Written by Alex
I was hunched over, hands on knees, stomach in my throat, panting. Hard.
“This is so dumb—who does this to themselves?” I thought.
I was in the middle of a “Primal Boot Camp” –a fitness class designed to ‘tap into our primal selves’ and to ‘get off the treadmill like lab rats.’ The class was held on the beach and involved lots of sprints to and from the water to a nearby picnic table, along with lots of other high intensity activities. Don’t get me wrong—I know what I signed up for. I knew it would be hard and I knew I would most likely struggle. But I thought, “Hey, it’s only an hour, right?” I know that a good, realworkout does not just mean hopping on an elliptical for 40 minutes with a PEOPLE magazine in tow. So dripping sweat and covered in sand, I came back to the question, “Why am I doing this? Why do I care so much about being fit and healthy?” The people I passed lounging in their beach chairs, soaking up the last of the hot summer sun, certainly seemed to pose the same question as well. It’s not the first time the question has come up for me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, after a conversation with my friend Holly later that evening, my answer became a little clearer.
I do it because sure, it helps how I look on the outside and I’m vain enough to admit that I like looking toned and fit. But more importantly, I do it because of how it makes me feel on the inside. If I could bottle up the feelings I have after a tough workout or yoga class, I would. The feelings of confidence, accomplishment and sometimes even a little surprise are unparalleled. The, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that!” To be able to recognize that at one point in life, that type of workout was not even an option, and to realize how far I’ve come, is another reason. Yes, my heart sometimes feels like it’s beating out of my chest, but its pumping empowerment through my blood and veins. I leave feeling exhausted, but knowing that I can do anything I work really hard at. I am filled with gratitude for feeling strong in my own body AND mind. And with each workout, I get to know myself a little better—“How far can I go? Do I need to pull back a little bit tonight?” Putting myself through a physical workout forces me to live in the present moment—tuning into the nuances of my body and connecting my movement with my breath.
And in case you’re wondering, I have bad days too. I have ‘lazy days’ where peeling myself off the couch seems like a horrendous idea. I have days where mac and cheese AND pizza seem like great dinner options. But I also know that usually, there’s something else bothering me behind these cravings. Sometimes I’m just tired, and that’s okay. I have learned the difference between allowing myself rest and finding refuge in food or self-pity—and it’s a constant practice to overcome these low points. On these days, I know that the feelings I mentioned above are waiting for me, if I trust the process and push through by heading to the gym or studio, even when I don’t feel like it.
So the short answer to my question of why I do this really boils down to one thing:
Because it makes me feel alive…and isn’t that why we’re all here?