Training for Life: Creating Long-Term Healthy Habits

I've gotten the same question twice now from people who see me in the gym: "What are you training for?" My answer? Life.

Yes, sometimes I actually am training for a half marathon, but at this point in my life I don't have to train too strictly for one of those. And training for that really only involves running. But I lift simply because I love it. Because it makes me feel strong, alive and excited. I may not be able to lift the heaviest weights or squat 5 times my body weight (wait... is that even possible?!), but I still love it.

The first time I got this question was the summer before my sophomore year of college at my home gym. It was arm day and I was doing a particular circuit. After doing the circuit a few times a man finally goes: "Excuse me, but I have to know, what are you training for? I told myself I couldn't stop lifting until you stopped, but like, you just keep going." I started laughing and literally said, "Well, I'm training for life I guess." You could say he gave me a pretty weird look.

The second time I heard this question was from a girl at my school who worked at the gym every morning when I worked out. After almost the entire year she asked me the same thing. And once again I answered in the same way.

Let me back up really fast and provide you all with a little timeline of my exercise background: I began dancing when I was 3, started working out at the gym when I was 12, switched from dance to cheer in high school and (as you all know) I'm now obsessed with running and have never stopped lifting since that first time way back when.

This is one of the many lessons I am SO beyond thankful my parents taught me: being active and working out should be an integral part of your life. I grew up watching my parents work out in our "home gym" in the garage and then later from the windows in the gym daycare. Working out never seemed like a question in my mind. I just knew, since I was little, that when I was old enough I would love it just as much as my parents did. And boy was I right. When I finally turned 12 I was allowed to workout at the gym, and YES I probably looked ridiculous lifting the itty bitty weights, but I remember always loving getting to tag along with my parents rather than watch them from afar (I have a feeling my 12th birthday may be up there with my upcoming 21st for excitement factor ;) ).

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What I'm trying to get at here is simple: treat your body right, exercise often and stay in shape because you deserve it, not just because you are training for a sport, race or working on that summer beach bod. Taking care of your body should be a regular part of every day life. It blows my mind how often I see young, college students, just like me, let themselves get out of shape, then have to work extra hard to get back into shape for the season of their sport or for the "ideal beach body" they want to have... it becomes a cycle that's extremely difficult to break. I always think "Why don't you just keep treating your body the way you do while you're in season, even when you're out of season? Then it won't take as long to get to the top of your game..."

I think I have the biggest problem with the whole "getting in shape for summer" concept too. I remember back in high school so many girls would start cutting back on food and start exercising a lot right before spring break or summer, and it always baffled me. They'd treat their bodies like crap  the rest of the year, but just because they wanted to look good for vacation, they'd pull a total 180 and try to go cold turkey on all of their unhealthy habits. Your body DESERVES to be treated with respect every day, not just when you want to look a certain way. Health is so much more than a nice body; I can't stress than enough.

And I find that the more people focus on exercise to obtain a certain look, the less it will ever become part of their lifestyle. When you only see health and fitness through the lens of a "perfect" body, it's easy to get frustrated and quit. Learn to take care of your body because you enjoy it, because you know it's what your body deserves and because it can help you in so many other aspects: lower stress levels, longer life and a better mood.

It's so important to make taking care of your body a lifestyle, rather than a fleeting goal. 

Do something good for your body this weekend- get outside, get your body moving, finally cook that healthy recipe from Pinterest, even just get some extra sleep if you've been slacking. :) My thought is that we only get one life so we might as well treat ourselves the best way possible so that we can soak up every second to the fullest. :)

XO nat