With the weather gradually warming up here in Ontario, I’ve been spending more time thinking about fitness and fitness culture.
Once the last patches of snow and ice have melted for good, my neighbourhood is going to have even more people going out and about for a jog, walk, bicycle ride, or other forms of exercise that aren’t so easy to do indoors.
Some people workout outdoors in all sorts of weather, of course, but it’s invigorating to see a much larger number of folks getting some exercise on a nice day.
While I’m waiting for that to happen a few weeks from now, let’s talk about the five things I love about fitness culture in general.
The Focus on Sustainable Change
What sustainable change looks like will vary from person to person, but most people seem to respond best to small lifestyle changes that build on each other.
For example, I’ve followed bloggers who switched from a completely sedentary lifestyle to an active one by beginning with a five minute walk one day.
As their stamina and overall health improved, they gradually moved to longer walks and then later to running, swimming, weightlifting, or other forms of exercise.
This is a pattern I’ve seen repeated in my own life, too. Changing everything at once often doesn’t work longterm. Picking one habit at a time to either begin or discard does. The smaller it is, the higher the chances are that I’ll be able to stick with it.
The Respect for Perseverance
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the past five years is how crucial it is to keep going even when your goals seem just as far away today as they did yesterday or last week.
Losing weight and building muscles takes time.
So does learning a new language, finding someone to date, getting a job that suits you better, and any number of other goals that someone might want to achieve.
There may be times when you don’t seem to be making any progress at all, but that doesn’t mean that pattern will continue. Good things often come to those who work diligently for them.
Our world is filled with things that either can’t be changed at all or take the efforts of far more than one person to be nudged even a single inch in a direction.
I believe in both acknowledging this fact as well as focusing on the things that I as an individual do have influence over.
On a societal level, this can be something as simple as picking up a piece of trash you find on the street or holding the door for someone behind you. These little acts can make a big difference over time as more and more people participate in them.
On a personal level, I think there’s something to be said for taking note of all of the subtle changes that happen as one grows stronger, faster, or more fit. Fitness culture in general does an excellent job of encouraging people to track their progress and celebrate every success they have along the way.
I’d argue that our world needs more of this optimism. We can both fight for a better future and acknowledge all of the good that already exists around us.
Like perseverance, discipline is a skill that can be transferred to many parts of someone’s life other than their workout habits.
If you know how to have the self-control necessary to jump into an exercise routine on a day when you’d rather stay in bed, it can make other difficult parts of life a little easier to deal with as well.
This wasn’t something I necessarily thought I’d learn when I first began working out regularly, but I’ve seen all sorts of positive results in other areas of my life from learning how to make and stick to a regular fitness routine.
For example, I’m not a huge fan of calling medical offices to make appointments for myself even if they’re for perfectly routine check-ups. I started to become a little less nervous about this once I got into the routine of pushing myself a little farther with each workout. There’s something reassuring about seeing how far you can go if you step just an inch out of your comfort zone at a time!
Fitness culture’s encouragement become more disciplined is definitely one of the things I appreciate the most about it. If I’d known this was going to be an unexpected side effect of getting back into shape, I might have done it much sooner.
What do you like the most about fitness culture? On a more lighthearted note, how many of you also don’t like making medical appointments?