Endurance: Life Lessons from Exercise

Hunting for a job has been a true test of my patience and optimism, and I guess it’s also been a test of how well I can handle my anxiety. Generally, being productive and having some sort of structured schedule or plan for the week puts my mind at ease. As much as I enjoy free time and spontaneity, having too much of it can make me become very antsy. The past month has been quite a roller coaster.

The stressful not-so-good kind of anxiety is never fun and it can really disrupt one’s focus. All the stress and anxiety this month had started to take a physical toll on me, and my parents noticed my change in mood and were getting concerned. That was a wake-up call for me. I mean, I was already not feeling like myself. I decided I had to relax for a little while–for the sake of my sanity and to get myself back on track. I thought to myself, instead of letting my anxiety completely take over, why not try to make the best of my free time and turn this into an opportunity for personal growth?

One thing that has been such a huge help for me is exercise. Throughout college, I tried to maintain a regular exercise routine but never lasted for more than one or two months. Part of my excuse was being a busy college student and part of it was simply laziness and boredom. I loved taking dance during high school, but it became more challenging to incorporate into my lifestyle during undergrad. (Also, dance studio lessons tend to be very pricey.) I had to think of other options to get myself moving.

After trying out several exercises, I finally found a few dance-y upbeat routines that I actually enjoy doing. I can gladly say that I’ve been working out more diligently for almost three months now, and I have only begun to truly appreciate its value. Gradually seeing my body get in better shape week after week has been pretty mind-blowing, but what was blowing my mind even more is how much it has improved my mood and my mentality in just this month alone.

Here, a not-so-clean cut list of life lessons I’ve learned from exercise so far – and that somewhat parallel to my pursuit of employment:

1. You either do it or you don’t: There were definitely days where laziness was getting in the way although I really wanted to get off my butt and work out. Something as simple as telling yourself, “Just gotta do it” can go a long way. In other words, sometimes motivation needs motivation.

2. …But also don’t be too harsh on yourself: I think another reason why I couldn’t keep up workout routines in the past was that I was always hard on myself. I’m a pretty harsh critic on myself and I have the tendency to be a perfectionist. I realized that including exercise as part of my lifestyle and getting more fit is a gradual and long-term process.

3. Don’t forget to include fun: You read it and hear it all the time – but it’s true and I still have to remind myself. The phrase really speaks for itself. How can you enjoy life if you’re always serious?

4. Surround yourself with the right people/You can’t do everything alone all the time. Okay, the instructor in the workout videos I do can be very cheesy, but traces of their positive attitude do start to rub off on you. Although they’re technically strangers on a random YouTube video, I couldn’t have gotten into better shape without their help.

On that note, I started to think about how valuable the support of your loved ones is. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t taken that support for granted in the past. Ever since I graduated from college, I believed that I had to do everything on my own because “I’m supposed to be an adult now. Responsible adults figure everything out on their own.”

As I’ve learned from others, that kind of thinking can only get you so far in some cases.
And it causes a ton of stress.

5. If something doesn’t work out, it’s okay. Keep going: This has been the hardest lesson for me for a long time. I’ve experienced this one time after time over the years, and staying positive is easier said that done. However, I’ve been learning that veering off track a little is also part of the process, and is something I shouldn’t freak out about so much. It’s just another chance to learn and to have more experiences.  I shouldn’t wallow in frustration if say, I felt like I could’ve put more effort into my workout and just ended up wasting my time, or if I indulged on an unhealthy craving (Not the best examples, but you get the picture.)

Missteps are to be expected. The most important thing is to keep going.

You can read more from Justine Testado on her blog.

Feature image via.

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