Put in the effort to reap the rewards

In life we so often have to do the hard stuff to get the rewards. It might be in a relationship that we have to have the tricky conversation to get out of the stalemate or face up to what’s going on. Or we might have to go cold-turkey on sugar to get out of a cycle of cravings. Or we might have to attend a pilates class and try really hard to help a weak back. This pattern occurs in almost every aspect of our lives. 

I was chatting to the Dance teacher at my son’s school the other day and commented on an amazing student they have who is a total joy to watch dancing. He is incredibly flexible & strong and hence can move his body in so many ways that just appear effortless to the audience. I was surprised when the teacher told me that student had been really inflexible and the teacher had just kept banging on about the importance of stretching and conditioning. Dull stuff that nobody wants to do but the student got the message and worked and worked and worked. And now the rewards are now so obvious to see. 

I was reminded of it just now as I’d been out for a run with my running group in cold, miserable rain & wind. Now I do not like running. That action of forcing my body out of a walk, plodding along, getting out of breath, sweaty and hot (or like today with parts of me boiling beneath my cagoule and other parts freezing!). There really is pretty much nothing I enjoy about the act itself of running – I’d always prefer a walk in the moment. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, what I do love is everything else that running gives me. 

I got home, soaked and cold in places, covered in mud. But I’d had a lovely chat on the way round. And already as I arrived home the post-exercise endorphins were kicking in. I came in and the warmth of the house was comforting and cosy. I had to peel off the sodden, muddy clothes while the shower heated up. Stepping into that shower was blissful. Then coming out and putting on my favourite cosy jumper & tucking into a bowl of hot porridge, a cup of tea and some decadent rich dark chocolate. In short I felt great.

I don’t run because of a love of running but that post-run feeling is wonderful. You can run out your frustrations or have a laugh on the way round. You can have supportive and helpful chats. Or you can run on your own for headspace, free from the temptations of gadgets or to do lists. You can run in Nature and listen to the birds. In doing so you improve your mental & physical health, strengthen your immune system, minimise your chances of getting ill, help with weight control and the way your body deals with the menopause, help prevent osteoporosis etc etc. You get a sense of achievement and can set goals, whether it’s distance or times or frequency. Goals that are realistic or stretching, you decide. It’s not like a ‘work objective’ that is too often imposed and out of your control. These are YOUR goals to aim for. I also love that I am walking my talk on the importance of exercise for my kids. And I wouldn’t get any of these wonderful benefits without doing the hard bit – putting on the trainers and going out in all weathers and getting uncomfortable, sweaty and out of breath. 

Whatever you want to achieve in life there’s often some hard graft that needs to happen. Wonderful marriages don’t just fall out of the sky – they take attention and effort. Fit, strong, healthy bodies are not just bestowed on some people through luck. Fulfilling work or having a seemingly dream life has often taken a lot of courage or commitment. If you always opt for the easy route in the moment, you may be missing out on so many of life’s rewards and joys. Where might you be called to put more effort in? I’d love to hear in the comments or by message. Please like/share. Sue x

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