why I work out

Meow.

Things are a-changin’ over here (again) and I’m hoping that means I’ll have more time for regular blogging. Halle-freakin-lujah. It’s kind of crazy how much I miss it. This blog is like my virtual diary that I awkwardly share with the public and, without it, I find myself craving the creative outlet.

Onward and upward…

Today I want to discuss exercise– ps: I promise I have non-health related posts coming soon.

In our society, exercise is often looked at as a “punishment”. We drag ourselves to the gym to “burn calories” and achieve the perfect “bikini body”. As cliche as that sounds, it’s the reality. Working out is often taken to an extreme that leads to one of two things; addiction or hatred.

I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Growing up, I hated working out. I did dance and cheerleading (briefly) and that was the extent of my exercise. In college, I discovered how much of a stress-reliever it could be and a few gym-visits per week turned into 2-hour sweat sessions every day. I would log my hours, write down every workout and keep track of the calories I burned to ensure that each workout was better than the last. Days off were nonexistent and merely sitting for a long period of time left me uncomfortable and antsy. Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Around the time that I stopped obsessing over the foods I ate, I also cut back on exercise. I finally discovered my own personal balance between healthy-living and having a life.

1-byb

March 2014 —> August 2014

These days, I aim to make it to the gym 4-5 days a week and focus on strength-training rather than cardio. Do I necessarily think one is better than the other? No. But right now, I love lifting. It gives me a sense of power that I’ve never experienced before and I genuinely enjoy working out.

If I’m feeling overly tired and fatigued, I rest. If I have a ton of extra energy, I push myself to the limits. If I feel like lifting weights all week with zero cardio, I lift. If I decide I want to hike in lieu of a trip to the gym, I lace up my sneakers and get out there. I do whatever feels good. Exercise should feel good.

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No matter where you are in your fitness journey, I encourage you to take a step back and think about why you work out. Is it for a physical result? Or for life-long health and happiness? If it isn’t for the latter, it’s time for a change. Take a break, try something new, stop keeping track of the calories you burn…do whatever you have to do to rediscover the joy of exercise. I promise, it’s worth it.

Here’s to loving your body (and slightly bigger juicier booty)…

-Emily

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram // @missemmmysue
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25 comments
  1. A-freaking-men. This is exactly the type of approach to exercise that I am going for. Nearly there! 🙂

    • Emily said:

      You’ve made SO much progress. I know it’s not easy. Super proud of you.

      xo

  2. I love your outlook and completely agree. Working out should be FUN and not punishment!! 🙂 It’s so important to listen to your body!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you! I completely agree. 🙂

  3. I totally agree with this. I didn’t use this approach when I first began to lose weight a few years ago but it has been my approach for the last year or so.

    I admit to being a cardio junkie and I noticed how I wasn’t doing myself any favors after staying a stagnant place in my appearance for a good 5-6 months. I was lifting a bit but not enough to see any progress. I’m hoping that, after the baby comes, I can get into a better habit of focusing on weight lifting as opposed to so much cardio.

    • Emily said:

      I was definitely a cardio junky for a loooong time too. I totally understand that– it’s easy to get addicted to it! But weight training has seriously changed my life.

      I’ll be interested to hear how you like it after baby comes! PS: SO excited for you. 🙂

  4. Taylor said:

    I have definitely been in a gym fluctuation for my life. Playing sports constantly, obsessively running, weight training, cycling and now I really embrace the randomness. Like you said taking a step back and reevaluating where you are is necessary to enjoying working out rather than making it a chore.

    PS. Can’t wait for future posts, I definitely miss reading your blog! 🙂

    • Emily said:

      We’re always so much alike. When we met at Urth and talked about exercise, it was like I was listening to myself. haha.

