I’ve made a decision. And this is it. I have to be physically active. It’s not optional. So daily exercise WILL be a part of my life.
However I have recently made a second decision–and it’s this—
I am no longer willing to inflict misery on myself when it comes to exercise.
You see, I realize that there is an optimal way to work out. There is a kick butt, take no prisoners, no-mercy way to throw your body into peak physical condition. And I admire the people who do that. I admire them like you will never know. I’ve spent the past 3 years trying to BE them. And this may sound like a giant cop out–BUT……
I give up.
I give up on trying to be someone I’m not.
Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t give up on trying to lose weight. I don’t give up on trying to be physically fit.
But I give up on trying to do the things that in reality turn me into a miserable person. I just don’t want to dread my workouts anymore. I don’t want to spend time trying to force myself to do exercise I hate. And I’m at a point now where I no longer want to keep trying to be someone I’m not.
I don’t need to have the body of a model. I don’t need to lift 300 pounds. I don’t need to be perfect.
All I really care about is being healthy. Yes, I want to be at my goal weight. Yes, I want to be in good physical condition. But I want that so I can enjoy my life instead of having it be a daily struggle. I want to have the strength to lift things like the Christmas box in the garage. Like heavy groceries from the car. I want to be able to give my kids piggy back rides. I want to play tag with them. I want to walk upstairs without having to stop for breath. And I can do all those things NOW. However, there was a time when I couldn’t do those things at all. Now that I have regained that ability— I don’t want to lose it. So staying in shape is important. But not so I can look good in a bathing suit. That’s not really what motivates me. It’s the regular daily tasks made easier. Time with family more enjoyable. THESE are the things I actually care about.
The problem for me though lies in the fact that exercise has become drudgery for me. It’s as if I am always trying to attain something that I can never reach. And I usually despise my workouts. Dread them in fact. And due to that fact, it makes it hard to be consistent.
The other day I read an article at Mark’s Daily Apple website. It said something I had heard before and it’s this:
The best exercise is the one you’ll do
I really like this saying. I think it’s true too because if you absolutely hate what you’re doing—you probably won’t be doing it for very long . And consistency really is the key. It isn’t one single act of exercise that makes you physically fit. It’s the repetitive, consistent participation in that activity that makes you fit. And that’s where I am lacking. I am lacking now in consistency because I keep repeatedly pursuing physical activities that I totally hate.
The article on Mark’s Daily Apple made some great points. It defined “voluntary exercise” as physical activity that you WILLINGLY engage in. You don’t do it by force. You do it because you like it. Research has shown that voluntary exercise is more beneficial than forced exercise. There was even a study with mice that compared forced treadmill running to voluntary wheel running. They were trying to determine which one of those activities helped to improve colitis in mice. The forced treadmill running actually made the colitis worse and in some cases even killed the mice! The voluntary running helped it though. Another study showed that voluntary exercise helped Alzheimer’s more than forced exercise.
For me, I really relate to this. Most often what I do for exercise would be in the category of “Forced Exercise”. And just like the mice…I feel it draining the life out of me! I’d much rather do voluntary exercise NOT forced exercise. But what I ENJOY doing voluntarily is usually not what “they” call the most effective form of exercise. What I like is usually not considered “Good Enough”.
For me it’s come down to this. I’m tired of pursuing things I hate. Things that make me miserable.
I’ve decided for now to do a bit of an experiment. I’ve given myself permission to only do exercise that I like and enjoy. I’ve given myself permission to NOT be perfect. To not compete anymore in my head with others. And I’ve even given myself permission to not worry anymore if the type of exercise ‘program’ I am doing is the most effective. Yep that’s right!! I’m not going to worry about that either.
What I choose for physical activity is for now going to be based off pure enjoyment and nothing else.
From now on as long as its movement of some kind—it works. Its acceptable.
I choose to say….it is ENOUGH.
I was reading all the comments in the comment section of that article I cited above. So many people talked about how they were living life this way. Scrapping all the forced workouts that made them miserable and doing what they loved. Some people said they just got outside and went for a walk. That’s what they did every day and that was enough. Some people were backpacking. Some were dancing. But the people who had scrapped whatever they were being told do in favor of what they ENJOYED—all seemed happier and reported being in good health.
Now obviously I won’t give myself permission to lay on the couch and do nothing. But aside from that, I am going to free my mind. I started trying to think of anything that I have ever enjoyed doing in the realm of physical activity. At first I couldn’t come up with anything because like I said I am a bit of a couch potato by nature. But the more I thought about it, the more things came to mind
1. Riding a Bike— I used to have a bike when I was a kid. And I LOVED riding it. I think I’ve lost enough weight that I could fit on one too. Now I’m afraid I’d feel terribly ridiculous but aside from that the idea of riding a bike really peaks my interest. To be honest, I think this adult tricycle is more my speed but the kids thought I might look silly. Seriously though…this seat is way more the size of my BUTT! I may have lost a lot of weight but trust me…the booty is still in tact!
2. Swimming—I LOVE being in the pool. It was something I missed so much when I gained a lot of weight. Since I have moved here I have not been to the pool at the YMCA even though I joined it back in June. I think it’s time I start swimming again.
