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5 Gifts Every Fit Mom Loves to Receive

 

If there’s a special Mom in your life who loves to stay active and fit, I’ve got some fail-proof gift ideas to show her how much you appreciate her this Mother’s Day. Here are my top 5 Mother’s Day gift ideas for the active mom.

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  1. Sports Massage

I could not recommend this more! If the mom in your life is slinging iron and diaper bags, she needs this. Sports massage is not all essential oils and light pressure like the more traditional Swedish massage. It’s intense and meant to work out those myofascial adhesions (knots) that can build up over time. Any active mama will be happy to have the relief and increased range of motion she’ll gain from a good sports massage.

If you’re in the South Denver, Colorado area, you HAVE to send her to Rhonda at FORMOTION Manual Therapies.

 

  1. Gym Clothes

Every fitness-minded mom wants gym clothes. You can’t lose here. Just don’t go cheap because quality matters! Go check her closet so you get the right size. Tanks, leggings, sport bras, and shorts. We want all of it. Trust me.

My FAVORITE brand of gym clothes right now is Hylete. I want everything in their Spring 2018 Catalog and I’m betting your fit mom will too.

 

  1. Fitness Watch

If the mama on your mind doesn’t have a fitness watch, she probably wants one, and if she does, she probably wouldn’t mind an upgrade. There are tons of them on the market and I know it can be a challenge to choose the right one, so here are a couple of things to look for:

  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Water Resistance
  • Reliable GPS

I like my trusty Polar M200. It’s stylish with a round face and has all the above-mentioned features along with many more. If you want something more cutting edge, I recommend a Garmin watch (I like this one) or the brand new FitBit Versa.

 

  1. Mini Bands

There’s not a piece of equipment more versatile than bands, in my opinion, and sometimes the gym just doesn’t have a good set! Your fit mama will be so happy to have her own. I recommend these bands.

 

  1. Pedicure

If the mother you love is a runner, a lifter, a crossfitter, a dancer, or any other kind of athlete, her feet need some attention. Get the woman a pedicure! Check her schedule and make her an appointment for a pedicure at a nice place with the fancy spa water. She will thank you!

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Mother’s do so much for all of us and they deserve some special treatment, don’t they?! Any of these items will be a home-run for the active mom in your life this Mother’s Day. Get to shopping and don’t forget to tell her just how wonderful she is!

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Embracing Fitness as a Training Ground for Building Better Character

Pain hurts. Struggle can be agonizing. Completing a project that is mentally or physically challenging can feel tedious and uncomfortable.

So, we avoid. We put things off. Procrastinate. Hire the hard work out to someone better suited than us. We stuff down our pain instead of opting for healing because it feels easier.

 

And even though we feel weak, ashamed, and like a complete fraud when we quit or avoid hard things, we keep trudging down the same path.

 

Some of us spend our whole lives avoiding struggle. We parent our children from the sole motivation of keeping them from heartbreak and pain. And we live our lives from the same goal.

 

And then we wish. We wish we had done the thing we always said we’d do. We wish we knew how to build this or play that. We wish we were more successful, healthier, stronger, better at relationships. We wish.

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All the influential and inspiring people in the world tell us the same thing. Embrace fear. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The clichés ring in our ears like church bells at noon, but we know we’ll dismiss them as soon as we encounter a difficult situation. They’re right, we’re sure. But comfort is addicting.

 

What we don’t know, is that running toward pain and struggle and fear and discomfort isn’t just for accomplishing BIG dreams and finally checking that incredible thing off our bucket list. Nope. It’s necessary just to become better people than we are today. Right now.

 

To move forward at all, we have encounter at least some discomfort. It’s essential. We are either facing something hard head on, or we are stagnant in our character. It’s how life works. We are overcomers or we are succumbers.

 

It’s so daunting though, right? Facing the hurt and adversity in our path in order to become ourself. The real, whole, self we always wanted to be.

What if there was a practicing ground for doing hard things? A less daunting place for risking a little embarrassment in order to become more complete, more generous, more loving, and more alive versions of ourselves?

