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Why I Work Out — And Would Never Take a Magic Pill

Karen posed this question

What would your life be like if some kind of pill existed that kept you fit? 

No such thing exists — even though advertisers would like you to believe so. But if it did, how would your life be different? What would you have missed out on or what lessons would you have failed to learn? 

Would you still be driven to work out? Eat healthy? 

I’ll tell you what my life would be like: vapid.

The thing I hate about “magic pills,” whether real or hypothetical, is that they discount one very important element of fitness, and that’s the process.

I don’t run to hit a number on the scale. I don’t do Ironman triathlon for muscles or physique or fitting into my skinny jeans. I certainly don’t do any of this for a medal, a T-shirt or even bragging rights.


I do it for the process. Any kind of endeavor that requires sustained, dedicated training teaches an athlete a lot about herself — good and bad. I learn about the limitations of my body with every training session, and I am shocked to discover most of those limitations are actually in my mind. In training, I’m forced to face truth — some days, that I’m not as tough as I pretend to be; others, that I’m more bad-ass than I’d ever give myself credit for. Those lessons learned in a pair of running shoes translate to every facet of my life — even the ones that don’t involve running and triathlon. Especially the ones that don’t involve running and triathlon.

When I move, my self-awareness needle moves. I don’t always like where it points, but it’s there, and I can’t ignore it.

For me, training is about the journey, not the destination. The superficial results of working out — weight-loss, better health — pale in comparison to the things you can’t see. I’m a happier, healthier, more confident person because I chose to invest in myself and the process.

Despite what any advertisement says, there’s no magic pill for that.

What lessons have you learned during your process to a healthier you? —Susan

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