It all started in January this year.
At the beginning of a new year, as everyone else does, I set a new year’s resolution – get fit, and be more healthy.
So I joined a gym. While I’m filling in the enrollment form, my worried self kept talking to me like “What if I hated it?” “What if I quit so soon?” “Is this worth spending money?” “What if I couldn’t lose weight at all?” – but I successfully ignored all these voices. However, since I was still not sure if I could really do this, I didn’t tell my friends about this.
I know it sounds nothing if 20-something working girl goes to a gym to get fit.
However for me, it was the most unexpected, almost impossible, and out-of-the-blue decision I’ve ever made in my entire life.
For me, sports and exercise had always been just tiring, exhausting, unpleasant things, simply because I was never good at any of them.
In high school in a gym lass – needless to say, the worst class for me – when we were playing basket ball, I tried to catch the ball but ended up being hit by the ball on my head. When we ran, me and another girl were always either the worst, or the second worst runner. Always.
I was in the brass band both in junior high and high school, and I’ve never been in a sport team. Basically I had no chance or need, or interest to do any sports or exercises in my whole life, unless when I had to (because I had to attend the class).
With that’s said, you might easily imagine that I never run these days, and if I do, it’s only when I’m late but don’t want to miss my train.
You might laugh but for me – with these great history and memories about sports and exercising – just being in a gym felt intimidating and overwhelming. Everyone wears sportswear. Everyone seems so happy and energetic, and talks really loud. They even say hi with a smile when I’d rather be hiding or be invisible so that nobody will see me being clumsy on the machines I barely know how to use.
My worried self came back in my head and keep telling me something like this – “You don’t belong here.” “You look terrible, or even funny when you’re trying to work out.” “You don’t even know how to use this machine. If you don’t wanna be embarrassed, you’d rather not to try in front of these athletics people.”
And I listened to these voices this time. I let them get in my way trying to do the new thing. Then I stopped showing up to the gym, and 2 or 3 months passed – so quickly.
But I can’t ignore it forever, because I’m paying for it. So I went back to the gym about the middle of April, feeling so guilty and ashamed after a few month of being so lazy. Then first thing I realized was that I completely forgot how to use the treadmill, the most simple, basic machine in the gym.
I tried to figure it out by myself, but nothing I did worked out, so I had to asked the staff. He smiled and nicely asked “Is this your first time?” – of course he thinks this is my first time! I was embarrassed but became honest and told him that I forgot, but he treated that was like nothing and said, “Yeah that happens sometimes!” – and started to show me how to use the treadmill from the very beginning.
Even though I knew it never happens to him (because he works here!), but I really appreciated that he was so nice not only that he didn’t laugh at me, but also taught me the easier way to start running without any experience or habit of running. He even came back a few minutes later and told me “Sorry I forgot to tell you this, but this treadmill also has this function, and I thought you might want to use it.”
Another time when I went to a yoga class, as soon as I entered the crowded studio, one of the lady suddenly called out to me, “Hey, you can sit here! There is enough room for you!” and so naturally, she asked other people around to move their yoga mats a little and made enough room for me to put my yoga mat there – even though I’ve never talked to her, or seen her before. What a surprise! She was just so nice that she can treat complete stranger like me just like her friend. Also the other people sitting around there were also so nice to move their mats without any complain but just smiles. Yoga always makes me feel good, but this time, that lady and the atmosphere made me feel so much happier.
I just could not stop wondering why on earth people here are so happy, positive, and friendly. That atmosphere once overwhelmed me, but this time, I just enjoyed it. I thought I want to be there because they are spreading positive vives and just being there could make me feel positive and happy. When I stopped coming here I think I was feeling I didn’t belong here. But this time, I thought I was also a part of this positive community.
One month has passed, and now, treadmill is my best friend in the gym. On weekdays afternoon, I just can’t wait going home and hit the gym. Now that for me, running is one of the most exciting and enjoyable thing in my life.
If somebody told my younger self that in a few years I will start working out at a gym, start running on a treadmill, and I will absolutely love and enjoy doing it – my younger self would never ever believed it.
However, these are the facts now. Now that running already became my habit. I go to the gym 2 to 4 times a week, and every time, I run at least for 20 minutes. Most of the time, I try to run for 20 minutes, but end up running over 30 minutes.