 

Fitness is that place for me. I get to choose everyday between comfort and struggle. Excuses and integrity. Shame and courage. Jealousy and generosity. Succumbing and overcoming.

 

Does that sound a little off-base? A little too small and easy? Well, hear me out.

 

I am an introvert to the core. I like to be home with coffee and quiet, and most days when I drop my kids off at school, I think to myself that the easy, comfortable thing to do would be to go home and drink my coffee in peace, read a book, or stroll around Target alone.IMG_2190

But, I have a choice to make. This is my prime time to take care of my body. I know if I don’t do it then, I will struggle to find time to do it later. So, I am cultivating a practice of embracing something that feels a little like a struggle some days to do the better thing. The thing that will bring me more benefit.

 

See, I know I am a better mother and wife and person when I take time to exercise my body AND I always feel really good when I finish my workout, physically and mentally. Of course, I take time to rest and read and enjoy quiet time regularly, but that is not a healthy habit for me to embrace every morning at the sacrifice of moving my body, so I have to risk discomfort to build my character and my health.

 

Now that I have been committed to this practice for a while, I have found it easier to do the other things that I used to put off and make healthy choices in other areas of my life. I will have the hard conversation with a loved one now because I know it leads to a better relationship. I know a messy house causes me stress, so now I fold the laundry instead of watching television. I call on a friend when I’m struggling emotionally instead of isolating, even though going inward feels more comfortable to me.

 

Do you see where I’m going with this? Using fitness as a training ground for life may sound silly and inconsequential, but it has made a real impact in my life. I know what it says about my character when I plan to do 5 sets of squats, but quit after 4 because I’m tired or it sounds too hard today. And I am taking that lesson into the rest of my life. I will play with my kids for 20 minutes instead of 5 because I know what that means to them and says about me.

 

When I feel jealous of another woman at the gym because she is leaner or stronger than me, I can choose to go home and pick her apart in my head or to my husband OR I can choose to notice my jealousy, go to her, and give her a compliment.

 

So, I aim for the latter. I am an introvert who approaches strangers in the gym to give

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them

compliments. Regularly. Because I would rather be an encouraging woman than a jealous one. And, you know what? I will probably never see that person again. It’s an easy way to practice. Way less threatening than approaching a colleague or school mom, but it’s a good lead-up for encouraging those women too.

 

Maybe even this feels overwhelming. So just start with one thing. Wipe down your yoga mat, or gym equipment when you’re done with it because you are not a lazy or entitled person. Be the person you want to be for just one hour at the gym. And then, watch how your life changes outside of it.

 

Fitness can be just about your body if you want, but there is so much more that you can gain. What if you tried embracing all of it to welcome more wholeness, strength, and joy into your life?

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3 Things Every Exerciser Needs

IMG_1085Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated. You can get a perfectly good workout at home without dumbbells, benches, or pull up bars. But, as a personal trainer, here are the three things I think every exerciser should invest in. And don’t worry, none of these are going to break your bank.

1. A Stopwatch

Okay, I know this seems too

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I know you may think you can accurately count seconds in your head, but you probably can’t. Or you’ll get distracted. Or you’ll pick up your phone and five whole minutes later (which will feel like 30 seconds) you’ll finally get to your next set or round.

So, just use a stopwatch to make sure you are timing your rests. Your workouts will be so much more efficient and every phone has one these days, so there’s really no excuse not to!

2. A Foam Roller

There is no question about it, this is absolutely the piece of equipment that I recommend most often. If you don’t have one, you need one, in my opinion.

IMG_1096Foam rollers allow you to basically massage out knots in your muscles. Knots in your muscles, or adhesions as we call them in the fitness world, will make you uncomfortable, alter your movement patterns, and eventually lead to injury.

Foam rolling (a.k.a. self-myofascial release) is essential to keeping your muscles healthy, maintaining flexibility, and reducing soreness. And, you can pick one up for around $30, so it’s affordable for most anyone.

3. A good pair of shoes

Are you pulling out the same grass-stained, 6-year-old sneakers you wear to mow the lawn when it’s time for a workout? If so, stop it right now and get yourself to the shoe store!

