#1 Getting over a break up. There’s something about getting yourself physically stronger that helps you feel emotionally and mentally stronger too. Empowered, even. The fact it leaves you looking that little bit trimmer doesn’t hurt either.
#2 Rediscovering your inner child. Ever noticed how as uninhibited children we’ll give most things a go, whereas as adults we get good at one or two things and tend not to put ourselves in situations where we’re a beginner again? But get yourself beyond that awkward I-feel-a-bit-foolish stage and it’s a great feeling to master something new. More to the point, it’s great fun.
#3 Surprising yourself. That you can enjoy the gym when you always thought you’d hate it. That you can swim 60 lengths without stopping. That you can lift heavier than you first thought possible. That you can last longer, go further, go faster than you ever dared imagine.
#4 Working through a problem. Whether you consciously devote your exercise time to mentally working through a problem or use it as a chance to switch-off completely for an hour and let your subconscious do the work, chances are by the time you’re done you’ll be feeling calmer and clearer.
#5 Discovering the power of focus. Feel the energy draining out of you or the match slipping away from you? Bring your focus back to the moment, to the activity, to your desire to win – against your opponent or your own personal goal – and it’s amazing what can be achieved.
#6 Business. Surprised by the difference that re-focusing could make to my own performance, I experimented with applying the same tactic of focus, focus, FOCUS to my work when in danger of falling behind on a deadline and hello, three hours of uninterrupted writing completed.
#7 Your mood. Is there a more natural, more fail-safe mood-booster than getting your ass in motion? (In a non-Miley twerking way.) More often than not, a good work out also means a good night’s sleep, carrying the benefits over to the next day.
#8 Learning about yourself. Learning you have a competitive streak, for example. Sure you’re playing against a friend but hell yes you want to win. The fact you’re playing a friend just means you can take it when they do their best victory dance in front of you. (You know who you are.)
#9 Giving you a good laugh. Like me distractedly spotting my own name on one of the Top 10 Female Performers posters at my local gym. Never, I repeat NEVER, did I think I’d ever see my name next to the words ‘Most weights lifted’ (8th place in November, thank you very much). I’m putting it down to an ongoing fault in the the gym key machine. Genuinely. See #10.
#10 Giving someone else a good laugh. Someone such as my dad who arrived one day just as I was leaving for the gym. “Let me see your muscles then,” he asked. I obliged, pulling my best Schwarzenegger pose. Dad’s verdict? Said nothing, did nothing, other than laugh, turn on his heel and laugh again. Cheers dad. I’ll have you know I’m a local champion…. 😉
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