”I felt like if I didn’t run then I didn’t get a good workout.”

When it comes to exercise, one size does NOT fit all. We read magazine articles about models with “sculpted” abs and “toned” thighs who do XYZ for exercise, and the majority of readers then rush to incorporate that regimen into their own. Not long after, however, the dislike of the exercise sets in, and it’s soon forgotten.  It’s a trap many fall into – myself included.

While I’m all about reading articles for motivation, I’ve realized the harmony of finding your own exercise routine and actually ENJOYING it.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? The quote that “somehow physically exhausting yourself can be the most relaxing part of your day” seriously is true – if you enjoy what you’re doing. Exercise is beneficial for your body and your mind. It’s not a punishment; it’s using your body in a way that shows you’re appreciating what it can do.

Running outside

Running was my exercise of choice, but I soon realized it wasn’t my only optionWhen I was in 6th grade (still elementary school in my hometown) my gym teacher had the class run the mile. After my apparently decent time, my gym teacher suggested to the middle school cross country coach that I run in a state race that season. Thus began my running career. Truth be told, I had it in my blood. My dad ran in college and my older brother was currently on the team. I was bad at first: like, REALLY bad. I got side stitches that made me pretty much come in last. But slowly, very slowly, I got better, and in high school I was able to win races. My senior year I got top ten in the Connecticut Girls’ State Open meet.

In college is when the trouble began. I elected not to run on a college team, opting instead for the less competitive Club Running so I could focus on my nursing classes. I began experiencing stomach pains while running that persisted into the night, long after I’d left practice. The days they hit were intermittent and random. I tried everything, from probiotics to altering my diet to spacing my meals differently. Unfortunately, it seems my stomach is just very sensitive to running, particularly longer distances.

As I’ve learned more about health and wellness during nursing school and while studying to be a certified personal trainer, I’ve realized I can do other things for exercise that are still just as beneficial (if not more!) and will irritate my GI tract less. I’ve begun lifting weights 3 times/week. I now use the treadmill to walk fast on a wicked incline and leave my glutes burning the next day. The elliptical has also become a favorite of mine (which I’m ashamed to admit I used to think was a wimpy machine). I enjoy both of these not only because they push me, but because I can watch videos on my phone while exercising and have so much more fun.

At first it was really hard to break the running 5-6 days/week mentality. Running had always been my exercise of choice. I felt like if I didn’t run then I didn’t get a good workout. Which is crazy! Plenty of people never run and are obviously in great shape. These mental constructs are something we all face and have to fight through. I do still run occasionally, but it’s maybe once a week at the most if my stomach feels up to it. And only if I feel like I’ll enjoy it.

That’s not to say I’ll never get back into regular running; generally, I can tolerate short runs just fine. But for now I’m really happy with where I am. And I’m in the best shape of my life! I feel great, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and a baby six-pack is even beginning to show. And I was always told ladies couldn’t have six-packs!

The point is: if you love to run, run! If you hate running, don’t do it! Walk, dance, swim, whatever! Exercise is so so good for you and CRUCIAL to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle. Just do more of what you love!

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