Recently I saw an incredible story of gold medal sprinter, Jasmine Blocker.
Apparently in middle school she tried out for volleyball but was too uncoordinated and was immediately cut from the team. So she joined track instead.
Track was a better fit but she still wasn’t great to begin with. But where she excelled was her grit and work ethic. She was always searching for more ways to push the envelope and get better.
“I was always the person asking for more workouts and saying, ‘What more can I do?’- Jasmine Blocker
(this led to eventually picking up strength training and Olympic lifting, which made a huge difference in her running times)
Throughout her journey (even before she stood out performance-wise), she mostly focused on bettering her best. And she would find a way to train even when her studies got in the way.
For example, in college she told her coaches she couldn’t make it to practice because she was working on her theses. So she’d make up for it by doing a harder morning workout alone instead.
All these workouts and focus on constantly improving eventually accumulated to becoming an All-American in indoor and outdoor track… turning pro and then winning a gold medal in the 4x400 relays.
Today she’s ‘passing the torch’ of her experience by helping others on their journey in fitness and mental health. In fact, she shared an interesting quote on the intersection of these two:
“It [exercise] allows you to focus in on one thing so that you’re completely and totally present.”- Jasmine Blocker
While there are a ton of lessons packed into Jasmine’s journey, this quote shares a powerful benefit that doesn’t get talked about enough.
When you are working out whether its pumping iron… bodyweight exercises… or doing a HIIT circuit — your focus is largely on the workout (unless you are goofing off or taking selfies). You are focused on doing the exercises properly… hitting the reps… or completing the set.
When your focus is engulfed in these details… other worries and concerns somewhat fade into the background.
In fact, you tend to get ‘psychological distance’ from them. And in some cases when you get back to them (if you even want to) they don’t look nearly as daunting or as stressful as before. You have a fresh perspective and sometimes even new insight on the situations.
In college, that was one of the biggest motivators for me to keep working out — even after I stopped playing football. In fact, the gym was somewhat of a ‘sanctuary’ for me. By being totally present with the lifts and exercises I was doing that day (instead of ruminating on my studies and stresses of the day) I was able to go back to my classes and relationships more grounded and recharged.
(And if I slacked on getting in my workouts, I noticed I didn’t bring my best to those areas)
Anyway, this is a hidden benefit of exercise that you’ll have to test yourself. And certain types of workouts work better for this than others. But I’m confident that taking 60 minutes (3–4x per week) could offer you huge returns in mental clarity and dropping stress levels.
It’s yet another positive ‘side effect’ exercise can bring to your life.
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