that working out does for me, why do I have this problem? I have no fricken clue. I really don’t. So instead of trying to solve this puzzle and figure out why I DON’T go to the gym, I decided instead to be more positive and think about the reasons why I DO go to the gym. Being positive always trumps being negative right?
So with that I guess I will write about my reasons to work out, starting with the most obvious.
1. To be stronger and more fit than anyone who tries to hurt me or anyone I care about. To me, this is the most important reason I work out. This applies to my job, but more importantly my personal life. I never want to be a victim, and you can be damn sure that if someone tries to hurt me or my family, they will regret it (you’ve just seen a rare glimpse of tough-guy Craig).
2. To improve my health now, but also to live as long as possible (for myself and my family). Now that I am engaged I have a new sense of responsibility that I haven’t experienced before. Life isn’t just about me now; it’s about both of us. And soon enough I’m sure life will be about little munchkins as well. I owe it to Amanda and our future family to stay alive as long as possible. Besides, I want to see how long it takes until we have flying cars… and I really don’t think we are getting those any time soon.
3. To have time to think and reflect, or just to spend some time alone. This one is important for everyone to maintain good mental health. There is a reason why those new “sensory deprivation” chambers are becoming popular. For me, spending time alone where I am working out or focusing on a task does two equally important things. First, it clears my head. I can concentrate fully on the task at hand, emptying my brain of all the useless junk that was bogging me down. Or second, it can also allow me to exclusively think about something, such as a dilemma or problem I am having, and concentrate on finding a solution to that problem. It really is funny how exercising can create clarity in your mind.
4. To be more likely to survive accidents with minimal injury. This one is kind of funny, and it relates to my first reason. But this one has more to do with falling off a mountain or being attacked by a shark. Okay, those are extreme examples… so to put this one into perspective I’ll tell you about something that happened to me recently. I was playing tennis and I lunged for a ball, and felt my ankle turn over slightly. When I was in high school, I injured both my ankles more than once, so I know exactly how and why it happens. But this time the muscles and ligaments in my ankle clenched up and prevented it from totally rolling over. It was a sore for a minute but I was fine after walking around for a bit. I have no doubt in my mind that years of strength training and other forms of exercise made my ankle strong enough to stop a serious injury. I saw a story recently about a guy who was shot in the chest, but he survived because of the amount of muscle he had to absorb the bullet, preventing it from reaching his heart. It just makes sense.
5. To just feel better about bad things. This is probably the most important one for me right now. Everyone deals with difficult times in their own way, and working out helps me do that. There is no feeling in the world that comes close to how I feel after an intense workout. It’s like my brain won’t allow me to be negative for at least an hour after I leave the gym. That is a powerful thing, especially in a world that has so much negativity. And when you are surrounded by those things all day long, you need something reliable to flush out your soul. And for me, the gym has always had the extraordinary ability to do that every single time.
The point I am trying to make is that everyone needs to find their own personal reason to exercise and be healthy. But sometimes we hit a mental road block, and we allow it to take hold of our motivation and bury it behind all of our problems. After a while the motivation is so hard to find that you forget you ever had any in the first place. I never want to let that happen to me again, and I am going to do that by constantly reminding myself about the reasons why I work out. So even if my motivation disappears, I can still find the strength to work out by remembering why I need to. Find your reason to exercise.
“Tough times are like exercise. You may not like it while you are going through it, but tomorrow you will be stronger because of it”.