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  • Writer's pictureJenn Turek, LCSW

How Pushing Yourself in exercise can translate to the rest of your life

Over the last many years, I’ve really tried to focus on listening to my inner voice, be aware and present to my feelings. There are a few things that have helped me do this: therapy, meditation and visualization, and probably aging! When we begin to listen and not fight the feelings, however they are presenting themselves, wonderful and sometimes difficult emotions come up. But the funny thing is, if we allow the difficult and

messy things to surface, beautiful things begin to happen. Connections are made. And each experience is able to be translated into different areas of life. And if we listen close enough, there is normally a common theme that’s running through most areas of our lives.

About four months ago, I was fortunate enough to purchase a Peloton. Now, this isn’t a blog post advocating for everyone to run out and buy one. That’s not the purpose. What I’m about to describe, can happen with most any exercise program. The thing I love about the Peloton (and my current gym) is that the trainers and instructors are over the top inspirational and motivational. Even though they are hundreds and thousands of miles away, their genuineness, true passion, and belief in you is felt through the tv screen.

Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but that has been my experience.

I find the workouts to be extremely challenging. Getting on the bike for a class with tough hills or intervals leaves my body squirmy and feeling frustrated. But as time went on, a funny thing happened. I began to pay attention to what my mind was doing in these situations and it wasn’t doing my any favors. I began to pay attention to the way my brain felt. It felt jumpy, unfocused, out of sorts, not grounded...anything but calm.It was doing the opposite of cheering me on. It was comparing me to the others on the ride. It was telling me that I wasn’t strong enough or tough enough to get through. My common theme is about failing and not measuring up.

What’s that you say? Therapists feel fear of failure too? Without a doubt. But when my mind made this mind/body connection, it was a lightbulb moment. That jumpy, ungrounded feeling I was noticing in my head didn’t just happen when I was on the Peloton or in the weight room. It was happening in other areas of my life where my fear of failure has held me back.

Back on the bike, I found myself able to settle in. I began to show myself compassion and speak to myself as I would speak to a friend. I was able to breathe, accept the challenge, not compare myself to others on the ride (as much, I’m still a work in progress!) and push myself without being afraid of failure. If I take this off the bike, I can apply all of these same points (settle in, say positive and compassionate things to myself, breathe, accept the challenge, not compare myself to others and push myself without being afraid of failure) to other areas of my life where I want to grow.

Ok, so what now? The beauty of this, is this can apply to anyone, at any point in their fitness journey. It doesn’t matter if you have been working out for 10 days or 10 years. Pushing hard, is pushing hard! You know what your hill looks like! By owning the challenge, believing in yourself and getting through it, you have just told yourself that you can do hard things, not only in exercise, but in life. You’ve looked fear and failure in the face and said, “Watch me!” And that means a lot!

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