Why We Work Out

Tonight began much the same as any other night. I came home from work, greeted my wife and kids, and patted the dogs. With my stomach growling, I downed a handful of almonds, rode the ebb and flow of emotions that the kids elicit as quickly as the flick of a light switch and endured the ear-piercing chorus from screaming kids and howling dogs. In a moment of calm (yeah right), I ate, relaxed for a few hours and then proceeded to venture down to the garage for my workout.

Why We Work Out

En route, I passed by the utility closet, home to the water heater and furnace. Something didn’t sound right. I slid the double closet doors open to find water spewing out of the hot water tank’s drain pipe. The catch basin was brimming, the concrete soaked, my workout de-railed. Damn-it! Further inspection revealed a faulty pressure valve, and after shutting off the main water supply, draining the tank below the valve and removing it, I found that sediment, scale and and debris had plugged it up, making it inoperable. With no way to release the built up pressure, the only other way for pressure and water to escape was via the drain pipe to the bottom basin. No hot water, of course, means no morning showers..the sky wasn’t going to fall, but in our spoiled suburban luxury, this would make for a less than ideal morning.

Of course the closest hardware store was closed. I figured with Christmas hours, Rona would at least be taking people’s money until 9 PM, but no such luck. It was 7:30. Home Depot was a 45 minute drive. Could I blast through my workout first and then race down to get it? Unlikely. This meant a start time of around 10 PM at the earliest by the time I got back and put the new valve in. So off I went.

As predicted, I got out to the garage a little after 10 PM for my workout. Insult to injury – leg day! During my light-headed, thigh-aching and lung-burning daze, I caught myself wondering if I should take a 45 second pause between sets, and then shut myself up offering that it was best not to think at all at this point; no think – just do. I did have a moment of clarity, however, and this is what prompted me to launch into this post.

Sometimes Mayo is Good

According to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Exercise controls weight
  •  Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
  • Exercise improves mood
  • Exercise boosts energy
  • Exercise promotes better sleep
  • Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
  • Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

Why I Work Out

“Why?!” I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” Would it really matter if I missed one workout? Would it change anything in the grand scheme of things? Certainly not to anyone but myself, and should one skipped workout really matter? Is it worth thinking twice about? Is it worth one hint of guilt? I mean, today marks day 59 of 90 for this Body Beast workout. That’s 59 days straight of solid, consistent, dedicated hard work, with 100% clean eating. What the hell difference would one day of rest make? And then I got to thinking about my ‘WHY”.

My ‘WHY” is my motivator. All of us need one as it is the essence of our goals. If you want to go to college, you need a destination, otherwise you’re just wandering through your ‘general studies’ courses with hopes that something will ‘pan out’. If we fail to plan, we have a plan to fail, of course. That said, my “WHY” in this particular case is to achieve my 90-day target. After all, I committed to this program, and like any commitment, it comes part-and-parcel with peaks and valleys, highs and lows, sunshine and rain. I then began to question my reasons, and realized that my persistence ran deeper than just fulfilling my immediate goal – my goals are long-term and life-term. I realized that the key to persevering was in removing the luxury of ‘choice’ from the equation entirely.

Not Everything has to be a Choice

Choice, after all is open-ended. When we have a choice, we have back door – an escape plan – an alternate route. It sets us up with options. I realize now that fitness is not a choice for me, and I think this is the best perspective I can offer to anyone struggling with getting started, or with maintaining a fitness program (or anything else, for that matter).

Some things are fine as choices. We can choose chicken over beef, comedy or action, crunchy or smooth. These things are inconsequential. For the important things, though, I think we need to make them involuntary – that is, as automatic as breathing, eating, taking care of our kids, family, or loved ones. It occurred to me amidst lung burning gasps between forced squat sets that ‘this’ is not a choice. This simply ‘is’. This is why we work out. In simple terms, working out is as essential to me as food. Like an artist is only happy when he is creating, any skill, hobby, activity, art, or occupation that we commit ourselves to becomes food and fuel for our happiness and well-being. Once tasted, it can never be ignored or forgotten.

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