It’s that time of year and love is in the air, as people turn to each other to celebrate all things love, hearts and lollipop emojis. And that’s all very well, but being the sporty story-teller that I am, I thought I would turn our attention to our love affair with sport. If you’re into fitness in a big way then you’ll understand where I am coming from with this little analogy. Think of sport as a relationship, as a marriage if that resonates better, and think of the commitment and dedication that goes into this journey – you can’t cheat and expect it to work. You have to put in the effort if you want to see long-lasting results – in either case, and that’s where the love part comes in.

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Love your sport
When it comes to fitness, you want a long-lasting love, otherwise it will be fleeting and short-lived, much like those January gym subscriptions, or weekend Tinder matches (you know who you are). Let’s be realistic; you may not wake up feeling butterflies of excitement every morning and sometimes it’s a struggle, but it’s important to keep a positive outlook – set goals to keep you motivated and to keep you happy (in love and in the gym that is).

The biology part
Just like love, there is both an emotional and a physical side to sport. Think of falling in love, and the release of all those natural chemicals and hormones that flood through your body, giving you that euphoric feeling. Well, an intense fitness session can have a very similar effect on the body, as endorphins and ‘happy hormones’ are released, giving you that natural high. We all know the feeling, it’s what keeps us coming back for more.

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The missing link
The body also reacts when you have to go without – you feel low when you miss workouts, lethargic, less energised; those happy hormones aren’t pumping through your body like they were after that spin session. Distance from a loved one can leave us feeling equally deflated, and though they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, in the case of fitness, distance from the gym does not make the heart (or body) grow any stronger. Just saying.

Don’t get stuck in a rut
Be sure to mix things up a little; every relationship needs a sprinkle of magic from time to time, and so does your workout routine. We all get bored of the same old thing on repeat – whether we’re talking sport, or work, or food, or love – so remember to keep things varied; try something new and jump out of your comfort zone every now and then. There are so many fitness trends to choose from, and gyms galore; there’s no excuse not to give something new a go. What have you got to lose anyway?

Be a team player
Like a relationship, fitness is a two-way street – you get out of it what you put in. You and your partner work as a team, creating a support system. The same sentiment goes for team sports, or having a fitness buddy; you commit to them and they commit to you, and you’re held accountable for your actions. Think of how fired up teams get on the pitch, how emotions run wild when your team scores that winning goal; sport is not just a physcial activity, it is very much an emotional investment, which is what makes it so appealing, and so rewarding when you see all the amazing benefits.

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Don’t worry, be happy
Remember to smile and don’t take things too seriously. Stories of love have their ups and downs, as do our fitness journeys – I know mine certainly does. Try to remain positive in the face of challenging workouts; learn to accept the injuries, to be patient with yourself, to adapt as your body changes over time, and to learn from your experiences – whether in love, or in sport.

(Original feature published in the February issue of Men’s Health Middle East magazine)

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