Chicago — Amid the responsibilities I take on at home and at work, I’ve often subscribed to the following motto — when life gets heavy, lift heavy weights. The motto gets at the fact that weightlifting and activities like boxing and running have often been key drivers of my sanity during stressful times. It’s a beautiful irony: that one’s stress can be dealt with by directing it someplace else like on your quads during a squat or your biceps during a curl.
Besides improving our health and our physiques, these acts become a clear illustration for how we can handle things outside the gym. Just as our muscles adapt to the stress we impose upon them overtime, we can adapt to the circumstances life often imposes upon us. However, to get to truths like that, you have to get to the gym, which can be hard when you're buried in work. Here’s some things to think about:
How much does it bother you?
If you’re not going to the gym as often as you’d like, ask yourself how much it bothers you. If it burns and if it keeps you up at night, that means it’s time to prioritize it. Some long-time athletes and gym rats will report that they can’t function without working out. I often feel the same. My sense of self has been tied to physical activity for so long that when I’m not moving, I’m likely headed toward an existential crisis. I wish I was kidding.
That might not be you but if you feel an urge to get moving — even if it’s a small one — listen to it. Motivation comes just as quick as it goes, so if you have even a fraction of it, use it to head towards your physical goals. That might mean just doing research on the kinds of exercises you want to do. It might also just be thinking about how you can fit a 30-minute workout in after or before work.
Consider home workouts
If you're crunched for time, start with simple home exercises. Do push-ups, sit ups and jumping jacks. Jog in place, do high knees, do three sets of three minutes on the jump rope. Do mountain climbers, planks and body weight squats. You can include just three or four of the above for just 10 minutes and I swear, you’ll feel like you're dying (but in a good way).
The point is even if you're busy, you’ll be surprised how good of a workout you get with little time and little equipment. Try doing as many burpees as you can in two minutes and you’ll see what I mean.
Do what you love
As elusive as motivation can be, it sure comes around a lot more when you like what you're doing. Start off by choosing activities that you’ll look forward to after a long day of work. When you do, you’ll be eyeing the clock all day like a kid eager for recess.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on X: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett