How To Enjoy Exercise

If you hate exercise, you are not alone.

I am human. Therefore, my mind naturally gravitates towards comfort and away from discomfort of any kind. This makes waking up on a chilly Michigan morning and getting my booty outside for a run particularly hard.

I see those insane people who live for the game and for the sweat and for the win, and I cannot compute the amount of motivation it takes to uphold it all. I find that trait desirable and I have tried to change myself into that person, quickly coming to terms with my non-athleticism and crawling back to my yoga mat and Bollywood Zumba. Actually, most of my closest friends are these types of people. I often hear them say things like “oh I sacrificed my body so hard at that game” and “check out these awesome cleats”. Not to mention the many concussions and other injuries of them all combined.

I have attempted many ways of working out;  in order to improve my wellbeing, tone up a bit, and have an overall sense of strength and ease that comes with cardio. But after some body issues, a traumatizing experience on my schools track and field team, and stress with my school work, moving my body while pushing its limits became incredibly difficult. It felt as if I had negative motivation to get moving (or get out of bed).

It takes a lot of adversity and inner battles to come to a healthy conclusion, and I am still making my way there. But one sentence has changed the way I view exercise as a whole:

You should focus on improving your body’s overall feeling from exercise, because once you stop focusing on weight loss, amazing things will start to happen.

When you are doing those painful crunches, slamming the soles of your feet to the gravel, or pushing your bike wheels up the hill, do it for your entire body. Know that when you sweat, that it is natural. Your body will literally glow after a hard workout due to the amazing endorphins that are released when you are in pain (good pain; be nice to your cute bod). Learn to crave that pain, and crave it because you know it’s good for you.

In the middle of my one and only track season, I had what I remember as being one of the worst and most agonizing workouts ever. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but there were literal tears and kind of “how bad would it hurt to purposely break my ankle” thoughts going on in my head. My family and I had gone to visit my grandma soon after, and she could not stop telling me how good and healthy I looked. Thinking back, I was not in a good emotional state, but my body felt amazing. With every action, there is an equal reaction. This applied perfectly to my experience as a mid-distance runner (curse you, 800 meter run).

So find a workout you enjoy, and do not let any peer or societal pressure influence your choice. Sometimes it is interpretive dance all alone in your house, or maybe it is a cute running group that gets you motivated. Whatever it may be, do it for yourself.

Sweat on, friends.

Delaney Cavanagh is a vegan, cat enthusiast, student, and a happy body. She lives a life pointed toward the well being of herself and others.