A good shoe is so important! You are putting a lot of pressure on your feet when you exercise, so you need to take care of them by giving them the proper support for the activities you’re doing.

For most people, a cross-trainer will be sufficient. If you’re doing power lifts, you’ll want to consider something with a more solid sole. If you’re doing plyometrics, jumping, etc., you’ll want something more flexible.

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Not sure what shoe to buy? There are plenty of shoe stores that will assess you and help you find the right one.

Once you have these three essentials, you’ll be set for an efficient, safe, and comfortable workout.

Are you already using any of these? Is there anything you find to be absolutely essential to your workout that isn’t on the list? I want to hear about it! Let me know below.

 

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Routine is not a four-letter word

 

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Image credit: Bobmaconbusiness.com
My wife and the other half of the Lynx Fitness duo, Kim, was recently putting together a yoga-inspired workout plan for a client when, during her research, she came across the following passage from a book by Judith Lasater.

“…renew your commitment to practice on an ongoing basis … The highest form of discipline is consistency: powerful transformation can come from regularity.

That last part resonated with both of us. It is such a simple statement yet it holds a mighty truth, especially as it relates to committing to a lifestyle of health and fitness.

In our time as personal trainers, stressing the importance of an all-in commitment to the routine of a fitness program has been the No. 1 thing Kim and I have to work through with our clients. It’s not easy to convince people that the transformation they desire comes from regularity – a term far too often associated with boredom and stagnation.

Interestingly enough, Kim’s discovery of this powerful statement on the importance of consistency comes as I am working my way through reading the book, “The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business.

In one section of “The Power of Habit,” author Charles Duhigg describes research performed in 2002 by New Mexico State University in which 266 people who worked out at least three times a week were studied to understand why they were so committed to their exercise regimen.

The study found that while they all had different reasons for beginning an exercise program – for various motivations and goals – they continued because they, in essence, craved how exercise made them feel. So much so that it became a habit as powerful as a smoker’s addiction.

Ninety-two percent of those studied in one group said they exercised because they essentially craved the way they felt after a workout – the endorphin rush. Another group responded at a 67-percent clip that working out provided a sense of accomplishment as they tracked their progress, which they craved.

Here’s what all this really boils down to: To realize the fullness of your body’s potential and to achieve your health and fitness goals, it is going to be hard not only as you begin this new lifestyle, but also at times along the way when your life circumstances change or your goals change or as setbacks arise.

In those times, as Lasater said in her book, commit and recommit to consistency on an on-going basis. Commit to regularity. Commit to just committing.

Because if you do, there will come a point where you forget that it’s hard and you’ll cross a threshold where it – exercise, fitness, health – just becomes who you are. You’ll find joy in the routine of working out. You’ll crave the rush of a completed workout more than you’ll dread starting one.

And that is where your powerful transformation truly begins.

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Are you the 9 percent?

The following is a guest blog by my friend, Sarah Siders. Sarah is a licensed Master Social Worker and runs her own life consulting business and a client of Kim Ashford Fitness! If you’re interested in learning more about Sarah’s work, visit her website.

If you made a New Year’s Resolution this year and you’re reading this with your resolution still intact, congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming one of the mere 9 percent of people (in the United States) who articulate a resolution and follow through.

If this statistic seems painfully small, just think of all the times you’ve made other goals and quit almost as soon as you started. Some of the main reasons people quit pursuing their goals are the discouragement of not meeting their deadlines or setting expectations for themselves that are impossible.

So what sets the 9 percent apart from the 91 percent? Let’s get in the head of the 91 percent to see what people believe that makes them more likely to quit.

Myth #1: If I don’t meet my goal completely, I failed.

If you’re still focused on hitting your fitness and health goals for the year, chances are you fall into the category of a high-achieving person. While high-achievers tend to accomplish more, they often fall prey to a common thinking trap referred to as “All or nothing thinking.”

It’s the sneaky belief that anything less than 100 percent doesn’t count. It turns out requiring ourselves to be superhuman only sets ourselves up for the very thing we fear: failure.

What’s worse, we can be led to believe that not achieving a goal perfectly indicates something is wrong with us.

