The Surprising Ways Exercise Can Make You Happy

Laurie and Shaun T after workoutCan Exercise Really Make Us Happy?

It was the summer of 2010. I had set a big goal for myself: to get through one round of the Insanity workout.

I knew I could do it. No one else did.

In fact, many people laughed at me. Someone even dared me, offering me a bet on how long I’d actually last. Most people, family and friends included, gave me a few days – a week at most.

I Had Some Issues…

To give you some background, as a former athlete, working out wasn’t new to me. But somehow as I got older, life “got in the way”, and I had allowed my health to be placed on the back burner (WAY back on the back burner).

I had issues with…

  • sugar addiction
  • fast food meals (Every. Single. Day.)
  • lack of anything that resembled regular sleep
  • “no time” to use my gym membership (or any other form of exercise, for that matter)

Oh sure, I put on a happy face, but I didn’t feel good in my clothes, I was overweight, stressed out, tired, and anything BUT happy.

Could I actually go through with this Insanity dare and succeed? I was full of mixed emotions.

You see, I still felt like that inner athlete was inside of me somewhere, but I wasn’t all that confident she was ready to emerge again. Maybe a home workout was exactly what I needed.

A Low Point

Before the Insanity dare, one of my lowest points was sneaking off to Wal-Mart at 5:30 a.m. before school one morning, just so I could find a bigger pair of jeans that would fit me. An embarrassing thing happened later that day at school (a topic for another day), but let’s just say I had reached a point where I was ready to change something.

Yes, I was ready. The Insanity dare had arrived into my life just in time.

A Challenge

Since I’m the type of person who is pretty motivated by a challenge, I decided to take it on. After much deliberation (teetering between P90X and Insanity for a while) I ordered my Insanity, and Shaun T and I got to work. This thing needed to happen in more ways than one!

A Decision

I had no idea how that one decision would change my life.

I began on day one at 36% body fat, not being able to even complete the first 10 minutes (aka the WARM UP). I finished it at 29% body fat, down 11 inches overall, after the first 60 days! I still had a long way to go to reach more of my physical goals, but this workout, this amazing, fat-burning DVD of awesomeness, had helped me in so many ways I never saw coming. I was actually feeling happy again for the first time in YEARS.

A Success Story

Funny thing is, it wasn’t about which particular workout I chose. It was more about the commitment and the mental toughness I was developing in the process. Losing weight was a by-product of changing my habits. As I got healthier, finding my happy place was getting easier, too!

Exercise can definitely improve our happiness in the short-term, as endorphins are released and we sweat away stress. But in the long-term, a lifestyle of fitness can do so much, not only for our body, but for our spirit, as well. I’m living proof!

A Work in Progress

Since that initial Insanity dare some years back, I’ve moved on and have done several other workout programs, and I always change it up to keep it fresh. I even became a coach for some added accountability! Currently I’m doing 22 Minute Hard Corps, and loving it!

Do I still struggle? Oh yes, I do. I still deal with some of the food issues, but now my lifestyle is completely different and my mindset is not fixed in worry or pity. As a coach, I hold myself accountable to my challenge groups, and the funny thing is, they help ME just as much as I help them! The bottom line is, life is about continually moving forward, and giving ourselves grace when we fall short.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can’t ever go back to the point where I was just tolerating my life – I want to live it!

Do you have to do an intense workout like Insanity to get to your happy place? Not at all. Studies have shown that even exercising three times per week can improve your overall quality of life. There are so many “gains” you can experience just with a few changes to your lifestyle.

Here are my top 10, just off the top of my head:

1. Less stressLegally Blonde - happy people gif
2. Better sleep
3. Easier life tasks
4. Less chronic pain
5. Better fitting clothes
6. Improved immunity
7. Increased energy
8. Boosted confidence
9. Improved eating habits
10. Mental resilience

But most of all, it’s about opening up a window to life again as you start changing from the INSIDE out!

Add all of these up and you’re bound to be a happy camper!

So the next time you are feeling down, depressed, zapped of your energy, or just plain unhappy, don’t reach for the bag of chips or a can of soda. Get up and get moving! Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. You’ll be feeling happier in no time!

In this thing with you,

laurie signature

 

 

 

P.S. Learn what the Bible has to say about taking care of your health and follow some simple, practical steps to get unstuck. Download your FREE 5-Day video/email devotional, Shaped by the Spirit!

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