Patience is a virtue, and although waiting to reach your fitness goals may at times seem challenging, remembering to savor the process of improving your health allows you to realize that within each larger goal, smaller victories await you. You may desire a smaller waistline, faster half-marathon finish, or simply to move with less pain, but in between right now and your ultimate goal are tidbits of greatness that deserve your consideration. Take a moment to quickly read these potential benefits of improving your health through fitness-related activities, then sit back and ponder the impact your patience may have on your overall well-being.
Spring in your step: Regular exercise leads to more energy because improved cardiovascular health means improved oxygen consumption, the fuel used by the body to burn calories. With more energy you may accomplish feats of physical activity that you may otherwise have avoided, which contributes to improved muscle tone and overall coordination. Stronger muscles and better coordination lead to a spring in your step because it just feels so good to move. You’ll feel and look more like you did when you were younger, bouncing your way through whatever situation life throws your way.
Deeper, more satisfying sleep: Falling asleep as your head hits the pillow… ahhhh. Regular exercise improves your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep more fitfully which in turn leads to more energy and thus, more exercise – see a pattern emerging here? The energy you consume via food during the day is meant to be used during the day for activity so that in the night you may recover; however, if too much energy is left over when you settle into sleep you will sleep poorly because you still have calories to burn. Tossing and turning all night, waking up to ponder the events of the day or to worry about challenges ahead of you are effectively burning some of that leftover fuel, but then you’re missing out on the quality recovery time that sleep provides. The ultimate lesson here? Burn your excess calories before you go to sleep and you’ll give both your body and brain the rest they need.
Ability to make better food choices, and less guilt: After a long run, is your first choice of fuel replacement a Twinkie? More likely than not, making smarter food choices goes hand-in-hand with exercise because putting in the work on the treadmill leads to a sense of comfort and satisfaction that might otherwise come from eating junk food. You will crave nutrient-dense food more than nutrient-deficient food as you get used to feeling refreshed and energized after eating. Also, there is that benefit of allowing yourself the Twinkie/pizza/pop tart here and there without guilt because you’ve increased your metabolism and can effectively process the extra calories – nice!
Improved libido: Without going too far into detail here, the process of transforming yourself into a fitter, healthier you contributes to an attitude of indestructible, awesome virility, so use caution unless you have a mate who is also on the path to optimal health and well-being. Exercise raises circulating levels of growth hormone and testosterone, which is why after a kick-butt workout you may feel a tad randy, or if you’ve been sedentary for some time, feel rather ho-hum about between-the-sheets activity. Sexual health may not yet be a topic for discussion at the family dinner-table, but the bold truth is that improving your fitness ability promotes more energy and improves function of ALL bodily processes, so be prepared to either spice up your current relationship or, if you are single, to find that special someone who can keep up with you.
More patience: Let’s say you’re nursing the idea of rocking the scene of your high school reunion in a subtle-yet-classy outfit that shows off your fit and fabulous form. While this idea may be the impetus to initially get you into the gym, depending on your fitness level and timeline, there may be months of training involved before you reach your ultimate goal. As you face another day of carving out time in the gym and another challenging workout, you will experience moments of fatigue and frustration that may lead you to wholeheartedly believe that you will fail in your efforts to reach your goal. During these moments, remind yourself of the progress you have made, looking back at where you started and keeping an eye on where you’re headed, and then just wait for the negativity to pass. With each day and workout, you’ll get better at curbing the negative self-talk because you’ll have learned that keeping a consistent exercise routine leads to more patience with yourself and others.
On one hand, it is so hard to wait, and when you want something so badly you can taste it, yesterday is too soon for your moment to be realized; however, consider that in the time spent whining or complaining about the inadequate speed of your progress you may otherwise have completed your workout two times over. On the other hand, use common sense when applying the tincture of time – any one of the above-mentioned perks of exercising are valuable in their own right, but if you’re not seeing the specific results you desire in a reasonable time frame, consider a session or two with a fitness professional for guidance on how to balance alternative and mainstream exercise techniques to achieve your goals. Today is as good a day as any to give yourself the gift of optimal health – what are you waiting for?