Fitness

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.



324.9

Josie Davis

Three Hundred and twenty four point nine.

That’s how many miles I ran in 2018.

Maybe that seems like a small number to some of you ultra running mega marathon super people, but if you had told me I would run that many miles five years ago I would have straight up laughed in your face. I wish I could say not being able to run to the end of the block was a exaggeration, but it’s not, it even be generous. Running across the yard would leave me winded and clutching a stitch at my side.

I was out for a “hike” with my husband one afternoon. I say “hike” because it was just a walk through the woods, barely even a hill to pose a threat. But I couldn’t do it. I think we had only been walking about 15 minutes and I had to sit down and rest, and I remember sitting there and thinking “is this what I want the rest of my life to be like?” sitting around, unable to keep up. Do I want to be on vacation in some amazing place and need to take constant breaks because simple walking is too much for me? I wasn’t overweight by any means, but I huffed and puffed like I was carrying an extra person with me wherever I went. But I decided that day I didn’t want to be that person anymore.

So I decided to run.

And I was horrible at it.

Not just like regular bad, but like truly and terrifically terrible at it. Forget running a mile, I couldn’t even make it a full block before I would have to slow down to a walk. But I stuck to it a few times a week. Running as much as I could, then slowing to a walk, then running again, then walking again. I just kept pushing myself as far as I could each time. I don’t remember exactly how long it took me - several months at least, but I remember the day I finally ran a half mile without stopping. I pretty much felt like a superhero. Albeit a superhero who could barely breathe, but hell, I did it.

Ever so slowly I got farther and farther, and finally found myself being able to run one, two, three miles at a time. I did my first 5k in a sleet storm and finished soaked from head to toe, but happy. I was a runner. Sure, I wasn’t running marathons (and actually don’t plan to, in case you’re wondering), but I was running. Something I really never thought I could do.

Running isn’t just putting one foot in front of the other to me, it’s a dare. Whenever my brain tries to tell me I can’t do something, the runner in me says “I bet you can”. It might be a long a painful journey, just like running has been, but I know know that I can get to the other side. I might be sweaty and gasping for breath, but I know now that I can.

Little Victories

she believed she could so she did

(love this print by Allyson Johnson)

I've been thinking a lot about how I'm determined to make 2015 my year of new habits. All those things I've wanted to make part of my everyday routine for years now, this is the year I'm determined to make those happen. Of course, I've already learned one big thing that rings true for me. I can't make 5 new things a habit at once. It just doesn't work for me. So I'm focusing in on one thing, and giving myself plenty of time to truly make it a habit before I jump into introducing another. 

Right now, my focus is exercise. 

I talked a little about my goals for this year here, and shared some more of my fitness goals and inspiration heretoo. I've been taking things a day at a time, and my mantra is the same as Nike's: Just do it.

running

It's so easy to overthink things, and find excuses to not exercise, so I'm not letting myself. Dont think about it, just do it. And it's helped, a lot. Not only have I gotten better at training my mind not to look for excuses, but I love getting in my daily run, or work out. And it's so exciting to start to see myself getting better, and stronger.

I actually don't think I realized how inflexible and weak I was before I started. And I'm not saying that to put myself down. It is actually exciting me to actually be able to see that I'm getting somewhere, and how far I've come. I couldn't even really touch my toes a month or two ago, but now I can easy bend down and lay my palms flat on the floor. That's so nuts to me! And running? I could barely run a block without needing to stop and walk for a little bit. Now I can run a mile without stopping. 

Basically, I can take on the world. Or, something like that...

But seriously, it feels amazing to be able to reach these new goal posts. I'm calling them my little victories, and savoring in every silly little one.