It drives me absolutely crazy when people tell me that if they weren’t worried about gaining weight, they would never work out again.
Sure, there’s no harm in admitting that part of the reason you work out is to look good. We all want to feel confident about how we look, and feeling good about your appearance undoubtedly helps you feel better and more confident about yourself in general.
Yet working out and eating healthy just for the sake of your appearance is never going to be very motivating, and should never be the main (or at least the only) reason you take care of your body. There are so many better reasons to keep yourself fit and healthy—reasons that will keep you motivated to keep exercising long after beach season ends.
Here are 7 ways working out makes you more awesome (aside from making you look good):
1. It Makes You More Functional
Before I started doing HIIT on a regular basis, I very clearly remember getting nervous as I got on an airplane with my heavy carryon bag because I didn’t think I’d be able to lift it above my head into the overhead storage area. Most of the time I had to rely on some other passenger’s help—I was just too weak to do it myself (and I hate asking for help).
These days, I have no problem hoisting my suitcase over my head. Nor do I get out of breath when I have to walk up a huge flight of stairs because the escalator is broken. And if I need to carry tons of groceries long distances, that’s fine too.
Because that’s what pushing yourself through all those hard workouts does: it helps you function better in real life situations. That’s why we do so many burpees—because as the epitome of functional fitness, they help you get up off of the floor when you need to.
Working hard to build a functional body through fitness means that you’ll have a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life situations.
2. It Pushes You Beyond Your Personal Limits
There’s no doubt about it: pushing yourself through workouts like the ones we do on 12 Minute Athlete is hard.
Doing plyometric exercises like squat jumps and tuck jumps for the first time since high school basketball practice is exhausting, to say the least. Trying to get your first handstand is a frustrating and humbling experience. And trying to do 100 burpees in a row for time is so intimidating, most people won’t even give it their best shot for fear of complete failure.
But while it may seem like near torture during the workout itself (especially if you’re just starting out), the rewards you reap afterwards are indescribably awesome.
That moment you get your very first pull up, pistol, or crush your previous 100 burpee challenge time and realize you just accomplished something you previously thought was actually impossible—that moment just opened your future up to whole new world of possibilities. All of a sudden, you’ll wonder what other awesome things you can do that you never thought possible—whether they’re fitness-related, adventure or lifestyle goals, or career aspirations.
Stretching your personal limits through fitness translates to the rest of your life as well, helping you unlock your true full potential in all parts of your life.
3. It Makes Trying New Sports and Activities Much More Enjoyable
Back in the days when I could barely do a single push up, I used to dread trying any new sport or activity because I was just so frustrated at my lack of athletic ability and I knew I would be terrible at it.
It just wasn’t much fun to try anything new when I knew I was fairly weak, out of shape, and as uncoordinated as all get out.
Yet when I started getting stronger through my workouts, trying new activities became a lot more fun. All of a sudden I became confident that I wouldn’t pass out after two minutes because I was actually in decent shape, and even if I didn’t have the skills for the sport down quite yet, I knew that a lack of strength or conditioning wasn’t my issue.
Because when you kick ass doing super tough HIIT workouts on a regular basis, taking up a new sport is no longer such an intimidating experience, and becomes just plain fun.
4. It Makes You Stronger And Gives You More Energy
Getting stronger might seem an obvious result from working out, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Because when you crush your workouts on a regular basis, you get stronger than you ever thought possible, and that will undoubtedly translate to other areas of your life as well.
And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t wanted more energy to get more accomplished during the day, have more fun, and go after their dreams on a regular basis. Working out consistently and fueling your body right will send your energy through the roof so that you’ll be able to accomplish all the awesome things you want to do.
5. It Increases Your Confidence
There’s no question about it: feeling like you’re constantly improving and crushing your workouts helps you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to.
Just a few years ago, I rarely exercised and could barely do a single push up, let alone more difficult exercises like pull ups and one legged squats. I felt weak, lost, and hopeless in so many areas of my life. Today, I can bust out pull ups, do handstands, and complete 100 burpees in nearly 6 minutes flat—and I’ve never felt more empowered.
Because the truth is that getting stronger and making improvements in your fitness will more likely than not translate to other areas of your life as well, including your career, your relationships, and your overall self-confidence.
6. It Keeps You Healthy For Life
Although it may not be your main concern right now, making the investment in yourself and keeping yourself fit now helps to keep your body healthy and fit as you get older, so you can still do all of your favorite hobbies activities and keep up with your grandchildren long into old age.
As a bonus, building muscle helps with your long-term metabolism, as well—although metabolism naturally declines with age, this is mainly due to lifestyle factors and muscle loss, and can be counteracted with consistent exercise and resistance training.
So make it a goal to build more muscle and get stronger now, and keep your metabolism running high for life!
7. It Helps You Stay Looking (And Feeling) Young
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that one of the biggest indicators of how young a person looks and comes across as is not a person’s actual age, but how they take care of themselves.
This of course has a lot to do with staying active by working out consistently and eating healthy, nutrient-packed foods on a regular basis. But it also has a lot to do with learning and staying curious about life. Continuing to take up new skills, whether it’s a new sport like gymnastics or kiteboarding, learning a new language, or taking an art class—it all counts.
The key is to consciously take care of both your body and mind—and never, ever give in to the thought that it’s “too late” to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis
Stay awesome, athletes.