Many of you may think I'm crazy for spending so much time sweating and toiling on the treadmill or in the weight room. It is addictive, I admit. But I didn't start out doing this much at once. I built it up over time. Maybe if you could understand, you'd give it a tri too!
Before I was active, I felt sluggish and unproductive. Everything was tedious. I had no energy. I was depressed. I had lower back pain from sitting hunched over reading papers and doing microscope work all day. I also suffered from low self esteem and had issues with body image.
Now, all that has changed. I have never felt so alive. Even though today, I'm a little tired and very sore, I've never felt better. I love that sore feeling you get the next day after a hard workout.
1) It boosts your immune system. I haven't been sick for 5 years!
2) It boosts your self esteem. I feel good about myself. I'm accomplishing my goals. I know I can do things I never thought were possible. Talk about a new-found respect for myself. In addition, my focus from body image has been shifted to body function. I feel stronger than ever and love what my body can do, not what it looks like.
3) I have more energy. I get so much done in a day! I'm more productive at lab because it's all about quality. People ask how I can be in graduate school and do triathlons. I need to do triathlons because graduate school is so stressful. It de-stresses me. Then, I'm more focused and productive in school.
4) It's a great de-stresser. After a hard day, I feel dead. Then, I go for a run. Afterwards, I feel alive and refreshed. Anything that bothered me before is put into perspective. When I run, time slows down. (Odd that in order to slow down and relax, I have to run). I enter a spiritual, meditative state and am forced to be in the present moment. I can't think about how many things I have to do today or what went wrong in lab; all I can think about is right now. And that is all that really matters. Afterwards, whatever was bothering me before is usually not as big as a problem. And I often have come up with a solution too.
5) No matter what's going on in my life, I have an activity that I can feel good about. It gives me concrete goals to work towards that I know I can accomplish. So, even if everything else is in the toilet, I always have 1 thing going for me.
6) I sleep like a baby every night.
7) I see things I never would see otherwise. Flowers blooming. Deer, muskrats, egrets, herons, woodpeckers. Whenever I travel, I go running in that new place. It's a great way to explore a new place in a way that you normally don't. It gives you a different perspective and allows you to be more than a tourist. I especially like to enter races in other places. It gives me an excuse to travel and be a part of a different community. The best was a Thanksgiving morning 10K in 20 degree weather in Madision, WI on a trip to see my in-laws. The run was clear, brisk, cold, and exquisitely sunny. I was accompanied by multiple other hard-core Wisconsin runners. It gave me a better appreciation of winter in Wisconsin.
8) No back pain!
9) No seasonal affective disorder!
10) I'm healthier. My blood pressure is very low, and my resting heart rate is in the low 50s.
My challenge to you is to give exercise a try. Do something active, and something you like. The options are limitless. Try it for one week consistently 3-5 times (preferably 2). After 1-2 weeks, see if you feel better. If you do, I'll give you another challenge.
Options (besides the obvious going to the gym):
walking (especially with a friend or dog)--Go about a mile or for about 20 minutes. Keep a brisk pace. Listen to music to enhance the experience.
volleyball, flag football, softball, golf (no golf cart or caddie), tennis, basketball, or another team sport
swimming, water aerobics, deep water running
aerobics, martial arts, or another cardio boosting class (you can also do it at home with a good video)
jump rope, jumping jacks, stairs, calisthenics