Working out makes you feel good. The science proves that. But exercise, if you stick with it, can do more than just pump out endorphins after a run. It can bleed over into all areas of your life, teaching you so much more about yourself and life itself. In fact, I believe that working out is just one big metaphor for life.
This dawned on me the other day when I was doing a particularly challenging workout at my gym. We were doing a ladder workout (one rep, two reps, three reps, on up to 20 reps, and then back down rep by rep, again) of kettlebell swings and push-ups. While the workout was definitely hard physically, the hardest part was more mental than anything. When you have so many reps to go and you're tired, you just want to be done. When your hands are getting blisters and your arms are beginning to burn and you know you have more -- so many more -- to do, it's actually your mind that is the first thing to go. Your body can do more, but your brain wants to call it a day and go get a green smoothie.
And it was in this moment -- when I wanted to stop at the second round of 15 reps -- that it dawned on me that working out was just like life as a whole, just a lot less serious and a lot more sweaty. When things get hard, when the goals you have seem unreachable, when things go wrong and you just have to keep going? Well, that's kind of like those really mentally hard workouts, but just on a different level.
Learning to push past your mental boundaries, learning to stick with something to see results even if it's not totally what you want in that exact moment, getting to be okay with feeling uncomfortable so that you can grow -- these are all important life lessons. And you can practice them all during workouts.
So the next time you're in the middle of a workout and want to quit, think of the practice and confidence you're building for your life outside of the gym. And the next time life throws you a curveball and you're struggling, just think of how strong you really are, inside and out. Beyond just feel-good endorphins, you've got this. You've so got this.