Instead of the black-and-white view of achievement as either “success” or “failure,” use the 80/20 rule to evaluate your effort. If you’re not meeting your goals consistently, it’s likely that there something wrong with your expectations, not you.

If you’re meeting your goals for fitness and nutrition 80 percent of the time, this becomes the new success standard, taking into account that while life happened and it prevented me from keeping my commitment 20 percent of the time, I am proving my commitment to myself with the 80 percent.

Myth #2: I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

It may seem like rest, sleep or taking a day off are signs of weakness, laziness or lack of commitment. But the intelligent use of rest is an essential element to meeting your health and fitness goals.

During sleep or on a recovery day, your muscles are doing anything but resting. In fact, your body uses this time to repair and build muscle. Without this critical component of your workout routine, you will not see the results you want by your deadlines, and worse, you may get injured or burned out and quit all together.

So instead of telling yourself, “Rest is doing nothing,” try reminding yourself, “Rest is allowing my body to do a different kind of work.”

Myth #3: If I look like I’m having fun, I’m not working hard enough.

Really? What isn’t fun about getting fit, feeling more energetic and confident, making visible progress and proving to ourselves that we are committed? Everything about that is fun.

It doesn’t mean there isn’t pain and sweat involved. In fact, it’s the pain and sweat that make your progress worth celebrating. Talking about how much agony you’re in or telling yourself you’re miserable doesn’t prove that you’re more committed. In fact, it might actually limit what you’ll accomplish.

When you hit a milestone on your fitness journey, stopping to celebrate by acknowledging your progress to yourself and others around you is a way to encourage yourself to keep going.

Sure, it’s all about the destination, but the only way there is the process. You might as well enjoy it.

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Resolutions that get Results: How to set great goals.

img_5401-1Here we are in week one of January and you may already be struggling to keep up with your resolutions. Maybe you have a goal but it’s vague and uninspiring and has already left you wondering how you will ever achieve the end results you desire. Not to worry, we are expert goal setters here at Lynx Fitness, LLC and we’re here to help you create the kind of resolutions that lead to success.

First things first: What exactly is it you want to accomplish? Good, attainable goals are specific. “I want to lose weight this year” is not a specific goal. You need the what, when, where, how and why to get you to victory.

What? Instead of “I want to lose weight”, try “I want to lose 15 pounds.” That is a specific goal that gives you something to measure. Every goal should be measurable. If you can’t measure it, you will not be able to determine whether you have succeeded. Moreover, you won’t be able to track your progress, and progress is the MVP when it comes to sticking with a goal.

When? This is a dual purpose question. First, when do you want to have achieved your goal? One year from today? Before your beach vacation this spring? Determine an end date for your goal. This will keep you pressing forward instead of aimlessly meandering toward a far-off desire that isn’t really a goal, but a wish.

Along with an end date, you will need to decide when you will actually work toward your goal. Try something like this:  “I want to lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at 7 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.” Now, you’re getting specific. You’ve got a goal with an end date and the days and times of when you will work toward that goal.

Where? Where will you be working toward your goal? Will you exercise at home, join a gym, or go jogging at the local track? These details will help you to be prepared as you move toward who you want to be. So, at this point, you’ll want your goal to look something like this: “I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.”

How? Now this is where people seem to get off track. How exactly are you going to do this? If your plan is to exercise, you have to know how you will exercise. Do you need to hire a trainer, find a few exercise DVDs, hire a babysitter to watch your kids while you work out, sign up for a gym membership, buy running shoes? You have to think through all of the details because any one of them could send you off course if you have not planned well. What if you go out for a run only to find that your 12-year-old sneakers hurt your feet because they’re worn out? Or maybe you get to the gym (which is half the battle) but you have no idea what to do once you are there. The anxiety or boredom you feel at that point may overshadow your desire to work toward your goal. Make sure you have decided exactly what you will do and take care of all the details beforehand, so you can be confident when you begin.

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, using the plan my trainer has put together for me. I have obtained a gym membership, purchased 12 weeks of personal training, and have appropriate apparel to wear while exercising.”

img_0160Why? This should actually be the first question you ask yourself. Why are you setting this goal? What will losing 15 pounds do for you? If it were easy to accomplish this, you would have done it already, which means you are going to need some powerful inspiration to keep you on track when things get uncomfortable. So what is it? Is your ‘why’ important to you?

