5 things the gym taught me

Weight training might be a simple form of activity or a tool for bodybuilding. However, in time, with proper engagement, it comes out to be a triggering factor to other beneficial life aspects. Mental attitude, nutrition, and most of all awareness of how the body works. If you want good gym results and healthiness to go in pair, sooner or later you need to take a step further and expand your knowledge on these topics. In this article, I will share with you how regular training influenced these spheres in my life.

1. Motivation

After over 5 years of regular training, I’m noticing many positive effects that physical activity causes to the mental approach. Speaking about motivation, I don’t mean the workout itself, but all the other activities we tend to procrastinate all over again. We need to learn to react for the first, initiating signal that motivation gives. Eventually, is the thought that triggers the willingness to start the activity, but unfortunately, usually we stop at this stage. Days are passing, the thought is coming and going, and we are stuck in this vicious cycle. Open up to new activities, experiment, and maybe you will find a new passion in something you haven’t even thought about before!

For instance, despite I love music, I never tried playing an instrument when I was at school. But after I watched Intouchables, I fell in love in the compositions of Einaudi. Therefore, I thought it would be amazing to once play some of his pieces. I spent few weeks searching for the piano, I bought one and I’m slowly learning to play it. And who cares that it’s far from perfection, but each day I become better and more confident at it. But what’s most important, it brings me joy!

Obviously, striving for better results, the crucial factor is to stay consequent. However, most people stop on this obstacle and already give up after a short period. So how to manage it?

2. Discipline

Short, but regular action can be way more efficient in the beginning than starting with 2h/day of something new. For example, dedicating 15 min a day for a simple muscle stretching/strengthening or joint mobilization will sum up to 105 min a week. Over 1,5h sounds like a decent workout session in the gym. However, cut in such small chunks is way easier to swallow, especially for newbies.

Remember, always doing something is better than doing nothing. Any kind of physical activity is a value added for our health. There is always something to work on, either it is flexibility, mobility, or strength. And if we have a sedentary lifestyle, we should be even more disciplined to keep the body active. Prolonged sitting may cause the development of bad posture as well as chronic pain. So, learn to consistently deliver a stimulus to the body in form of motion – it will be grateful for that, especially in your elderliness.

Being systematic builds a strong goal-focused approach because after a moment you realize that it doesn’t cost a lot (probably sometimes you spend more than 15 min. in the toilet). So, start simple, discover which type of training brings you the biggest satisfaction, and go for it, gradually increasing the length and intensiveness when you feel ready to do so.

3. Patience

Of course, none of the activities would have a sense without visible results. Therefore, the other crucial element in the process of reaching your goals is patience. Either you want to achieve a dream shape or lift an impressive weight, you need to realize that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Nevertheless, I personally believe that if someone manages to stay in a healthy routine of training consecutively for around 2 months, the one shouldn’t have problems with incorporating this habit permanently. After such time, we gain more motivation thanks to the first results – not only through a more attractive silhouette but mostly better well-being.

Whatever is your purpose, do not discourage yourself by failures or lack of any effects at first. Instead, think about the outcome you want to obtain and let it fuel you whenever you have a tougher day. Ultimately, it’s the routine and getting out of the comfort zone that shapes a strong character.

3. Healthy nutrition

Another advantage of training is its interconnection with the diet – eventually, if you want to build a proper shape, sooner or later you’ll need to pay attention to nutrition. I got interested in this area relatively late, after few years of training. However, the importance of the fuel we provide to our bodies is enormous. And I need to admit that counting calories is nothing pleasurable, but simultaneously it teaches you how to create a balanced and healthy diet.

In time, if you care about health, you also start to pay attention to micronutrients, not only macros. Apart from knowing how much proteins, carbs, and fats in total you should eat, dive a little bit deeper and learn something about the intake of vitamins and minerals. Eventually, not the quantity but the quality of food makes us feel better and moreover, live longer. So, how to start changing your eating habits?

The first step to improve your relationship with food is reading labels. A lot of people are just passively doing shopping, placing the same products each time in their baskets, being unaware of their content.

Unfortunately, a basic Polish diet doesn’t go in pair with healthiness and well-being, especially due to excessive amounts of saturated and trans fats which increase the chance for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In Poland we also many times forget about veggies and fruits, which are the main source of vitamins. In addition, our cuisine is also often hardly digestible.

To change it, I’ve learned to incorporate in my diet more fish, vegetable-based proteins, eat more nuts, and a variety of different fruits and vegetables. To combat the region-driven influences, the most important is to create a routine of healthy choices while shopping. The golden rule: let nature guide you. At all costs try to avoid commercial and processed foods, which are the main cause of inflammations and high blood sugar levels. Find some healthy substitutes – for example, grab a box of dates instead of milk chocolate or nuts instead of chips. But remember that in the case of diet, you also need to stay patient and reasonable. Either shopping, as well as eating, are routines, so start slowly, but be consequent.

5. Respect to my own body

To train with full efficiency, you also need to pay attention to sufficient regeneration. Therefore, in the moment of immersion in a healthy lifestyle, you start to seek additional actions which could improve your performance and everyday mood. Through the training, for example, you can estimate if you sleep well and long enough. During my first studies I used to sleep very irregularly, often going to the bed at 3 am, waking up at 7-8 am, and sleeping another 2-3 hours after classes. As you can imagine it was not the best routine.

Now, no matter the day, I always keep in mind to aim in undistracted 8 hours of sleep, going to sleep and getting up in the same parts of each day. It is not only beneficial for muscle recovery and growth, but also for optimal brain functioning. Except for the length, the same important is your sleeping position, which has an enormous impact on the posture of your body. For instance, for those who struggle with forward head problem and lordosis, moving the pillow from under the head to under the knees can be beneficial.

Together with the sitting position, which is nowadays a usual workday for many of us, we provide our body over 12h of barely changeable posture. For this reason, we should be aware of which is the correct form of sitting. The same when it comes to the other daily activities, simply like picking up the objects from the ground or walking with bags full of shopping. The first one should imitate the deadlift technique and the other farmer’s walk. We should learn and keep in mind such principles as engaging the glutes while walking or keeping the back straight, whenever we can. Summing up, if you want to be a healthy grandpa or granny, start to protect your musculoskeletal system by proper movement patterns.

Summary

I’ve started my immersion in healthy habits with gym training, but now I treat it all as a chain of interconnected tools, serving a healthier life. That’s why no matter where you start, even a tiny step can be decisive in the context of future habits. One triggers the other and in combination, they create an incredible impact on your health. Remember, through physical activity and proper nutrition you work on your longevity, so don’t screw it up!

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