If you are strength training, every single time you lift there are good things happening inside your brain and your body. And you are preventing things like osteoporosis, loss of balance, posture problems, back pain, and diabetes to name a few.
If you are doing regular cardiovascular exercise, every time you walk good things are happening. And you are preventing things like stroke, heart disease, inflammation of the arteries, depression and anxiety.
Here’s the interesting thing. You never get to know what you prevented. You only get to know if you didn’t prevent it.
I know it can feel like working out isn’t getting you anywhere. It is hard to see steady weight loss unless you have put a lot of pieces of the puzzle together. It is hard to see strength gains because they are really incremental.
Listen. You are getting somewhere every single time you choose to exercise. You are preventing things that otherwise have the power to diminish the quality of your life. I believe we need to celebrate that. Every workout is a victory. Every workout improves your health and well being.
If our entire focus is on weight loss, exercise can feel very discouraging because change is slow and we need to be willing to work on the issues at the root. But if you understand and really believe that exercise has the power to prevent these life-altering chronic conditions, it starts to matter more. Motivation starts to rise up from within.
I can see my alternate universe; my other self.
In it, I still smoke. Instead of getting ready to celebrate my 15 year quit smoking anniversary, I have been a smoker for 32 years and I can feel the effects. Every respiratory infection is a nightmare. Breathing is difficult and I can’t do anything active like hike or bike. It’s too hard. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I have no control over this addiction.
In it, I am still overweight and out of shape. Instead of healing from the inside out, I keep a tight lid on all that pain and fear. I eat for comfort daily and I don’t exercise regularly. I am depressed and anxious. I am pre-diabetic and am on several medications in addition to my kidney medications. My health is deteriorating as I approach age 50.
In it, I don’t feel good about myself. I have basically given up. I don’t have any energy and my outlook is negative. I rely on food for pleasure, and I feel like my best is behind me. I have given in to the fear that I will never be good enough, so I quit.
I can’t prove to you the exact picture of my alternate universe. I will never know for sure what I prevented by changing. And neither will you. But the details don’t matter. What matters is that you decide taking care of yourself is a priority, and you change the direction of your life. That is a big deal. That is something to celebrate. That is what it means to be empowered and to overcome.