Whoosh. Browsing around Pinterest, I just saw a racerback tee with a little raccoon critter doing a bicep curl with a barbell. Who isn’t a sucker for cute animal pics? Oh my gosh, add a health theme to the mix? I’m dead. So trust me when I say, something’s got to be wrong for me to tell you that not only do I not like that shirt, but it boils my blood a little. (Simmers my blood?) I’ll get to the point – the accompanying quote on the tee was “I work out so I can eat garbage.” Admittedly, now that I’m writing this out, it seems a little ridiculous, so I’ll calm down. You know what? If that little racoon gets into weight lifting for the same reason that women spend an average of 17 years of their life torturing themselves with dieting, at least it’ll get more out of that situation than it bargained for. The opposite can be said about diets. Here’s what that critter can look forward to, besides burning his garbage calories if he keeps his healthy habit:
Boost brainpower. Over time, resistance training changes the physical structure of your brain improving your cognitive abilities. Work harder and smarter?
Endorphins. You’ve heard about these, and they feel great. Short term win!
Improve sleep. Life’s better when you’re not walking around as a quasi-zombie, ain’t it?
Become a lean, mean, fat burning machine. I wrote a post with all the juicy deets about this here.
Increase bone density. Become the opposite of frail! It feels great and is great for your health.
Manage chronic disease with more ease! A strength-training program is shown to be as effective as medication in treating conditions such as arthritis and depression. It also helps regulate blood sugar, which is important for preventing/managing diabetes.
Decrease inflammation. Short-term you do get a bit of inflammation post-workout in the muscles that got their flex on, but for reasons still not well-understood, weight lifting decreases systemic inflammation. Many respected doctors believe the key to health and vitality is lowering inflammation.
Happify your heart. Weight lifting 2x weekly is recommended in the prevention of heart disease. Even when you’re not clocking in a traditional “cardio” workout, you’re getting the cardiovascular benefits.
Prevent injury and develop more badassery. Through lifting weights, you’ll improve your proprioception (awareness of your body in space), enhance your coordination and balance, and hello, become stronger. You’ll move through your days with ease, prevent falls, and have more oompf to bring it to your next sweat sesh compounding your results.
You’ll develop so much confidence that goes beyond looking better in your favorite jeans. Crushing hard goals in the gym the way we so often can avoid in life expands your idea of yourself.
Deal with depression. I kinda mentioned this one before, but it’s worth repeating and belonged in the “soul” category in my opinion. Working out regularly, even just with cardio-focus, is more effective in treating/managing depression than medication and without their nasty side effects. I used to take anti-depressants and sure, they helped me not be depressed, but they took away my ability to feel much of anything. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take medication when you need it – it can help you to get out of the thick of it when depression keeps you from doing all the things it takes to manage it or when it’s too much to bear. Working out is a vital portion for taking care of my mental health.
There you have it. Go ahead and workout for a trimmer tummy or if it’s the only way you can eat pizza guilt-free. Just know you’re doing something tremendous for yourself each time you get your flex on. You may need to turn to this list to keep you going though, because doing something for self love is a stronger motivation for long-term success than self-loathing.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. To be clear, I don’t really know how activity affects racoons exactly. This list is for the humans reading it.
P.P.S. To keep track of your progress in a way that keeps you motivated, I created a weigh more than weight wellness tracker which you can grab here.
P.P.P.S. Apparently raccoon and racoon are both acceptable spellings of rac(c)oon! Fun fact!