By Ivan Zhelev
Training occupied a major part of my adolescence, and in that, I learned some vital life lessons.
Aside from the fact that regular exercise helps to prevent and manage many health issues - including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes - it's also scientifically proven to boost energy, promote better sleep and aid the prevention of excess weight gain.
The benefits of exercising are countless, but here are four of the life lessons I have learned from it:
1.“When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.” - David Goggins
I have been running on the treadmill for over thirty minutes – halfway through the set time. I am already breathing heavily and sweating immensely. My legs feel heavy like I'm wearing additional weight on them.
On top of that, my mind is giving me thousands of reasons to give up: “It’s pointless. Just stop. You will get old. You will consider all of this as a waste of time.”
But to achieve my goal, I must keep going. Going to the gym and testing my limits has taught me to keep going regardless of the pain and struggle— a mindset you need to embrace if you want to be successful in anything.
2. “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” - James N. Watkins
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth
In the gym, as in life, sooner or later, we all hit a wall, where we may land on our faces. Most people give up at this point as it gets harder, requires more focus and takes longer to see results. Training for years has prepared me to keep grinding after hitting the plateau.
After seeing the results from numerous sessions at the gym and a strict eating routine - I realised that if I work hard enough, I will achieve. Once I started to believe in the principle that consistent effort equals results, I transferred it to my day to day life.
Some people will never be successful. Not because they are not talented or passionate enough, but because they are not persistent.
Waking up in the morning and hitting the gym is not always pleasant. To be honest with you, working out is the easiest part. Restricting yourself from buying a giant, sugary doughnut while most of your friends are getting one is very challenging.
You need to be more than motivated to endure on the path of getting a healthy and fit body. You must be determined - a skill that is not inherited, but developed through many tests of your willpower. No one is born with a set of skills, but we all learn them during our life and persistence is one of the most vital skills I have acquired from working out five times a week.
3. “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” -Jerry West
I love training, at least most of the time. However, there are days I am too tired – or, if I am being honest, too lazy – to go to the gym, these days I push myself to go.
After practising this for many years, doing what has to be done has become a norm regardless of the thousands of excuses I can give myself.
Indifferent to how much I enjoy my work as a journalism student, there are days when I am fed up with it all. However, adopting the mentality that every day counts and I should make the best of it significantly helped me to improve at everything I have been doing. I know that if I keep working on the days I want to stop, I will get to the place I desire to be.
To be honest, what would be a better place to push yourself on the most slothful days of your life than the gym?
4. “The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right.” ― Vincent van Gogh
I am an endomorph, plus growing up in a family where everyone loves junk food, led to the inevitable issue of being overweight, at least in my early teens.
The first steps of transitioning to a healthy and active lifestyle are the hardest. This could be due to insecurities and doubts. The first year of my journey was tough and even embarrassing. But, it didn’t stop me from endeavouring to improve.
My mother constantly reminded me: “Not taking action is worse than failing because you will always ask yourself ‘what if?’”.
The tough beginning isn’t limited to my training experiences, it relates to anything I have ever started. I have never been afraid of trying new things and no one should.
The first step should be taken now. Not in an hour, not tomorrow. Go and be active as soon as you have some spare time, and I promise you that working out will pay off.