While running on the treadmill and listening to the Glee soundtrack this morning, I thought about how much exercising has changed my life in the last few years. Yes it is true - I am not making it up.
I became a regular gym person when I was 20. Growing up, I was never into sports. My parents never enrolled me in a sports club when I was a child and I hated the PE classes in school, in particular running. (I don't need to point out that I was rubbish at all types of sport too.)
However I started going to the gym when I just moved into another city. I think I only joined in order to meet new people. Meeting new people in the gym is kind of hard, I found out later, instead I discovered that I enjoyed to doing step and Body Pump classes and really got into Thai Bo (Thai Boxing exercise class).
The main reasons I went to the gym were I always wanted to lose weight (probably like most young women) and most of my friends and colleague went to the same gym. So going to gym and working out was more like a task, a "duty", like cleaning my apartment or feeding my cats. Never something I enjoyed.
About 3 years ago, I began to do the so far impossible: I started to run regularly. Something I would have never thought of doing before, not even in my wildest dreams. I was one of those people who says adamantly "I loath running. I do not know why you would to that to yourself. I cannot do it." Me and running was like "salt in a coffee", two things don't work with each other (although I saw Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf sells Salted Cappuccinos these days, but I guess you get my point). First I began to run only for 20 minutes and built up slowly over time.
Around the same time, I also became bored with my workouts in the gym and started to do boxing classes and took personal trainer lessons while keeping up the running.
Only then, I discovered that I can get so much more out of exercising, not just burning calories. It helps me to de-stress. It challenges me mentally a different way my job does. It makes me feel so much better. I can achieve the impossible. I started to see my body in a different way, I started to actually respect it for what it is capable of.
Running remains my passion. Yes I know that sounds probably a little bit odd. If I could only do one form of exercise I would choose running. I love running along the Yarra River on a quiet morning with some great songs on my iPod.
I strongly believe that running contributes to reducing depression - it always helps me if I feel a bit "down". Running gets me "into the zone" - it is just me and nothing else. I still can't believe that I ran the Melbourne half-marathon last year. Sometimes when I feel giving up and stop running, I try to remember that awesome feeling when running along Flinders Street on the way to the MCG thinking "Oh my god, I am running a half-marathon and I am feeling fantastic."
The other thing I thought I would never enjoy is doing weights training. The thought of going to the weights section in the gym amongst all these posers and muscular guys and girls just intimidated me. My personal trainer Chris knew how much I feared weights training and slowly introduced to weights and showed me that there is nothing wrong with a normal chick doing weights training. I kind of have to admit that I love the feeling when I can lift more weights now than the guy next to me.
I don't think I will ever stop exercising. It is now a part of my life. I would lie if I would say I don't work out to maintain or lose weight. I like food and wine too much so I cannot afford not to exercise. But I don't exercise anymore purely because of this thought in the back of my mind "I ate chocolate yesterday so I must run for an hour today." I need exercise to stay sane and I want to be and stay healthy. Isn't your health the most important thing in your life?