Would it be that fitness is only good for great physique and a healthy heart? Well, that would already be enough you ungrateful millennial. The end.
When you go work out, and struggle, what is driving you? How to make sure you never skip this training ever again?
If you’re like me, sometimes you wonder how to fit training into your already jam-packed schedule.
You tell yourself: Today, I’m going to work out.
But then, guess what, Jenny from the product dev team can’t make it to work due to severe constipation. And you’re going to have to work your ass off to meet the deadlines. No pun intended.
On that day, you might think:
Postponing your training for the next day is understandable. It’s ok; you’ll train two days in a row and will reap the same benefits.
Many have come up with tips & tricks on how to make sure you don’t miss out that training. Put your snickers on first thing in the morning; do a quick 7-minute workout; etc. I’ve read a bunch of them.
The thing is:
It’s tapping the wrong motivation source. You’re focusing on the how instead of the why. But once you nail that reason why, the what doesn’t hurt at all. Sports is a game that trains you for life. It’s the kindergarten of your real struggles. The foreskin of all your hardest challenges. Or maybe that was too much of a stretch.
How so, would you ask?
Inspired by the Buddhist teachings, I realized fitness improves 6 qualities. Those traits match the sought-after perfections of a Bodhicitta.
Side note: All this implies that you challenge yourself. If you run 5 miles every day, you’re not pushing yourself. And thus you’re not ripping the full benefits of working out. You need to strive to beat your PB (personal best) every time you hit that gym, every new lap you take. Otherwise, you’re not doing sports; you’re looking for a good conscience.
Let’s get to it.
1. SportS teaches you to give everything you have
When you work out, you are giving:
- To yourself. It’s a time consecrated to you. No emails, no interruption. Cell phones are not allowed. You’re giving your best at the very moment. You’re all in. You don’t keep anything for yourself; you don’t save anything for later, ‘just in case’.
- To others. You come up emptied and stress-free after a workout session, and can be more aware of others. You’re in a state of well being and active relaxation. You can listen better once the inner agitation settles.
2. SportS enhances your moral & mental discipline
Practicing sport is a form of respect to yourself and your body. You want to take care of that machine. It will bear with you throughout the years. Unless you get killed by a coconut tomorrow (the odds being 1 in 270,000,000 – so if you’re that guy, sorry, skip this article, and enjoy the dolce vita coco).
Being able to challenge yourself. No matter the day. No matter how tired you feel when you get to the gym. Making sure you push yourself to your limits, and then a little bit more. All this strengthens the mind.
3. SportS boosts your patience & acceptance
You learn that progress takes time, and it’s a daily practice. You can’t expect to show up once every month to the gym and get results. As you can’t expect to get results after a week where you showed up twice a day. Because life doesn’t work that way.
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. But remember, don’t be that guy that only wants to finish the marathon. Be that Kenyan guy that wants to win it. It’s a game, but you need to try to excel at it.
Also, accepting your current limits and being able to see how much there is to learn is an invaluable lesson. Train to failure. Embrace your breaking points. Say YES to them.
And keep pushing.
4. SportS develops your taste for effort
And more precisely joyful effort.
We can trick our brain into becoming enthusiastic about it.
Haven’t you noticed?
Those days when you don’t want to work out, but still go to the gym. And after a few minutes into the workout, you start pushing yourself and enjoying it?
Behaviors shape who you are.
Working out is fun, it’s a game. But it’s a game where you strive for continuous improvement, where you try to do better all the time than your last PB. It can teach you how to grow in every area of your life, in a safe place like a gym. A lab for real life.
5. SportS improves your concentration
Working out teaches you how to be present and mindful in the training.
Think about every time you had a great workout. You were into each rep. You were not having long conversations or scrolling down your feed. You immersed yourself into the moment.
And guess what?
This kind of training prepares you and allows you to develop a state of concentration in real life. Concentration is like a muscle; the more you use it, the more it grows.
6. SportS makes you wiser
Wisdom in life is the ultimate goal of Buddhist. An enlightened soul. A Bodhisattva.
The 5 qualities above make you wiser. You grow physically & mentally. You know what? Freak it, you even grow emotionally and spiritually.
The aura of being healthy in one domain fosters improvements in many other domains. You start eating healthy, drinking less, sleeping more and waking up earlier. You start being more resistant to unforeseen events. You find your center with ease and stay aligned no matter what.
Knowing that you can challenge and beat your past self is the most rewarding feeling you can have. You discover that your body’s limits are farther than you thought. And this is mind-blowing.
Why? 3 reasons:
- It means that what you might think you can’t do is achievable.
- It shows that you can improve (growth mindset vs. fixed mindset).
- It proves that acerbity doesn’t kill you. It makes you stronger. Literally and metaphorically. And when you look back, you realize that this rough time was only temporary. But the feeling of growth lasts way longer. The reward exceeds by far the pain.
Not to mention the link between good fitness habits and:
You need struggles. We all do. Fitness is the most accessible and down to earth struggle one can get. It’s easy; it’s cheap. It only relies on you showing up at the gym, no matter what. Remember the greater teachings of fitness. Realize it’s not about the abs; it’s about the person you become. And you’ll never be able to afford to skip that workout again. Trust me. Plus, having a 6-pack won’t hurt you.
Everything worth having hurts.
– Laurell K. Hamilton
If you can’t handle a 60-minute workout, how are you expecting to manage any real-life project?
Stop self-indulging. Stop finding excuses. Start doing. Don’t listen to yourself so much. Your mind doesn’t work for you unless you make it do so.
Are you going to endure life as it comes? Or you going to shape the life you want?
Now, what’s next?
Open that calendar app. Schedule 3 to 4 workout sessions for this week. And go to them, no matter what. It’s not negotiable. If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer. If you can’t, look up an 8-week training routine online. And stick to it. At the end of each week, assess your progress. Track everything. The dumbbell weights, the time spent at the gym, your weight, body measurements, etc. Make progress measurable.
So, when is your next training?