Sweat trickles down my goose-bump covered body as I make my way with agile speed through the gym. My body is undoubtedly pumping with endorphins; it reminds once again why I love this fitness thing so much. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m somewhat of an extremist when it comes to training. I train to intensity in the double digits weekly. As I walk through the gym, high on endorphins from my workout; it makes me acknowledge a period of time in my life when training felt forced. As a Health and Wellness Coach it has become apparent to me that many people struggle with these same issues; finding balance. Working out shouldn’t be a chore, or a place that we seek superficial comfort. I believe what shifted my perception was a personal experience I had a few years ago; some might think it insignificant… but to me it was a life lesson, and something I will never forget.
In the beginning I never enjoyed my two a day gym trips… and as I dedicated myself more and more to my body; I found that it was something I craved. I craved it for all of the wrong reasons… I became obsessed with having a “perfect body”. My motives for working out and dieting were completely aesthetic. I never really noticed my obsession until there were times that it wasn’t feasible for me to make it twice, and the absence of my passion would wear on me.
At one point that was not the case… it happens to the best of us. If you are an avid weight trainer you know that the majority of staying with a strict diet and training regimen is a head game, as are most things in life. Perception is everything! A few years ago, on a cold Denver winter night; my entire life changed. Many people would find my story less than an eventful… but to me it was a turning point in consciousness, a moment of extreme clarity and compassion.
I slumped up the stairs with fainting energy, and reached for some workout clothes from my closet… not paying any attention to what I had grabbed. I dressed myself, and went through my usual routine: One gym towel, check… one charged MP3, check… water bottle, check… then into the garage, and out into the late night.
I arrived at the barren gym and walked to my favorite piece of cardio equipment with heavy feet. As I pedaled away, I started contemplating barter in my head… “Okay, so I’m supposed to burn 750 calories during this cardio session, but if I work out on my day off it will be okay if I only burn 500.”. Is any of this sounding familiar? As I’m bartering in my head, I take notice to the television screen ahead. There is a woman missing part of her face in a hospital room wheelchair, holding a small child. The image undoubtedly startled me, and to say the least grabbed my attention. I started reading the captions running across the bottom of the screen, and although I started reading late into the story I was able to pick up a message and perhaps a very important lesson.
The woman in the show had mentioned something about being grateful to be there for her daughter, regardless of having to live the rest of her life with remnants of her face left behind and sitting in a wheelchair. It was hard for me to keep tears away, especially in my tired fragile state. The woman was more than elated, and you could truly feel her sense of joy.
The story documenting the woman’s unfortunate situation made me realize something that I had obviously forgotten. I glanced down at my legs… moving in rhythmic harmony with my arms, perfectly even and balanced, throbbing with power. I quickened my pace, and could feel my heart pumping with adrenaline and my lungs taking in the Colorado air with ease. It occurred to me that I had forgotten how truly blessed I am… two arms, two legs, two lungs, a heart, and every opportunity in the world to succeed… There I was feeling sorry for myself; more worried about abs than my health. I was finding excuses why I didn’t want to work out…when some didn’t have the luxury.
This isn’t a story that hasn’t been told before. “There’s starving kids in Africa.” as you sat at a table as a child pushing tuna casserole around with your fork. As if eating your parents’ food would actually save starving children in Africa. This story goes deeper than the wives tales of your childhood. Sometimes you need to change your perception on a situation.
That night in the gym I had one of the best cardio sessions of my life. I pushed my able body to the limits, and left that gym soaking wet, feeling accomplished and blessed. I no longer cared so much about having a “perfect body”. I began to enjoy the process; the process of improving my health and truly feeling my workouts, presently and earnestly.
My training and diet regimen was no longer a race to the finish line, it was a gift to be enjoyed. I believe the lesson I learned here was that sometimes we need to take a step back and acknowledge how we are perceiving situations.
The next time you are lacing up your tennis shoes wishing you were on your couch, take a second to remember that you are blessed.