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because I want to fit into the cute clothes in my closet.”

Go deeper.

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because…”

What is your why?

“I will lose 15 pounds by March 1st because I am borderline hypertensive and I don’t want my kids to become my caregivers because I haven’t taken care of myself. I will do so by exercising at Home Town Fitness Center at 7 a.m. each Monday Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, using the plan my trainer has put together for me. I have obtained a gym membership, purchased 12 weeks of personal training, and have appropriate apparel to wear while exercising.”

Now that is a good goal.

Make it specific. Make it measureable. Make it personal. This is YOUR resolution after all.

Attack your fitness. You are worth it. 

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A quick guide to gym etiquette – for the new and seasoned gym-goers alike

‘Tis the season of the busy gym! As a personal trainer, nothing makes me happier. I love to see all the new and the familiar faces smashing their goals AND I love to see you all doing it with plenty of respect for the many, many people around you. So, I’ve got some gym etiquette tips that will help all of us navigate our busier surroundings and have a great workout.

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Remember to wipe down all the equipment and benches you use after you’re done!

Wipe down the equipment. There’s nothing worse than laying down on a bench covered in someone else’s sweat or body oil. And nobody wants to catch a cold because the person before them didn’t wipe down their exercise mat before returning it. Make sure you know where the disinfecting spray bottles and wipes are in your gym and wipe down everything you use. It’s just the right thing to do!

Re-rack those weights. If you put it on the bar, take it off the bar. It’s so simple. Leaving weight on a bar sends the message that you are still using it and nobody likes spending 10 minutes playing that guessing game. Same goes for dumbbells, bosu balls, yoga mats, etc. Just pick up after yourself. Nobody should have to pick up after grown-ups at the gym.

One piece of equipment at a time. We all love a good circuit, but when the gym is busy, it’s rude to take up a bunch of equipment at once. You will have to give it up and be creative to get your workout in or go at slower time. Same goes for hogging one piece of equipment for 30 minutes when other people are waiting. It’s just not cool.

Save the perfumes and colognes for after your workout. When you’re sucking wind it’s suffocating to have a strong perfume or cologne waft into your nose. Equally difficult to work through is a fellow gym-goer’s bad body odor. Deodorant (or a shower if you need to) is a go, while perfumes, colognes, and body sprays are a no.

Respect other people’s personal space. If you can leave a treadmill between you and the next person, do so. When someone is lifting in front of the mirror, take note and don’t position yourself right in front of them. Just be aware of your surroundings.

No unsolicited advice please. Unless you are a certified personal trainer, you don’t have the credentials to give strangers advice. Leave it to the professionals, unless of course, someone asks for your help or you are seriously concerned that somebody is at imminent risk of injury. There’s no room for a big ego in a busy gym.

Decency in the locker room, ya’ll. Ladies, you all seem to have this on lock, but guys, we have heard too many nasty stories. Just try to remember that the locker room is a shared space and not your personal bathroom.

As you can see, it all just boils down to being aware of the people around you and showing some respect. Easy peasy. Now, go attack your fitness and start strong in 2017

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The basics of weight lifting

“I want to start lifting weights, but I have no idea where to start.”

I hear this all the time. Squats and bench press and those dumbbells look intimidating and nobody wants to embarrass themselves. I get it!

But, they are actually the simplest and most versatile things in the gym. You just need to know a few things to get started safely and successfully, so here are the basics for beginning weight lifting.

1. Balance the Bar – Anytime you use a barbell, you must balance the weight on both sides of the bar. If you put a 25-pound plate on one side, you need to put a 25-pound plate on the other side. That’s it. Pretty simple. You don’t want to try to lift a bar that’s unbalanced. That’s the stuff serious injuries and accidents are made of.

