I’m sure you’ve heard that to be healthy a person should eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and exercise, right? Sounds pretty simple, but when you get right down to it, it can be very hard to do. I know from personal experience that “health” can be a challenge to learn and maintain. It’s very easy to let your health slip by, but I’ve heard it said that if you ignore your health, it will go away. I’ve never wanted my health to be that way, and I’m sure you don’t either so that is why we are having this conversation today.
Health has been an important topic in my life.
I grew up in a home where my mom was sick a lot and the doctors didn’t really have a solution for her. Eventually we had to look for a natural route to health. Because of that, I’ve always had an interest in health, especially in terms of what you eat. I’ve also always lived a generally active lifestyle. Sports, like figure skating, gymnastics, soccer, etc., have always been part of my life. However, I only really got a vision for my physical fitness after getting married.
I don’t know how your husbands are, but mine is pretty much Mr. Super Fit. He’s nice and strong, great muscle definition, low body fat, really athletic, but you know what else? He doesn’t even try! When he joins me for a 5 mile jog I’m almost dying at the end while he’s still running circles around me! On a dime he can drop and do 50+ push-ups in a row. And, while he naturally doesn’t like candy and junk food (and has zero temptation!), he can eat whatever he wants to and it doesn’t effect him. Seriously?! I don’t get it. It’s amazing, and sometimes annoying. But anyway…
His fitness didn’t come from nowhere. 5 years ago, before we met, he went to a seriously intense para-military academy that changed his life. Nine weeks of extremely difficult, physically demanding, push-you-beyond-every-limit type boot camp, changed his total physique. He learned how to be hard core. When we got married he taught me.
I always wanted to be fit, healthy, and strong, but didn’t have a clear vision or plan on how to get there. Cliff showed me that in order to get the results I wanted, I needed to push myself farther than I ever had before. I became very determined and very disciplined. My plan of action started out small, but I began by jogging a bit (very slowly) and doing some workout videos. To start, I trained a couple times a week. Since then I’ve learned a lot about exercising and I’ve grown stronger, leaner, and become more intense. The most significant thing though, is the change in my vision.
After a year and a half of working out I’m just beginning to realize how beneficial exercise is.
In the beginning my vision was primarily to be able to see my abs, you know, burn off that fat. I also wanted to be healthy enough to really play with my children and grandchildren some day. Those things are still very important and motivating for me, but I’ve discovered many more benefits to exercising that keep my vision for exercising strong. I’m going to share with you what I’ve personally experienced through exercise, how it’s changed my life, and what it could do for you too.
This one is obvious, but exercising doesn’t just make you stronger during your workouts, it makes you stronger in your day-to-day life as well. I have a lot of strength and stamina to work all day long. Yes, I get tired, but in general I am able to work with “gusto”. When you push your body past it’s normal limit during exercise, the limit stretches and your body gets stronger. Now you can handle more. That means that even when you’re not exercising, the strength you’ve built up will give you more oomph in all your daily activities.
My husband likes to say that “everything is mental”. In a way, it’s true. When you exercise hard, training your mind to push your body and you train your body to obey your mind, you also build your mental strength. Jillian Michaels once said, “When you see how strong you are physically, it’s going to transcend into every facet of your life.” and I’ve found this to be true. Not to mention when you finish a hard workout you feel so victorious, and so good about yourself that it empowers you to accomplish other things too!
Science now proves that when you exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins give you a feeling of pleasure and reduce your perception of pain. They also give you a positive and often relaxed feeling like morphine, but without being addictive. Exercise boosts emotional well being and self-esteem so well that it’s a proven treatment for depression! It’s like a literal happy pill! As a woman, I still have my raging emotions sometimes, but I know that exercising really helps me to be chill. Especially something like walking or jogging. Some may call it boring, but when I jog, I usually don’t listen to music or anything. For me it’s just the rhythm of my breathing and the padding of my feet on the road. Sometimes I’ll pray, but often I’ll just breath. It’s super relaxing.
There is so much I could say on this one! When you exercise you unlock a host of health benefits! There are two basic types of exercise: endurance and resistance. Endurance would be long duration cardio type stuff while resistance is more like calisthenics and weightlifting. Both are very beneficial and actually enhance each other when used together. Endurance training often works our heart and lungs (cardiovascular system) making it stronger and more efficient. It also stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis (formation) among other things. Mitochondria are the little organelles in the cells of your body that power the cell, thus powering your body. That means exercise will literally give you more energy (more little power plants in the cells)! Another plus: all that movement stimulates digestion and keeps you regular.
Endurance isn’t the only way to produce mitochondria though, resistance training also will cause your mitochondria to multiply, because muscle needs lots of energy when contracted. If you do it properly, exercising your muscles improves bone density, lowers blood sugar, increases insulin sensitivity, and strengthens joints. Resistance training even reduces aging on a genetic level.
Long Term Health
This one, for me, is one of the most important benefits of consistent exercise. I don’t want to be the mom who can’t play with her children because she’s too tired or too weak. Neither do I want to be the grandma who’s got aches and pains and can hardly move around her own house, let alone do the things she enjoys. A couple months ago I heard about an 82 year old woman who is the oldest competing female body builder. What?! She has less body fat than me, and I’m only 20! (Her name’s Earnestine Shepherd if you want to check her out!) It blows me away how youthful and fit she is. She eats a healthy diet and stays active, exercising every day. That keeps you strong! It gives you energy and life! Exercise literally keeps your cells young!
In the garden of Eden, God made us for hard labour. Adam and Eve did not sit at a desk all day and come home to sit on the couch all evening. No, they tilled fields with a hoe, washed clothes on a stone in the river, and built their homes with sweat equity and a whole lot of elbow grease. However, because we have things a little easier these days, we have to consciously work out our bodies in order to keep them healthy and strong like God made them to be! So go exercise. Surprise yourself with how strong your body becomes and how good you feel when you just get out and work it!
Now that you can see all those amazing reasons to exercise, I have to be honest with you.
I don’t just want to be healthy, I want to look super lean and sexy!
Yup. It’s the truth. Maybe it’s vain, but it’s a huge motivator for me. It’s the biggest reason I started working out in the first place! I mean really, who doesn’t want to be able to see their abs, right? How about a bum dent? And nice lean thighs? On top of all those amazing health benefits, why not enjoy a fit looking body too? For all the hard work you put into your fitness, and the health benefits you get from that exercise, it’s such a reward to be looking as healthy and strong as you feel!
I know for myself, it is exciting to see my body change. Last spring/summer I saw my abs for the first time! That was after a year and a half of consistent exercise. Sure, you only saw a faint dent up above my bellybutton, but it was more abs than I had ever remembered seeing before! By now I can see two abs up there and I am just waiting until that little pooch under my bellybutton burns off!
I do not lessen any of the amazing benefits to exercise by focusing on looks though. A trim physique is simply a result of discipline and good health. I love feeling strong and capable. Conquering a hard workout first thing helps me start my day from a place of accomplishment. That, and spending quiet time with my God is what gets me through the day with a sense of purpose and rest.
So where will you go from here?
I think you can see now that exercise is pretty great. Do you exercise? If so, keep going and always give it your best effort. Have you never exercised and never had a reason to? I have no problem with that. I hope you’ve at least found this article interesting and will maybe consider what exercise can do for you, and for your health. Whatever the case, choose today to love yourself and do something good for yourself! Go eat some veggies, take a deep breath, and thank the God in heaven for the day you’ve been given!
Disclaimer: I am not a trained health professional and this article should not be taken as a legitimate medical document. I am simply a person who loves health and research, and these are things I’ve looked into and personally experienced.
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