Between my personal, professional, financial, and fitness goals, I have a lot of goals. After a season of unsuccessfully attempting to accomplish several at the same time, I decided to take a reset and give my all to one singular priority at a time — starting with a committed fitness routine.
What I was hoping for happened — I felt better, healthier, and stronger. But something bigger happened, too. After two weeks, I experienced a much larger transformation than just how my body felt and looked. I noticed a notable positive difference in other areas I was working to achieve. As I’ve remained committed to my fitness routine, I’ve found that it may just be the key to building the habits that help achieve other goals- and here are four reasons why.
Fitness reminds you that the scariest moment is right before you start.
Often, it’s the moment right before starting your workout that insecurity swoops in. It’s like insecurity smells your hesitation about those squats and comes in for the kill. You start thinking about how you’re tired, how 15 reps sounds impossible, you grab more water, change your music…anything to procrastinate.
After a few days of this, I caught on to the power of that little moment. As an experiment, I no longer allowed myself to hesitate — I just dove right in. Lo and behold, it turned out that what I was dreading was never as bad as what I was building it up to be. My workouts were through in less time, and were so much more satisfying.
Training my mind to cut out hesitation and doubts at the gym led to huge strides in other areas where I was intimidated to start. It turns out, all I needed to shake the scaries was to stop overthinking it and just START — in my writing, intimidating projects at work, chores around my apartment…almost anything. You have so much more room to succeed and kick serious butt when you don’t stop to let insecurity in.
Fitness teaches you to take it one (small) step at a time.
Being intimidated by a large goal stops a lot of people from trying to achieve it, so it makes sense that many life coaches advise breaking down goals into small steps. Even knowing that, it’s difficult to apply. When I think about the first step, the back of my mind is still humming with the anxiety of the larger goal. At the gym though, a “small steps” approach is sometimes the only way to get through a workout. My inner dialogue often goes like this:
Ok, two squats. Now, double it. Four. Hey, you just did four! You’re hallway to eight already! Might as well get to 8! And then once at 8, how about just 2 more?
The self-talk may sound silly, but practicing small steps at the gym has built the discipline to focus on one step at a time, and let everything else go. Now, it’s become easier to trust the process without worrying about the bigger picture. Before you know it, you’ve already reached a larger goal, and you’ve enjoyed the whole experience a lot more by focusing on what you’re doing in that moment instead of being anxious about everything else ahead of you.
Fitness reminds you that you have to be bad to get good.
Maybe you want to be a runner but you’re currently winded after half a mile. Maybe, like me, you’ve never been able to do a push-up. And because you can’t do them, you’ve always avoided them- thus ensuring you haven’t gotten any better at them. It’s a vicious cycle.
You have to be willing and okay with being bad at something for a while if you’re ever going to be able to do it well. Fitness is a pretty blunt reminder of that — there’s no way around it. If you give yourself the permission to be ‘bad’ and just do your best, little by little you’ll be making improvements that you might not be aware of in the moment, but are still happening. This is true of everything in life, but learning this at the gym is so impactful because every once in awhile, you get concrete, physical proof of your growth. You realize one day that you can add a heavier weight, or up your speed, or finish that mile.
It’s hugely rewarding, and remembering the growth that came from very humble beginnings at the gym is so motivating when I feel ‘bad’ at other things that are new and uncomfortable. It reminds me that as long as I care more about getting good than being bad and I stick with it, I’ll get where I want to be.
Lastly, fitness requires you to keep pushing yourself.
When it comes to fitness, you’re constantly dealing with new challenges and goals- most of the time, you’re not getting much out of it unless you’re uncomfortable. Once you reach one goal, it doesn’t do you much good to stay there. You add 5 more pounds to your squat, you up your speed, you add more resistance. You keep upping your game, always living in a space that’s challenging and a bit uncomfortable.
The space a little outside of your comfort zone is where real growth happens, and building the habit of always taking it a step further is key to succeeding in anything. It doesn’t get easier, but you get stronger. This mindset and comfort being uncomfortable will serve you well at the gym, and give you the practice and encouragement to crush any other goal you’re after.
Now go crush those goals-in the gym and beyond!