Best Thing I Ever Did: Prioritizing My Workout
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
I'm sitting here waiting for the exterminator to arrive. I planned badly. Normally I take Wednesdays off from work, and because I have extra time I do a 5k walk. At this time of year, I have to walk in the morning, when it's cooler. And now I'm feeling stressed because the exterminator might not arrive until it's too late for me to walk comfortably. If I miss my daily walk today, I'll be very upset.
This wasn't always the case.
Several years ago, when I started developing a regular exercise routine, I was very haphazard about it. If I could fit a workout in, that was great. But if not, I didn't get too bothered about it. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude didn't do anything for my fitness level or my weight control.
But then awhile back, maybe two years ago, I decided to really focus on fitness because my cholesterol level was up - and so was my weight. I made a radical decision to prioritize my workout above all else. Yes, really: above all else.
It felt horribly selfish at first. I experienced quite a bit of guilt as I politely required other people in my life to respect my workout devotion. It's not that I was inflexible about the timing of my workout. Quite the contrary, I would look at each day's calendar and figure out where to place my workout time. But this did, nonetheless, require me to assertively guard that time - which sometimes meant declining lunch or dinner invitations or changing the usual family dinner time to accommodate my workout window.
If at this point you're thinking, "My goodness, there is no way I would prioritize my workout over family time!", I don't blame you. But here's the thing: Eventually (quite quickly, actually) everyone within my inner circle began to respect my workout time as much as I do. After politely standing my ground a few times, my family members and friends began to phrase their invitations differently: "Hey, what time are you working out on Monday? I was hoping we could get together for coffee or something." Any initial shock or discomfort over my new priorities quickly wore off, and people accepted my workout commitment in the same way they might accept and accommodate a new mother's need to schedule around her baby's naps.
To this day, no one is offended when I tell them I need to schedule around my workout.
I mention this because I think women can be funny about asserting themselves and creating their own priorities. A few years ago I internalized the fact that taking care of myself is not a selfish act; it's necessary for me to be able to "be there" for my family and friends. My workout benefits not only me but my entire extended circle because the daily walk reduces my stress and gives me literal and figurative strength to tackle the day.
Once I got over feeling selfish and guilty over, well, demanding my workout time be kept holy, I discovered the wealth of benefits I just mentioned. It can be challenging to make time for working out every day, but, you know, we make time for the important things in our lives. As soon as I made exercising the most important feature of my day (which is not to say it's the most important THING in my life - that obviously is the love of my family and friends), I began to reap the rewards.
Prioritizing my workout definitely is one of the best things I ever did for myself.