Through this whole new experience, I learned so much about exercise and how it effects my body and mind, and this new habit changed me so much in a good way, so I would love to share what I learned with you.
7 Things I Learned in a Month Through Running (Which is My Least Favorite Thing)
1. Running regularly keeps acne away.
Some of you might also have the same issue, but after I started working, I started to get more acne especially around my chin and mouth. Once they show up, they always become so big and painful, and takes like forever to cure.
I tried everything I could to fix this – I went to see dermatology, tried different skin care, changed cosmetics to more gentle ones, took supplements, and so forth. But none of these worked well enough, and acne kept showing up.
However, in these four weeks that I’ve been regularly running, I got almost no acne. Even when I got one, it did not become bigger or painful, but cured so easily. This is unbelievable.
I often heard that exercise is good for your skin, but I never thought exercise could be this good for my skin. This change was so drastic that it was hard for me to believe, so a part of me was waiting for a really bad acne like I used to had – but it didn’t happen.
I am not saying exercise can fix everyone’s problem about their skin, the causes of the skin problems might differ from person to person. But for me, the biggest cause was clearly that I wasn’t moving my body as much as I needed to. I really wish my skin keep being health as long as I keep exercising regularly.
2. Running always brings me a good night’s sleep.
Before I went back on track, I couldn’t sleep well for a few month. Even when I wasn’t feeling stressed or when I didn’t have any specific problems or worries, somehow I couldn’t sleep until 2 or 3 am. Also the quality of my sleep was terrible, so that was making me keep being tired, unmotivated, and a little depressed.
However after I made running my new habit, my sleeping problems were gone. At the end of the day when I did some exercise, I can fall asleep so quickly and I never wake up in the middle of the night. I sleep so well that I don’t even know if I had a dream. It also became much easier to wake up in the morning.
I used to think that exercise would make me feel tired, and yes that’s true, it rather makes me exhausted. However, that actually helps my body reset and recover so well.
3. The more you run, the more your body and mind will love it (it’s almost addictive).
I wasn’t enjoying running this much from at the very beginning of this journey. At the early stage, I often thought “Nah, I don’t feel like it, I’d rather stay home and watch Netflix.” or “I’m too tired from work.” or “Maybe I should walk not run today.” To be honest, even now I feel these things sometimes.
If I listened to these voices, that would be it. But I always try to tell myself, “Okay then, let’s run just for three minutes. Then I can go home.” – and I go to the gym, and start running. A little later, I realize that three minutes have already passed and how short it was. Then I start to think, “It was too easy. Maybe I could run two more minutes, and then I’ll go home.” – and again, two minutes passes so quickly.
Then I start to think, “Wow I’m not really tired as I thought. I can run more!” or “I achieved today’s goal, I’m so proud of myself!” It doesn’t matter if my goal for the day is something really small and easy, even if it’s just “go to the gym”, achieving a goal makes me good about myself.
Gradually I start sweating so much, and I start to feel so good, this time, physically.
Then I realize I’ve been running for 20 or 30 minutes, feeling really nice the whole time. This feeling, is so good. I do something good for me, my body benefits form it, and I can be proud of myself. This experience naturally makes me look for the next time I run so much. It is almost addictive.
The more I run, the more my mind and my body love it. The more I run, the more I enjoy it. The joy goes bigger and bigger like a snowball – and I believe this is the biggest reason I’m happily and successfully made running my habit and I could stick to it for a month.
4. Exercise is for everyone.
I used to think that exercise was only for people who are good at doing it. So as sports.
I often heard that exercise is crucial to stay healthy, but even so, I made tons of excuses like “But, I’m terrible at sports.” or “But I’m not an athletic person.” and kept avoiding it.
However, when people work out for their health, it never matters if they’re good at it or not – because it’s never a competition.
If you want to stay healthy mentally and physically, or if you want to get fit and feel better about yourself -you can, and you should start exercising. You just can do it just because that can give you what you want. You don’t need to be better than anyone because you don’t need anyone’s permission or affirmation to move your body.
This sounds so obvious, but I didn’t really understand this until I actually start running regularly.