      I’m so excited to be able to post more as well! Thanks for all of the love. ❤

  5. carrie said:

    love this! i think it’s so important to look at exercise as enjoyable instead of a punishment for indulging. you have such a good outlook and i think you look healthy and STRONG now. get it girl! 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Ah, thank you thank you thank you. 🙂

  6. Irina said:

    Girl you look phenomenal! I love that you’re truly living what you preach here in this post to us and I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. We’re all different and we need to find what “exercise” works best for us – i.e. something that we truly enjoy and do because it makes us happy and not because it’s a way to slash calories. I’m so happy to see you found your groove! Your happiness shows 🙂

    I’ve come to terms with the fact (yes, fact) that I will never ever enjoy working out. This sucks I know, but I just don’t enjoy it and find that it stresses out my body in ways I don’t experience otherwise. With that said, I truly love running and never view it as exercise. It sounds cliche but it’s true…I enjoy it as a hobby. I know that the moment I start viewing running as exercise and a means to maintain my weight, I’ll end up hating it. I’m hoping that day never comes!

    • Emily said:

      Reading about your passion for running is so inspiring. Seriously. You’re one of the few people I’ve ever known that seems to do it purely for the joy of it…PLUS you listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. So, so important.

      Thanks for all of the love! It seems like you’ve really found your groove over there too.

      Oooh…and my job maaay require a trip to NYC at some point in the near-ish future. Just sayin’. 🙂

  7. Floey said:

    I think it’s comforting and sad (of course) how many women I hear go through the cycle of over-exercising, counting calories, etc that you mentioned. I know I sure did! The important thing is that we get to the stage you are at now where you have lived through both ends of the spectrum and know that its important to find a balance between the two. So proud of you! 🙂 ❤

    • Emily said:

      It’s so easy to fall into that trap and that’s the scary thing. I see it happen constantly and, like you, I definitely found myself there too.

      But like you said, it’s all about getting past it and finding a balance and freedom. So happy that you’ve discovered it too! ❤

  8. Such a great view, life is all about balance. It truly shows, there’s a glow about you in your present photo that screams happiness. Keep the positive vibes coming, I always enjoy the inspiration I get from reading your blog 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Aw, thank you so much. This comment literally made my day…and week.

      You don’t blog, right? I always check but never seem to find anything. I just want to make sure I’m not missing it!

      xo

      • I do have a blog technically, but I can’t ever seem to think of things to write about. It starts out with good intentions and then I fall off the wagon because I feel like my material is so pointless and dry. Maybe someday when I find my inner voice I’ll be able to start something up! Thanks for checking though, makes me feel good to know I’d have at least one reader 🙂

  9. P said:

    Great post! My perspective on exercising has definitely changed over the years. I feel like the best workouts for me are the ones that I end up doing after a long day when I don’t think I have the energy for it, but then I realize it’s all mental. But I love my solid rest days too 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Girl, me tooooo.
      I swear, the days where I’m dreading the gym the most are always my best workouts. But I’m all about rest days too. I think it’s about knowing when your body physically needs to rest and when it’s just your brain being lazy. haha

      🙂

  10. Katy said:

    Great post! I reflect a lot why I workout as well and it’s because I truly loveeee it. I don’t diet and I don’t need to lose weight, but fitness is my escape. When I hop on my bike, the world disappears around me and I feel absolutely carefree and relaxed. I do feel guilty in the summer though because I spend the majority of my time on my bike (cardio queen)… but I guess I have all winter to lift. Do you what you love and makes you happy = the most important thing in life.

    • Emily said:

      “Do you what you love and makes you happy = the most important thing in life”

      Yes, yes, yes. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  11. Kelsey said:

    Amazing words. And exactly where I am with my workout routine. I do it when it feels right, and if I need rest…I rest. I used to be crazy about being in the gym, and tracking what I ate/did + obsessed about the weight on the scale. I’m so glad those days are behind me. And as for the punishment, it’s GONE for me, and I love that. The thought of going to the gym now makes me oh so happy. =)

    • Emily said:

      Me too! And it’s so amazing.

      I’m so, so happy to hear that you’ve discovered that sense of freedom too. It really does change exercise– the way we view it and the way it feels. It’s suddenly not a chore anymore and our bodies (and minds!) can finally enjoy it.

      xo

      • Kelsey said:

        Most definitely! And once it happens, it definitely starts to change other areas of life. Life. Is. Beautiful.

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