What I've gained from exercise that's way better than abs

Josie Davis

The conversation about fitness tends to revolve around one thing : “Looking good” whatever that means. MAYBE if there’s time, health will be thrown in there too. But in general, the exercise industry tends to direct all of it’s attention towards reminding you that you need to look better and that’s the number one reason you should be working out regularly.

Want to hear a dirty little secret of mine? How I look is the least important reason I work out on a daily basis, and I truly believe that’s why I’ve been able to build such a strong and healthy relationship with the gym. Seeing my body change has just been an extra benefit. It’s not a punishment to go to the gym because I don’t look good - it’s a pleasure to go to the gym because it makes me feel good.

If you’ve been struggling with building a healthy workout routine in your life, I highly recommend ditching the body shaming and find some new motivation. You need to change your mindset and focus your sights on all of the great things that will happen inside your mind and body, and stop worrying so much about what the scale says if you want a shot at having a loving relationship with the gym.

If you’re trying to find some better reasons to get in your daily sweat sesh, here are mine…

Physical Health

I know, this is probably an obvious one, but it’s hard to fully communicate how poor my quality of life was before I started exercising. In fact, I really had no idea how bad it was, or how much it could improve until it all changed.

You might also think that your health really isn’t that bad, you’re fine! so did I. After reading a lot about how exercise changes both your mind and body I really do believe that if you don’t have some regular physical activity in your schedule, then you’re not seeing your optimum health.

There’s a ton of little health benefits I’ve seen, but one major one has been my energy level. I used to be able to take a nap anytime, anywhere. I was exhausted all of the time. Doctors regularly tested me for Anemia, worried about how lethargic I was. Not only do I have more energy in general, but since I’ve switched my gym time to 5am and got them in before work, I rarely hit that 2pm slump that used to crush me.

Mental Health

I have been on anti-depressants, I’ve done countless hours of talk therapy, and more group therapy then I ever wanted, but I can confidently say that regular exercise has helped me manage depression better than any other thing has. To be clear, I am 100% not putting any of those other things down (in fact, I’m a huge believer in talk therapy for everyone), but building in a daily workout routine has made a dramatic impact for me personally, and it’s something I highly recommend to anyone struggling with depression and anxiety.

I actually was so surprised by how much it’s impacted me, that I read “Spark” by John J. Ratey and absolutely loved the deep dive into how exercise effects the brain. He really takes it to a true scientific study and lays how how and why it can be so affective. I am not going to pretend it’s a magic cure-all. Nothing is, and anyone telling you otherwise is lying, but it can have a huge impact, and can be so helpful with those struggles.

Confidence

This is major guys.

My husband once described me to someone as “the most insecure person in the world”, which was 100% true at the time. My confidence in myself has always seemed be in the negatives, and I struggled daily with the mental fight to feel confident. Then I started running. Okay, in the beginning it was more of a run 100 feet, walk 500 feet (you can read a little more about my journey here if you want) but I began to realize that I could do something I never thought possible.

That little bit of confidence I gained from running I took and decided to finally commit myself to also doing full workouts every day. I had tried to do exercise programs before, only to quit before day 3, but this time I was determined. I had already taught myself to run a 5k, and if I could do that, I figured I could probably do anything. So I did. I worked out every day for a month. Even when we were traveling and I had to do it on the floor next to our bed, I did it. And then I kept doing it.

Almost a year later I look back now and see how much that changed me. I’m not talking about physically (although that has happened too) I’m talking about mentally. Workouts have taught me every single day that even when something’s hard, I can do it. I can push thought and accomplish way more than I ever thought I could. Now when something is hard, or my brain tries to tell me I might fail, I remind myself I’ve done things so much harder. I’ve already accomplished this thing I would have never thought possible.

Alright, now get going!

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the idea that you need to workout just to look better. You look amazing, I already know it. You should workout because it will make your mind and body feel better, and work better together. It is such hard work, especially in the beginning, but make a rule to banish all negative talk during your workouts. Whether you workout for 5 minutes or an hour, it counts, and it’s awesome.