2. Use the Collars – To keep the weights secure on your barbell, you always want to use a collar on each side. This is especially important as a beginner because you may be a little wobbly until you get familiar with the lifts and develop the strength needed to move the weight in a steady and controlled fashion. Here is what collars look like:

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Credit: BeBodySmart.com

 

Notice the collar is snug against the plate. It is distracting when you’re weights are moving around on your bar and can be dangerous if they slide out too far, so push those collars all the way to the weight. Unfortunately, these things seem to be notorious for disappearing, so you may need to go looking on another piece of equipment for them, but do what you have to do to find a pair and use them!

3. Always lift equal weight when using dumbbells – So your left bicep is not as strong as your right. What to do? Some beginners make the mistake of using a lighter weight with their weaker arm, so they’ll curl a 20-pound dumbbell in one hand and a 15 in the other. Never do this. This will only keep your weaker side lagging behind. You really want to bring it up to speed, so lift the same weight with each arm. If your left arm can’t pull that 20 pound dumbbell, then go with a pair of 15s (or whatever weight you can lift) and let your arms gain strength together. Same goes for any other muscle group.

4. Always, always engage your core – Draw your navel into your spine, hold a slight arch in your back, slightly bend those knees and don’t let that stance go until you finish your set. An engaged core is your best tool for preventing injury and for ensuring good form and technique, meaning you won’t throw out your back by letting your body swing back and forth with every rep and the muscle you intend to exercise will actually do the work!

5. Ask for a spot when attempting a heavy lift – Beginners should always start light when starting a weight-lifting routine to get their form worked out, but if you’re ready to go for a heavy lift, ask for a spot. This simply means asking another gym-goer, or the friend you came with, to be available to support you during the lift. A spotter gives you just enough assistance to successfully finish the lift. For instance, if you are doing a dumbbell shoulder press, a spotter would stand behind you and when it appears you are unable to lift the dumbbells all the way through, the spotter would help push your wrists up just enough for you to be able to complete the rep. It’s an easy job and most any gym-goer will be willing to assist you.

Now that you know the basics of weight lifting, go ahead and get in there! You’ve got nothing to lose and all kinds of gains awaiting you!

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Take your hard work in the gym with you when you leave

Exercise is challenging, but not just physically. It will test your mental fortitude as well. Most of us fight the discomfort of physical and mental exercise, but I’d love to tell you how it has changed me for the better because I believe it can do the same for everyone.IMG_5408

Most of us know the basics about the mental benefits of exercise. It releases endorphins that make you feel great, it relieves stress, and it reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of those positive mental effects of exercise, but here are a couple more to add to that list.

Exercise can build good characer traits. You are building self-control when you choose to go to the gym as planned even though your friends just planned an impromptu happy hour, or when you choose the higher reps or the heavier dumbbell or the longer run when you know less, lighter, and shorter would be easier.

We do not want to be impulsive people who don’t have the ability to tell ourselves no, so let’s take every opportunity in the gym to improve our self-control.

The same goes for perseverance. We want to be people who can survive hard things without giving up. Exercise is meant to push you. You can absolutely expect to want to give up sometimes, but it’s what you do in those moments that tells you what kind of character you have.

These are good practicing grounds. If you can develop this in the gym, you can grow in maturity in your relationships, your workplace and your personal life. We all want to be honest, trustworthy people of integrity. All of those things can be developed in part through exercise.

I know my character is stronger now after pushing through some mentally tough moments at the gym, but my favorite mental benefit of exercise is definitely the increase in self-confidence.

It is so gratifying to know that even though you wanted to quit, you kept working and accomplished a goal. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced this.

Opportunities for success are abundant in exercise if you set good goals, and so these moments of choice between giving up and pushing through happen every day. It gives me so much confidence to know that I am not a quitter, and that my body and my mind are capable of incredible things, even when I think they can’t possibly go one more step.

I started exercising at my lowest point mentally and emotionally and it has been a huge tool in helping heal my self-efficacy. I am so grateful for that.

I challenge you to go into your workouts with not only physical goals of strength and endurance, but mental goals of confidence and strong character as well. And when you feel like quitting or taking the easiest road, remember that these are defining moments. We have this opportunity to work out our weaknesses and become the person we always wanted to be.

Let’s take it with gusto and let’s bring it out of the gym with us when we leave.