When I exercise during deployment, it is not for my husband. Everyone wants to look their best on Homecoming Day, and I’m over here saying, “It really doesn’t matter what I do (or don’t do). After a deployment lasting half a year, we are going to look damn good to each other, no matter what!”
Every military spouse wants to look their best for their spouse’s Homecoming. For many, that means losing weight or getting toned, or generally being in better shape. So everyone sets goals to exercise during deployment. That’s why there are T-shirts and Facebook groups that proudly proclaim, “I’m sweating for his Homecoming.”
Nope, not me. I DO exercise during deployment, but it is NOT for Homecoming. I don’t really care about Homecoming. It’s just one day. Do I want to look good? Sure! But since my spouse has been deployed for half a year, I’m pretty sure I would be attractive to him no matter what. Seriously. So if my inspiration to eat healthy and work out throughout the deployment is focused on that one day, then there is no way I will stay motivated. Like any over-ambitious goal, it will start out strong, then slowly fizzle out.
That’s why I don’t work out for him. Or for Homecoming day. I work out for me.
“I don’t work out just for Homecoming day. I work out for me.” ~The Seasoned Spouse
I exercise during deployment because of the continuous rewards I get from working out. Not just weight loss and a number on a scale. Instead, I keep returning to the gym because I can feel that it makes me stronger, more confident, more balanced. That strength carries into other parts of my life, making me a better mom, more confident woman, and more balanced friend. Sweating doesn’t just burn calories, it makes me a better person. Deployment is like a marathon. I am sweating for deployment survival.Sweating doesn't just burn calories, it makes me a better person. Click To Tweet
Why you should exercise during deployment
If you are still struggling to find the right reasons to exercise during deployment, or you are feeling disappointed by your fitness achievements, then take a look at all these instant benefits you get whenever you exercise:
1. More energy for the rest of the day. I know, when you are tired, it feels like a workout will suck away your remaining strength. But somehow, it actually energizes you to power through your other chores and responsibilities!
2. Improved mood. Exercising releases endorphins that make you happy. (the same chemicals your brain releases during sex and eating chocolate!) So no matter what is happening in your life, a workout can help to improve your attitude and get you through it.
3. Reduced stress. There is more than enough stress to go around during deployment! Sometimes my kids can get me really frustrated and worked up. I have learned that a healthy way to lower blood pressure and get out some aggression is to go for a run. During deployment, that usually means taking them with me, unless someone watches them. But one hour at the gym can really lower my stress levels and help me deal with them more calmly.
4. Stronger. You know all those things you have to do on your own during deployment? Like moving furniture, repairing the house, mowing the lawn, changing car tires, etc. Well, each of those things will be easier if you have muscles. And the best way to get muscles? Work out with weights. Challenge yourself to use a little heavier set of weights in your 2nd set. Or upgrade after you become comfortable with your current set.
5. More confidence. Even if I haven’t lost much weight or dropped a clothing size, I can tell when my clothes are fitting better. It’s exciting to actually look and feel good! I’m no model, and never will be, but being happy in my own skin is an important life skill. This is especially important during deployment, when there is no one around to compliment me or make me feel sexy. I have to create that confidence in myself.
6. Measurable improvements. Spending one hour at the gym won’t magically give me a flat stomach. But even 1 week of working out regularly can produce a noticeable difference in my muscle tone or waistline. Sometimes the numbers on the scale are slow to change, since that fat is turning into muscle. So I use a measuring tape and track my measurements. Losing a half inch anywhere can be really exciting and keep me motivated to stay on track.
7. Life feels more balanced. My fitness goals are just one part of my life. I don’t go to the gym every day, but I do try to make exercise a regular part of my routine. There are other parts of my routine, too: reading and writing feeds my intellectual side, making plans with friends feeds my social side, studying the Bible feeds my spiritual side. Keeping physically fit is the 4th side of that box. Life is like a chair with four legs: if you don’t do something to feel fulfilled intellectually, socially, spiritually, and physically, then your life can start to feel unbalanced and stressful.
8. More conscious of food. Sometimes when I work out more, I make the mistake of using it as justification for eating more. But most of the time, right after I work out, I don’t feel like eating a fatty meal. My body actually craves protein and veggies then. That makes it easier to eat healthier throughout the day. Either way, I know that the food fuels the workout, so the more I exercise the more I become aware of what food and how much I am putting in my body. So I start planning my meals ahead of time and preparing my breakfast in advance.
So that is what works for me. What are your motivations for working out? Do you set fitness goals for deployment and Homecoming?