I haven’t been a constantly consistent exerciser in my life. I’ve gone through periods where I get in a routine that works well for me, then something like the birth of a child, a move, or the loss of an exercise partner, ends the streak. But, I’ll tell you what I love the most about exercise, and–right now especially–crossfit (my current exercise groove).
Ever since I was a couple of weeks into it, I have felt (and feel increasingly more) powerful. Exercise is such a quick way to feel control over my situation. It’s the simplest way I know to push the boundary on what I have control over. It’s the easiest way I know of to pull myself out of a rut. The wonderful endorphin-rush is always nice. The change in my physical appearance is an added bonus. The example I set for my kids may be one of, if not the best, benefit. But I think what keeps me returning there, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, is the power I feel over my life when I can conquer the “natural man” inside myself that wants to stay home and eat peanut butter cups. Somehow, doing this regularly gives me hope for all of my hopes and dreams for my life. I develop a lot more confidence in the person who will hopefully carry out these dreams.
I wonder if this is the reason that exercise is such a proven indication for depression. I know that there are many physical reasons–brain chemicals and such–but I would guess that the mental and spiritual state are effected profoundly when we conquer our tendency for laziness and instead choose to push our bodies past what is easy and comfortable.
I love the beautiful simplicity of natural truths. When we choose to sacrifice a little comfort upfront, we gain so much more than we give up. When we exercise, we gain the very real comfort of a healthy, strong body, and additionally, so many added benefits on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels.
And why Crossfit, specifically? I attend Crossfit classes with my sister. It is so much harder to give up, or hold back, when there is another person there doing the same thing–aiming for more reps in a minute, or the shortest time to complete a set. It is easier to dig deep into myself and find that last bit of strength or energy when the benchmarks are right there in front of me, and I’m so close to reaching the next one. I exercise at home when I can’t get to the gym, but it’s much harder to push myself to the same level without the factors found at the gym.
Steven Covey teaches that the most growth occurs once we’ve reached that point right where we want to give up, and we are sure we can’t do one more. I seem to reach that point faster, and am more likely to keep going, when I have the encouragement and safety of a coach present, and the healthy competition of a trusted sister. I hope this arrangement lasts for a long time. The results for me have been the best I’ve ever had, for a surprisingly small amount of time.