Welcome back to guest blogger, Lisa. Have you ever wondered what makes some women tick? You’ll find some answers here.
At 5 a.m. Monday, I woke up. Not because the alarm went off, but just because. I got out of bed, put on some workout clothes, got my work bag together and left the house by 5:20. Why? That should be read as WHY!!!?? I had no intention of working out on Monday. I could think of many reasons why I shouldn’t. Friday, I drove 4 hours to Vicksburg to stay with friends so we could run 5miles on Saturday morning in the 23rd annual Over the River Run. And I haven’t been running. At all. So it hurt. Despite lingering muscle fatigue, Sunday morning we got up and my girlfriend and I took our knobby tire mountain bikes to Vicksburg National Military Park to ride the 16 mile paved loop around the park. This park is beautiful, awe inspiring, absolutely gorgeous and very bike and pedestrian friendly. In fact we saw more folks on foot than we did cars. There is a 10K run in the park each spring called The Run thru History that we love to do. I appreciate that we have friends with whom we can wrap a mini vacation around an athletic event. And then I drove the 4 hours home again in the afternoon. Yet I got up on Monday, and headed to the gym. What drives me to do that? Some would say insanity. So I asked some of my friends what it is about working out and participating in competitive or non competitive athletic events that compels them to get up and put on stinky clothes and stinkier shoes to run, hike, bike, paddle, lift and jump. The answers were what I expected from my tenacious workout fiend friends. But if you look at “fitness” magazine stories or listen to the media hype, there was an expected answer that was absent from the responses I got. Not one person, not one, mentioned weight loss. Any reference to bodies was about strength or composition changes. Now, this can’t be because we’re all at our ideal weight and perfect body composition, I’m not and I know most of my friends have their own list of “I wish” about their bodies. So what is it that keeps us going? What makes us get out of bed at the crack of dawn to punish our bodies in ways others might view as downright medieval? It’s all about how it makes us feel. It’s about power, strength and resolve. It’s about mood altering, alternative psychotherapy and non-pharmaceutical sleep aids. And it’s about fun and friendship. Here’s a sampling of the responses I got. Thanks for your input Ladies!
Empowerment and Strength:
“Because it’s fun to feel like a super woman and beat all the boys.”
“With every punch or kick or burn-out, I believe Boris a little more, that I am strong”
“I love the surprise of being able to do something new, or to finally acquire a new skill.”
“It makes me feel good about myself when I can feel my muscles burn from a workout. I’m also competitive. When I can keep up with a guy or do better than a guy working out, I feel like Super Woman”
“I love the way it feels to push, to push to the point of exhaustion, to give it my all.”
“I love having or finding the strength to lift heavier than I thought I could, to pedal up that hill, even when my legs are on fire. I love when someone, especially my husband, compliments my strong legs.”
“Over the past two and a half years, my body has changed in a good way (something new since babymaking days”)
My personal favorite quote about feeling empowered- thanks to Jennifer:
“I totally dig seeing my biceps work in the gym, and walking by the new guys at kickboxing, to say “it will get better,” while they are wheezing on the floor, is almost better than sex. Almost”.
I agree. It is motivating to recognize your own strength. And a bit of an aphrodisiac.
“ I can come up with a million excuses why I don’t want to work out. So I have to come up with a trillion reasons why I should. Believe it or not, that’s often easier than it sounds.”
“I do it in the morning because I can make up a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t go after work. If you do it first thing, you only have one excuse.
“I like to get up early and get it knocked out and put it behind me to tackle my busy day. I feel better physically as well as mentally throughout the day”
“For me, I think about my mom when I work out. She passed away 12 years ago due to diabetes, and I know that I must take care of myself.”
Non Pharmaceutical Sleep Aid:
“I also sleep better at night when I’ve had a good workout and who likes not sleeping well?”
“Exercise is also a great sleep aid for me. I sleep much better at night”
“I know that I sleep much more soundly at night when I’ve had a good workout. I actually feel more rested, even with fewer hours of sleep, if I’ve been working out regularly. I guess it’s a quality versus quantity thing.”
“Exercise is my happy pill…”
“With every step of a run, I can feel the stresses and upsets fall off of my shoulders and out of my head… Training is good therapy. I am happier, healthier in body and mind, and much more confident when I am training.”
“Sometimes, even the worst day can be sorted out with a run or a ride. It gives me time to just be inside my own head, to concentrate on me. Knowing what I am capable of physically often carries over to what I think I’m capable of in other arenas of my life.”
Fun and Friendship:
“I have never NOT had fun at a competitive event. There have been lots of parts that sucked, sure, but the good stuff always outweighs the bad.. That is more than nice. Training has given me the most amazing community of friends. Sharing a trail run, or a gym workout, or a speed workout at the track – well, you end up knowing someone well, at a level that is different from relationships elsewhere. I get pushed further, inspired, pulled out of my head, encouraged, challenged – lots of good things – because of those people.”
“Each time I work out with a crew, I learn as much about myself as I learn about them. I love having people along side me that push me, encourage me, who make me want more out of whatever we’re doing.”
“As far as participating in organized events- a lot of times there is a charity that gets the benefit of race fees etc. That alone is a great reason to do them.”
“I also appreciate the challenge of lifting weights, running, and doing all the crazy stuff in class … that I would never challenge myself to do alone.”
While there are many reasons for us to keep going, to keep getting up, to keep taking ibuprofen and to keep wondering what the best recovery meal is, it seems the greatest benefit to working our bodies this hard is what it does for our minds. This was all about the girls but I don’t imagine that guys are any different. Who doesn’t want to have a clear head and a good night’s sleep? It seems the answer to “what drives you?” for most of us, is endorphins. We want that feeling and we’ll push ourselves to the limit to get it. Makes it sound like an addiction doesn’t it?
Do you push yourself physically? If so, why?
Special thanks to contributors Meredith, Jennifer, Kristi, Crystal and Holly.
Lisa Mullis spends much of her free time riding bikes on the road and on the trails (also helping build mountain bike trails), going to morning workouts, running for buses, climbing mountains, competing in adventure races and basically playing outside.