Can the reality of exercise ever live up to the idea of it

My latest theory is that everything is best when it is hypothetical, and I am currently testing that with my workout routine. If I were to get up early, hop into my gear, and fling myself out the door to run in the darkness of the early morning, it would be wonderful. I would feel awake, alive, and energized as I pounded along the silent, chilly streets. Or I could slip into the front row of a yoga class and feel my entire self waking up as I stretched all the way up from the tips on either end of my body. It would be an actual, full-body kind of zing, and every part of me would be alive. Or I would dive into the pool, and as I immerse myself completely, the buoyancy of the water, the strength of the waves pushing back against me would make me, in turn, feel buoyant and strong. I would lap my way back and forth until I burst from the pool after swimming miles, and the crowds would be cheering. (The next time you're diving in, try out this refreshing water workout!)

No matter what exercise I had performed, I'd find myself full of life and love and happiness and energy and strength and joy and a feeling that the entire world was on my side and nothing, not even spiders or missiles or ebola or dragons, could stop me because that is exactly how awesome I am!

That is in my head. In the world exists exhaustion, the snooze button, the icy coldness, the missing sports bra, the broken shoelace, the runner's high feeling more like the lowest point of your entire life, a too-crowded pool, falling over in the middle of plank pose, feeling more wiped out after than before, falling back asleep in the shower, running late, the fact that exercise, in general, whatever the long-term effects, is hard. Why do I keep getting out of bed, again? I am just a hopeless dreamer, chasing a dream?

Related: Exercise is tough for everyone, so here are thirty-five motivation ideas that will take you from "Who, me? Sweat?" to "I can't wait to work out!"

[photo credit: Getty Images]