5. Body and mind are REALLY connected.
From time to time we get caught up in worries, bad things happened at work, or mood like “I don’t feel like doing anything.”
Since we are human, that’s natural. We can’t avoid bad days completely. However, here is one important thing we tend – we would never come to a constructive conclusion when your mind is full of negativity, no matter how long and how hard you try to figure it out. What happens when we are down? Nothing – but time just flies.
Worry, anxiety, concern, negative feelings don’t serve us at all but only consume our precious time. And meanwhile, we start to feel (as if) we are really, physically tired too…
But I learned that exercise, especially running, ALWAYS gives me energy. It always lifts me up, regardless of what I’m going through. Since I realized that, I’ve decided to hit the gym anyway whenever I feel stressed, or mentally tired, as soon as I can – because now I know that I will feel so much better afterwards.
Years ago when I was in university, one of my senior friend once told me “Almost everything you’re struggling with now can be figured out, only by building up your stamina.”
I didn’t get that back then, and I didn’t even ask him what he actually meant, but now I really believe that’s true – exercise helps me to build up my strength mentally and physically, and that gives me more energy, which helps me to figure out my endless worries and problems.
6. Running gives me more time.
I’ve recently started to think that our worries and anxieties are the worst thief of our time.
When my mind is full of worries and concerns, I tend to take time as long as I need, and focus on just thinking about it. However, that’s not really a good decision – because when I’m feeling negative, I wouldn’t come up with any good idea, no matter how long and hard I try to think about it. The bad news is that the time I took for myself would rather gives me more and more anxiety.
I learned this through running. As I already said above, these days I go to the gym whenever I feel negative, or I think I’m about to feel negative. Moving my body makes me feel better, and I will think about the worry or the problem, after I got to feel better. When I’m feeling good, positive, or at least okay, that’s only when I can tackle the difficulties I am facing, constructively and objectively. However in most cases, after I run, I can’t even remember what I was weeping about half an hour ago.
Sometimes we think “I don’t feel like doing anything.” or “I’m too tired.” or “I can’t think of anything else right now.” – and we tend to believe we need some time to just think, or rest – but this is not necessarily true.
Sometimes we do need time – but if you think you spend too much time stressed or depressed, chances are your worries and anxieties are deluding you. Before you start to think you are lazy or weak, try moving your body. You might feel a lot better, you’ll never know. The “time” you took for yourself “to think” might not be constructive or even necessary for you, but could be just painfully long time your worries are just letting yourself feel bad as much as they want you to.
After running became my habit, I feel I can get so much more things done in a day – as if I have more time than I used to have. Moving my body could kill the worst thief of our time.
7. I can easily come up with great ideas while running.
Running doesn’t just make you feel better, but it also increases your productivity. While I’m running, I can often come up with some great ideas – solution for the problems I have, answers to my questions, exciting plans for my passion projects, and so on.
I don’t know why but when I’m on a treadmill, it somehow becomes easier to think of problems, concerns, and things I’m worried about, … and actually come up with positive, constructive, fun ideas that could change the situation. Also when I’m feeling bored or uninspired, and I need something exciting in my life, once I start running, good ideas suddenly jump into my mind. I think I can make better, more positive, and sometimes even more challenging decisions, when I’m running and sweating.
I’ve heard that successful entrepreneurs always keep papers and a pen by the side of their exercise bikes. When I heard that first I thought “Give it a rest.” I thought they should forget about business sometimes and just focus on exercising, but now I can understand why they do that. While I’m running, I often come up with good blog ideas, and every time I scream in my head “I wish if I could record what I’m saying inside of my head!”
These were the 7 things I learned in a month through running.
Now I finished writing and rereading the post, and I realized there’s nothing mentioned about whether I could increased my stamina or if I could lose weight – even though these could be the top benefits people expect from running.
It’s not that I’m not interested in these aspects. As many of you might imagine, I do want to increase my strength and get fit! I didn’t write about these just because I’m not feeling much differences in these aspects yet.
And I also know that one month is not that long when we talk about having a new habit. However, I wanted to write this post now anyway, so that people know that I’m trying keep my new habit of running. That would make it harder for me to give up!
I really want to keep running regularly, and eventually write about how I could successfully lose weight and become more confident and happy about my body. It might take time, but… wish me luck!