Dieting is not fun, or easy, neither is starting to exercise. Between cravings, sore muscles, lack of energy, and other problems, it would be easy to just give up. What makes it harder is the most commonly talked about rewards is a toned body and smaller clothes size. While looking fit definitely is rewarding some of the other benefits of fitness are even better.
For the past couple years I have been improving my fitness with weightlifting and more recently with martial arts. About a month ago, I decided to try running. As I was running I was waiting for the familiar pains I’d experienced on all previous attempts to run, but amazingly it never happened. Instead of feeling like I was going to die, I ran 2 miles and when I was done I felt great. I wasn’t out of breath, didn’t have any cramps or pain, and felt like I could have even run further. I felt capable. I felt strong. I felt like I could ask my body to perform and it would. That is an absolutely amazing feeling.
The further from fit you are the more amazing the feeling of physical ability will be. There will also be more milestones along the way, standing without a struggle, not getting winded climbing stairs, or playing tag with your kids for as long as they want to. Those milestones are the real motivators.
I feel my body is a dependable friend now instead of something holding me back. If I want to go backpacking in the mountains, I know I can depend on my legs to carry me to the best spots. If I need to do some yard work, I don’t worry about being worn down afterward. Heck, I, the non-runner, even signed up for a 5k because I know that now that I take care of my body, my body will do what I ask of it.
Since getting fit and eating right I have the energy to do all I want to do every day. I no longer get sick every time my kids do. On the rare occasions I am sick, it is typically mild, more of an annoyance, and I am quickly recovered. Eating healthy means I no longer feel sluggish after meals and my digestion functions like it should. When I go to the doctor I get a “Good job!” not a lecture.
Because getting fit and eating healthy is not easy, doing so is a great confidence boost. The sense of accomplishment from that can help you to realize what you are capable of. This can spread to other areas of your life and things that seemed impossible before start to seem feasible.
Then we come back to physical appearance but let’s focus on how that makes you feel. All the little annoyances of being out of shape are now gone. You don’t have to worry about muffin top, flappy arms, or love handles. Those little reminders of being out of shape were a constant hit to our self-esteem. In contrast, as you get in shape you start to see the rewards in the mirror and as the different areas improve you feel in control of your own body.
As you travel your fitness journey pay attention to the smaller changes along the way. Don’t get discouraged on the bad days. Remember that one day your body will reward you for your hard work with health and ability.