Exercise is a Privilege: Proper Mindset for a Better Body

We all have those “blah” days when we just don’t feel energetic and motivated to exercise, but that’s no excuse to skimp on your workouts.  I often overhear gym-goers talking about their workout like it’s some nagging chore they have to “get out of the way” before the day is over. I can’t help but detest such an attitude with all the luxuries many people are afforded in this day and age. If going to the gym is the “lowest” point of your day, then you’ve got a pretty easy lifestyle as far as I’m concerned.

As inspiring as they are, I’m not going to inundate readers with testimony after testimony of people who have overcome great obstacles in their lifetime. Rather, I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here–that going to the gym/exercising is not a chore or obligation, it’s a privilege. It may sound cynical, but trying to control all the variables in your life is an exercise in futility. As much as I wish that making healthier choices with my lifestyle guarantees a longer lifespan, it’s just not the reality of things–life is random.

Things beyond your control

When I was 16 I was working at a deli during Summer break to fulfill my hours away from school. Aside from working my tail off for minimum wage, I actually enjoyed my job because of my co-workers. We were a diverse but tight-knit clad that meshed well.

One of my managers – and friend – was in his early 30′s and had a fairly lean physique. He didn’t smoke, rarely drank alcohol, maintained an active fitness regimen, watched what he ate, and was otherwise in good health. Naturally, I was certain he was going to live for many years to come; but here’s where the randomness of life comes into play.

On an otherwise normal morning, I got up, ate my breakfast, got ready for another day of bussing tables and washing dishes, and made my way to the metro. As I stroll in the front door of the deli, I see everybody working as usual, but notice my manager was absent. I can see one of my co-workers with a gloomy gaze in his eyes like a bad omen had just hit him.

I grabbed my apron from the counter and caught a glimpse of the daily newspaper; buried in the corner of the back page was a small blip that read “Man fatally wounded helping neighbor”. My manager apparently witnessed a young woman walking in his neighborhood being encroached by a man wielding a knife. He quickly confronted the attacker to protect the woman; the attacker stabbed my manager in the chest and killed him. Thankfully the woman was able to break free and get help. In many regards, my manager was a hero, trading his life for a stranger’s.

Olympic weights

Treat every day in the gym like it’s your final workout

The aforementioned story is just one example of millions of people who have unpredictably lost their life. The sad reality of life is that people die every day from random, uncontrollable events. I don’t fear death; I fear not living each day to the fullest. To this very day, I still have my managers hat that he signed his name on. It’s a token of remembrance that life is random, but he did the right thing. If I see a woman under attack, I would do the same thing my manager did.

The inspiration to write this article has actually been stirring inside me for quite some time now. I suppose I just reached a critical point being my uncle recently passed from cancer. I just can’t get over how many people look like they loathe every second of exercise; working out is not some sort of slavery.

As far as I’m concerned, being in the gym is the best part of my day. My face may grimace as the lactic acid increases during a set of squats, but I’m still gleeful. Ask yourself, “If today was your last workout, would you be happy with what you’ve achieved in the gym?” If you can’t answer that with a resounding “yes” then put in the work to make that the case.

Don’t take the preceding statement to mean you should be completely exhausting every muscle in your body every day; I’m instead iterating the point that any given day may indeed be your last chance to exercise; embrace the privilege to workout while you have it. Work hard in the gym and have fun. It’s one of the few places on Earth where you really are in control.

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