A cellphone with headphones are shown placed next to a pair of black-and-pink tennis shoes.
Lace up those shoes and get started on your exercise revolution. It will change your life more than you might think. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Is your best “you” buried under unrealistic expectations, out of control stress and pure exhaustion?

You’re not alone. According to recent research, far too many of us are letting stress control our lives and increase the size of our waistlines.

When people become stressed, the hormone cortisol really gets to work, making weight control more difficult and it can be a snowball effect on your health.

One way to stop, or at least mitigate, cortisol’s dastardly effects is to exercise. Exercise can decrease the levels of cortisol circulating in the blood stream, plus it has the added benefit of giving you a positive boost of feel-good endorphins.

Regular exercise could certainly be a great connector to your best self. It helps us think more clearly, reduces stress and puts you in a better frame of mind.

Let’s take a poll. When was the last time you said:

  • “I am confident.”
  • “I am strong.”
  • “I am taking charge of my health.”
  • “I feel happy and healthy.”
  • “I have my stress level in check.”
  • “I feel in control of my life.”
  • “I am the best me.”

Has it been a while?

Now, let me ask you this: When was the last time you said “I get to exercise” (and meant it)?

Get to exercise, really? Does anyone honestly feel that way?

Yup, it’s true. I would say that most everyone who has managed to sustain an active lifestyle says that every time they work out. They have truly found something they enjoy about moving.

Maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie, the endorphin boost, or the results that keep them going. Or maybe, underneath the sweat, they have discovered better versions of themselves.

When we tell ourselves (and anyone else listening) that “I have to exercise” it sounds like one more chore on the never-ending to-do list.

So what if we thought of exercise as something special like getting a pedicure, going shopping, or taking a weekend getaway? All of a sudden it sounds like a gift and it becomes something we look forward to each day. You even might find yourself saying “I get to exercise.”

The time to start is now. Arrange a walk with a friend, join a group exercise class, or find a good workout on YouTube. These are all manageable starting points.

There is no need to take on a hard core workout at the get-go. Even 10 minutes several times a day can make a difference. The more you exercise, the more you will feel confident, stronger, less stressed and happier.

Your best “you” might even start to surface.

Can’t wait to get started? Great, but don’t forget your new mantra “I get to exercise!”

Now get on those shoes and get going! What are you waiting for?