A few years back, I dreaded the idea of the gym. I had just graduated college, and I would sit with my roommates, endlessly coming up with reasons why we collectively shouldn’t go.
When we decided as a group not to go, it took the guilt away, at least for the moment.
But on days I was alone, I would come up with wacky irrational reasons why I shouldn’t go. Sometimes, my inner (wannabe) yogi would whisper, “Lisa, listen to your body and rest.”
In reality, I had slept until noon, had just got back from sprinting to and from the bagel store and was feeling great.
It was one of the many lousy excuses I had conjured.
Then one day, I’m at the gym, blasting some reggaeton music (love Pitbull) through my headphones, and I’m feeling really good. I was on the StairMaster (now my favorite place on earth), and all of a sudden, I felt a rush of happiness.
The word happy doesn’t even come close to describing the euphoric feeling that had taken over my entire body. I actually felt like I was on drugs.
Not only was I climbing the never-ending staircase, but I was flailing my arms and dancing simultaneously. (Yes, I looked like a lunatic, but I didn’t care!)
With this gush of elation, the epiphany hit. I always feel my happiest, most confident and most alive when I’m at the gym. But why, if I love it, am I always trying to procrastinate getting here, or making up excuses not to go?
If you think about it, it’s kind of insane. Normally, you remember things that make you happy, and you therefore consider them positive experiences.
Take chocolate, for example. If you know you love chocolate, you’re going to be excited to have a bite, and you look forward to the opportunity you get to have a piece. In fact, you may even create the opportunity.
So why have I created a negative memory of some place that makes me feel so good?
I realized I had to change my perception. If I could properly remember this experience and store it away in a happy place of my brain, then I would no longer view the gym as a commitment. Instead, I would remember it as a treat.
First, I had to accept that fitness is something I actually enjoy and love. It is essential to my well-being and livelihood. Just like that, it worked.
I made a simple change in perception, and I no longer dreaded the gym. I now love it.
This feeling must be the equivalent to a “runner’s high.” I had always heard runners talk about this type of euphoria that occurs from exercise, but since I despise running, I thought it was something I would never relate to or experience. But I have now, and it has changed my life.
If you've never felt this, I highly encourage you to try and find it. I promise you have it in you. It may require pushing yourself a bit harder, but once you are able to tap into this place, your hated cardiovascular and endurance exercise will feel easy and exhilarating. You will keep coming back for more!
The chemicals behind this crazy feeling are endorphins, better known as the body's “feel good” hormones. It’s no wonder I felt like I was on drugs, as endorphins are a lot like their medically engineered counterpart, morphine, and they are actually associated with mood changes.
A natural chemical change that makes you feel like you’re on drugs without actually doing drugs or harm to your body? Sign me up!
Once I was fully on board with the fitness train, I began to notice an undeniable trend amongst those around me. The most successful, driven and hard-working people I have ever met were the ones who have fitness integrated into their lives.
To them, their workout isn’t a decision they make daily; it's something they simply just do. Like a job, getting their workout in is an obligation, and there are no excuses. I now feel like an elite member of this driven community.
I'm still not a morning person, and I am rarely ever motivated enough to wake up earlier than I have to in order to get a workout in. But that’s okay because I get that workout in at some point in the day.
Getting to the gym is no longer an obstacle in my day, but a true treat to break up my day and get out of my own mind. It’s not school or work; it's simply my time to let go.
It’s no longer a question of if it is or isn't going to happen. Believe me, it's happening, and I'm so excited about it.