If you’re anything like me, you were not the kid in the tour group who thought, “Oh boy!” when the campus guide walked you through the lobby of the Dow Center at Hope College. The building itself is not an architectural wonder, and its amenities appeal mostly to fitness buffs and people who like to post mirror selfies to Instagram. While I harbor no ill will toward any who fall into either of the aforementioned categories, I am simply not one of you. This is a reality that previously left me feeling as though going to the Dow would have little value for me personally. That being said, I very recently became the lifestyle editor of this fine newspaper and did not feel as though I could give meaningful advice on health and wellness if I were not making a concerted effort to be healthy and well.
While being able to write personally relatable articles about fitness was definitely a motivator, another form of workout inspiration was my watch. If you wear a FitBit, Apple Watch, or some other fitness-tracking accessory, you likely know how demoralizing it is for a tiny gadget to address you by your first name and gently inform you that you did not reach your “move goal” for the day. Beyond personal motivators, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitborne of Psychology Today outlines 19 practical reasons to exercise, such as the fact that working out strengthens your immune system and makes you more resistant to illnesses. Additionally, it gives you an energy boost. Those of you who are at risk of falling asleep during your mid-afternoon lectures might benefit from heading to the Dow before class. Other great benefits include an improved mood, better sleep and lower anxiety.
Can’t think of that word that’s just on the tip of your tongue? Go for a run! Studies show that regular exercise can help improve memory, along with a whole host of other emotional and health benefits. Last Wednesday, bearing all of this in mind, I pulled on my most sporty-looking leggings, a t-shirt, then began searching high and low for a pair of running shoes. These shoes should not have been that hard to find, but the fact of the matter is that I almost left them at home, in Pittsburgh, convinced that I would not wear them once over the course of the semester. Eventually, I emerged from my closet, triumphant, holding a pair of Brooks that still had dirt in them from my immersion trip in March 2018. Determined to lead a more healthy and productive lifestyle, I made the short trek from Wyckoff to the Dow, shivering all the way, convinced that a hoodie was an appropriate choice on a day when the highest temperature was twenty-some degrees. Big mistake.
Once I got to the Dow, I went for a short run, then spent the rest of my time biking ten miles on the stationary bike, which was at worst, tolerable, and at best, fun. At the end of the day, the biggest and most exciting takeaway was feeling as though I had in some way earned my hot shower and a long and restful night under crisp, clean sheets. If you think you would like to start working out but feel like there’s no chance you’ll follow through, fear not! The key to sticking to your goals, a topic that Sophia touched on last week, is setting goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. To put this into perspective, you should start by focusing on a clear objective that can be kept track of by numeric value. Not only that, but this goal should be something that you think will be both personally beneficial and within reason.
Finally, you should set goals that fall into some time frame. Your goals might look very different than mine, but it is my hope that you are left feeling refreshed, empowered and sure of yourself. It’s hard to argue with feeling that good.