I started feeling pain in my right glute starting in July 2019. I stretched and foam rolled to try to make it get better, but I continued with my daily runs and workouts. One month later and the only way to not feel the pain shooting down the back of both of my legs was lying completely flat on my back. As someone who is always active, this was a big wake up call. I decided that I needed to do things right (not just take a break for a few days and then try running again), so I started Physical Therapy and stopped running or working out.
Gotta admit, on top of struggling to stay still, one of my first thoughts was “how will I not gain weight if I can’t workout?” Then I reminded myself what I tell clients all the time: wellness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I took a look at my nutrition and made sure I was eating good foods and not mindlessly snacking. Not only did I maintain my weight (even lost a few pounds), but it helped me reshape my mind-frame on exercise.
I’ve worked in health and fitness for a while and I always hear people talking about working out so they can eat tacos or donuts or pizza or ____. The thing is, you can’t out-exercise a poor diet! Yes, exercise can boost your metabolism and burn calories, but if you continue to eat poorly, you will continue to be disappointed with what you see in the mirror and constantly be weighed down with guilt. Nutrition is the key ingredient to the physique and abs (and other health factors) that you desire.
So, if nutrition is the main motivator to losing weight, why bother to exercise? I have seen plenty of people jump on the latest diet trend to lose weight and most of them don’t incorporate exercise. Yes, you’ll lose weight, but there are a lot of reasons why it’s still important to focus on the other 20% (exercise) to reach total 100% health.
1. Exercise boosts your mood. Feeling tired and run down? Go for a walk. Take in the scenery, pray, listen to music or a podcast, and relax. One of the big things I learned during my recovery was the benefits of a good walk. I put in my earbuds, turn on some worship music, and go for a nice long walk to pray, calm my thoughts, and melt my stress away. Exercise boosts your endorphins and decreases the presence of stress hormones.
2. Exercise is good for your heart. Your heart is a muscle, so aerobic exercise helps to keep that muscle strong and more efficient as it pumps life-giving blood and nutrients throughout your body.
3. Exercise is good for your brain. Exercise has been found to help memory and slow the progression of memory decline later in life.
4. Exercise supports your immune system. Regular, moderate exercise stimulates immune activity so you are less likely to get sick or infections.
5. Exercise helps your sleep better. Just moving 20 minutes per day will help increase your quality of sleep.
6. Exercise keeps your joints healthy. Regular movement and exercise keeps your joints from getting stiff and reduces aches and pains now…and as you age.
For me, one of the biggest benefits to regular exercise is that my body is able to keep up with my active kids. Not just the day to day activities, but playing basketball with my 10-year-old and having dance parties with my 8-year-old as well. I love having the energy and ability to keep up with my children and engage in what makes them happy.
Down the road, how do you want to feel? Do you want to be able to travel with your spouse, chase your grandkids, have less pain? What you do now — both with nutrition and exercise — effects how you’ll feel down the road. How are you preparing for your future health?