Fitness and Why It Matters To Me

I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled program for this week’s post to talk about fitness, what that word means in my life, and why it’s important to me.  The reason?   I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week because it’s THE coping mechanism I rely on for any challenges life throws my way.  Like elections.

I’ve always been a reasonably active person, but it’s only been in the last ten years that I’ve joined a gym and made getting “in shape”, and maintaining that, a priority.   In fact, I’ll go one step further and say it’s now a non-negotiable priority.  It all started because I had a climb to train for.  It was a 4-month flurry of working out and more sore muscles than I knew one person could have.  Did I EVER expect 10 years later I would still be a “gym rat”?   No.

A funny thing happened during all those hours at the gym.  It became a huge part of my community.  My people.  When I joined this funky little gym, Greenlake Fitness here in Seattle, it was because I liked the staff and it felt like home.  There are no bells and whistles, and, in fact, some people describe it as “scuzzy”.  It’s not LA fitness, that’s for sure, and we don’t have perfumed shampoo and conditioner in the showers.  Nobody cares (thankfully) about whether you have the perfect outfit to do your work out in.  But here’s what you do need to know about it other than it being scuzzy – it’s also been described as “the Cheers of gyms”.  If you remember that TV show, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  There are people there who have been members for 25+ years.

I’m there most mornings, Monday through Friday, doing what many would consider a pretty serious workout.  Do I jump out of bed every morning thinking “oh boy!  I can’t wait to get to the gym”?  No.  There are days (many) when it takes every ounce of discipline I have to get there.  It’s the act of getting out the door, into the car and fighting Seattle rush hour traffic that is so challenging, especially now that my schedule is busier than ever.  There are days when my cardio workout is hard enough that I don’t even want to think about the weight workout that follows.  Today was one of those days.  What got me through it?  A fellow gym member telling me I was a “badass” which made me laugh, and got me through the rest of what I was there to do.  Again – community.  Do you go to a gym where you know everyone?  You guys – it makes a HUGE difference!

At first glance when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my schedule and to-do list, it seems like cutting back on workout time would be the answer to easing those challenges.  I’ve learned that’s not the answer.  This is completely and somewhat selfishly about self-care.  In fact, it’s the ultimate form of self-care.  It’s also 100% about health care.  And for me, it’s a very effective stress reliever.

At least once a week someone at the gym will ask if I have any big trips planned.  When they hear my answer of “not right now”, the very next question – and it always follows – is “why are you working out this hard?”

Because I fought SO HARD to get here and I’m not going letting it go now.

Because I’m so grateful to be able to exercise this way.

Because it’s completely changed my life and self image.

Because it’s how I keep my head on straight, maintain perspective and sort through any challenge that arises in my life.

Because I LOVE how it makes me feel.

Because consistency keeps me from getting injured.

Because of all the tremendous health benefits I’ve experienced.

Fitness is a lifestyle choice.  My choice.  When the time is right, I’ll be headed off on more mountain adventures.  I want to be sure I’ve done everything I can to stay ready … because … how else am I going to get to this amazing place in the photo above?  

Your biggest fan,

Jean

Image:  Gokyo Lake, 16,400 ft.  Located in Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park.  The group of lakes are the world’s highest freshwater lake system comprising six main lakes, of which Thonak Lake is the largest.