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Let Joy Lead

I remember the first time I decided to go for a run. I remember being scared… I lived in the same town almost my whole life, but I felt lost when trying to plan a route in my head. I remember in gym class we would have to run the mile every year. Everyone else would groan, but I’d get excited. I remember the first time I ran a 5k, and how happy I was to cross the finish line. I remember my first injury, and doing everything I could to get moving again. I remember training for my first marathon. I have never stuck so closely to a routine or felt so proud of my abilities.

I love the cadence of my breathing when I find my stride. I love the rush of warmth to my joints after my first mile. I love how the same roads I drive every day come alive with adventure when I’m on my feet. I love the rush of excitement that overpowers fatigue when I see the finish line.

I find such joy in running. But I understand that this isn’t true for everyone. In fact, most people who learn I’m a runner say to me, “I only run when something is chasing me…” hardy-har-har!

I’m not here to convince anyone to become a runner. Though, if you’ve never given it a shot, I strongly encourage it! What I am here to discuss is joy. What brings you joy?

This is something I often talk about with my fitness clients. So many of them have this false image of charging at top-speed on the elliptical for hours just to get in shape. But fitness is so much more than that! It’s a lifestyle. And if you aren’t enjoying the things you are doing to keep your body in motion, chances are you’re going to give it up before you’ve even reached your goals.

So again I ask, what brings you joy?

Maybe you’d like going for a brisk walk with your best friend? A bike ride? A hike? Or maybe you would enjoy something more competitive like a sport? What about lifting weights? Joining a class? Or dancing to some great music?

There are so many ways to get your body up and moving. And new ideas are being created every day. Maybe you’ll even invent something all your own, it’s definitely worth a try! I could spend the next paragraph telling you which types of exercises are more beneficial to your muscles, or to losing weight, and there will be a time and a place for that, but when you are just getting started, the key is to create a routine. It’s much easier to create and stick to a routine when you enjoy doing it!

I also want to challenge you to carry this idea over into other areas of your life. After all, health is about more than just fitness and nutrition, isn’t it? Take a look at your hobbies, your friends, your job… are they bringing you joy?

Just to be clear here, I do think there is a difference between joy and happiness. We are not going to be happy all the time, that’s just life. But happiness is such a surface-level emotion. It’s fleeting. Usually evoking smiles, laughter, and general ease. Joy goes a little bit deeper. Joy is that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know something is good, right, and lasting. It’s a sense of contentment even when you have to push through difficulty, because you know something is worth it.

At least, that’s my definition for the sake of this post.

Are there things you are involved in right now that bring you down? Things that aren’t worth persevering through? The truth is, we are rarely “stuck.” We are responsible for our choices and the consequences, good or bad, that come with them. So why not make them add value to our lives instead of take it away? Why not make them things we look forward to, not dread?

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” - unknown

Just something to chew on as we begin the new adventure of 2017. What kind of year will you have? Let joy lead you to it.

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