3. Walking—I actually do love my Leslie Sansone walking videos. I can’t say enough good things about her. I don’t know where I would be if I had not found her when I started out and to this day I still love her indoor walking program. One of my favorite things to do is put on Pandora (the music channel) and just do my own walking moves that I have learned from Leslie videos. I even bought her book many years ago. It came out back in 2008. Here’s a picture of it.
In this book, she teaches you the 4 basic walking moves and you can do them on your own set to music or use her videos. Honestly it can’t get easier than that!! And I actually like doing it. I cannot say that about a lot of other things. One of my favorite things to do now is put in her 5 Mile Mega Walk and then do it in 1 mile increments. I do 1 mile and then hit pause. Later I might come back and do 2 more miles or more. Doing them in 1 mile increments though helps me to ENJOY it instead of HATE it! Leslie Sansone even has a program that you can take to become a Certified Walking Instructor. To be honest, if I was ever going to lead anything in the realm of physical activity—that would be it.
The problem is that I always get in some mental mindset where I tell myself that because I enjoy it—it must not be good enough. That I should start doing things that are more difficult. That I’m not ‘hard core’ enough. As I said above that usually leads to me starting something I will eventually quit. I just don’t want to do that anymore. It’s time I allow myself to do what works for me and let that be enough.
So here’s a picture of the walk video from this morning.
(Oh! And on a sidenote…what should I hang on each side of the tv/fireplace. I’m still trying to decorate the house after having moved in and I’m just not sure what to put here. Should they be uniform and the same to match each side? I am TERRIBLE at decorating so I thought I’d throw that out there for anyone who has an idea!)
The 5 Mile Mega Walk video has 5 totally different miles which keeps it interesting.
I also enjoy walking outside when the weather is nice. What I do not enjoy very much is forcing myself to walk when it’s too hot/too cold and/or I go so far that my knee hurts. I feel that I reached a point somewhere along the way where I just removed all the joy from my outside walks. It became all about how far I could go and how fast I could go. It became a chore. I no longer saw the trees, the sky, the birds. It was as if I drained the joy from it. Once that happened, I no longer even wanted to do it anymore.
I think I’m going to try once again, though, to view outside walking again as an enjoyable activity. The way I saw it before I turned it into a chore and took all the fun out of it. I’m going to try to get back to the beauty and peace of my surroundings. Viewing it as more of a spiritual activity than simply a calorie burning exercise. Someone left me a comment on how they saw their walks as “prayer walks”. I used to do this too! In fact in the beginning all I did was pray. Pray that I wouldn’t have a heart attack! Pray I wouldn’t fall! I often used it as a time to have conversations with God. Where did all that go? When did I replace my walks with God with nothing more than a tracker to count miles and calories burned? When did I stop seeing God’s creation because I was so focused on my pace? Yes exercise is important but when the beauty of God’s creation is washed out—my eyes are focused in the wrong direction. It’s time I get back to the joy of walking before the joy was overshadowed by other things.
After all—who doesn’t like this sky to meet you on the way out the door?
4. Dancing—-I have always liked dancing. I’m not saying I’m good at it. Just ask anyone who attempted to 2 step with me during the time I lived in Texas. Even a simple dance is usually tough for me. But I still enjoy myself even if I do look ridiculous! I do often dance with the kids in the living room so maybe I need to do more of that!
5. Rebounding—I mentioned last week that I had heard about this and wanted to give it a try. One of my awesome readers who has also become a great friend, Anne, actually sent me a rebounder she was not using. Totally brand new!! I couldn’t believe it. What a BLESSING. I am so excited!! Today I actually bounced on it for about 10 minutes!! I have to adjust to it as I have balance issues and general lack of coordination but I’m super excited!
Charlotte testing it out
Holding onto Annabelle for support!
I don’t mean that I have given up on trying to push myself in the area of fitness. That I’ve just given up on trying to do the hard things.
That may be what this sounds like though.
I think what I’m trying to say is this: Life is short.
IT REALLY IS
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my friends has cancer and they have literally given her 2-3 weeks to live. We met through the online weight loss community and connected over our struggles with our weight. But do you think THAT is something that matters right now? Of course not. What matters now is making the most of the time she has left.
And when you really stop and think about it—she is no different than any of us. The only difference is she has been given a more concrete timeframe than the rest of us about how much time she has left.
But all of us are on a time limit. We just don’t know WHEN our time is up just yet.
I guess this puts things in perspective for me. It makes me realize that I just don’t want to waste my time being miserable or draining the joy out of life unnecessarily. Yes exercise is important. But you know what?? I want to make it enjoyable. I don’t want to make it a chore. I’m tired of not even noticing the sunrise because I’m too busy killing myself on the way up the hill and tracking my speed.
I’m not saying those thing aren’t important. But I’m saying FOR ME…there needs to be balance.
I think in order for me to find peace with my workout routine–I need to put the joy back into it.
Even if that means I do things that the world would consider less effective.
Even if it means I never get a medal.
To me—it will be worth it.
I’d rather walk a little slower and enjoy the sunrise. I’ve just come to that point where I no longer feel the need to do it any other way.