When I first started going to the gym, I did not really like it. Over time, it was still hard. It felt like work. I felt self-conscious. It felt boring. I could go on. But the bottom line is it was not very enticing. However, I always left feeling better than when I came and thankfully I went long enough to see some unintended consequences.
I expected to feel stronger, healthier, and hopefully lose weight. What I did not expect was that I would find my passion there (dancing). Not only did I find my passion, but I also found motivation. I did not feel motivated to go to the gym in the beginning. I only felt motivated to change. But once I started feeling better and discovered dancing, my passion and my feeling of improved wellness grew my motivation.
I did not expect to go to the gym and improve my relationships with geographically distant friends and relatives. Yet, I did because while I was on the treadmill, I was able to keep up with social media and not feel guilty or like I was being unproductive.
I did not expect to get other tasks done there. Yet I did, again because anything I could do on my phone I could do while on the treadmill, stationary bike and/or the stair climber. I could meditate, decompress, clear out my email, take an online class, watch a motivational video, do a brain dump into my notepad, or let myself mull over something that had been taking up too much head space. The time spent at the gym was uninterrupted personal development time. I prioritized the time for personal development of weight loss and fitness, but it turned out to allow for a lot more personal development in my life!
I did not expect to learn by action the power of not quitting, but instead letting any gaps be “breaks;” that even when things happened that derailed my habits or progress, it could be only temporary, if I made the choice to go back as soon as possible. And I did. Not because I wanted to. Sometimes the break was long enough that I lost my momentum…my motivation. Yet this time, I was armed with the knowledge that motivation is not necessary. I could go anyway. So I did. And it returned. And my progress picked up right where it left off.
These things did not become noticeable right away. Only when multiplied by time, I have become joyfully aware of all that I have learned from the simple habit of making the gym a priority in my life. I have learned more patience. I have learned the power of doing something even when I don’t feel like it. I have learned that small changes are not only worthwhile, but huge if you give them time to grow. I have realized that this newfound power can be applied to anything and in fact, small changes are the only way because the only time we really have is now and in the “now” we only really have time to do small things, because “now” is short; however, small change after small change now after now adds up to big changes.
The biggest change is that now I not only have a habit of going to the gym, but I actually like it and desire it as much as I do anything that I used to desire…say, for instance, a chocolate chip cookie. If you had told me back then that I would “want” to go to the gym, I would have looked at you like you were an alien. Yet here I am and it is true. It makes me wonder what else can change like this if given enough time to harvest.
Since last year I have lost 40 pounds, multiplied my energy level, done more active things with my children, read more books, learned new things, discovered my passion, done a 50-floor stair climb, and become more hopeful and optimistic than I was before in my life. And it all started with going to the gym. This, my friend, is only the beginning. What does your beginning look like?