I’ll just say it…I’m totally one of those annoying people who check-in at the gym on Facebook. I also work out to the memory of chocolate shakes and french fries past, and I’d be lying if I told you that I’d never envisioned myself with a hot bikini body while panting on the treadmill. Alright, so I go to the gym so that I can indulge at In-n-Out and Baskin Robbins. And yes, I absolutely workout to justify spending entire days in yoga pants as a badge of honor. And while I wholeheartedly believe that food, drink, and bragging rights are as noble fitness motivators as any, I’ve come to learn that working out is about more than skinny jeans, wine, and checking-in at the gym on Facebook. Working out is also about training for life’s tough stuff.
Let me explain…
Two years ago, on this very day, my dad was admitted to the hospital, where we would learn that he had only a year left to live.
**CUE: TOUGH STUFF**
For lack of more eloquent phrasing…it sucked. But in some strange way I was prepared. I was prepared to spend that final, bittersweet year with him. I was prepared to learn the sad, terrible realities of cancer. And while I never could have been entirely prepared to lose my dad, I was prepared to face the heap of tough stuff that was barreling directly toward us. Because, without knowing it, when I was sweating through spin class or breathing through yoga, not only was my body getting stronger, my mind was also toughening up.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when we workout, we’re preparing ourselves to dig deep and endure all of life’s tough stuff with grace and grit. And tough stuff doesn’t have to be terminal cancer. Tough stuff (much like Baskin Robbins milkshakes) comes in small, medium and large.
Tough stuff is carrying a big load of laundry up the stairs (or, if you’re like me, carrying it over to your parents’ house) or lugging a week’s worth of groceries in from the car. Tough stuff is parenting and hustling through a busy day after a night of like zero sleep. Tough stuff is taxes and car trouble. Tough stuff is the loss of a pet and the end of a marriage.
Tough stuff is mental and physical, emotional and spiritual, but regardless what form tough stuff takes, when we’ve trained for it, we can conquer it. We can find strength and stamina during times of chaos and stress. In loss, we can find peace. And with each test of our toughness, we can adapt, evolve, and grow stronger.
Tough stuff is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be catastrophic — and that’s why I workout.
I workout to look and feel my best. I workout to eat pizza and chocolate. I workout to make friends. I workout to keep up with my family — and my dog. I workout to maintain a decent level of sanity. But most of all, I workout to challenge and prepare myself for the all the tough stuff that lies ahead.