Exercise Ain’t Torture. It’s Self-Love

When it feels like your only salvation is Netflix and instant pizza it is easy to pass on a workout. Then another. Once more and your body forgets what fitness even feels like. Life happens and exercise cannot always be a priority. But if that is the case then why do so many of us regret not sticking with a health and fitness routine? On the other hand, does anybody know somebody who regrets being in shape?

What Is Exercise…Really?

Deep down we know it isn’t the gym we are skipping, an early morning run, or our evening yin yoga routine that eases stress and gives us wonderful sleep. Nope, ignoring fitness is giving up on yourself one day at a time. And the body knows this if we know how to listen: pain, disease, depression or anxiety, poor sleep and poorer sex lives are common symptoms of an underactive body.

Despite what the Silicon Valley technocrats think, we are not robots or computers. Even if our bodies are super advanced machines, we have nothing in common with electronic boxes sitting on a desk all day needing only a power outlet to function. We are made to move…just a quirk of creation I suppose.

I feel better with that sci-fi rant out of the way. Thanks for bearing with me as I refocus this article.

It Starts With Your Head

Macro means big and micro means small. Skipping a workout is a micro aspect of your lifestyle; working out 3 times per week over the next 8 weeks to reverse type 2 diabetes is a macro one. When it comes to fitness a lot of macro goals go something like this:

“I need to drop 15 pounds before next month’s social function”

“I hate my body and the idea of a gym membership gives me hope”

“Muscles get chicks”

Somewhere, somehow exercise became a chore to please others, attract a partner, numb the anxiety of health negligence. No wonder people hate it so much.

Love Yourself Dammit

Exercise is not punishment and why create stress over seeing it as another “to do” on the old to-do list? Movement is a gift we can give our bodies for allowing us to exist in this world as something solid. Would you rather be a ghost, a shadow, or a dandelion seed floating in the wind? A jellyfish? Maybe a Wi-Fi signal? Our body lets us do physical work, so let’s do some physical work.  Why? Because being alive and well is a blessing. Don’t believe me? Try getting eaten by a boa constrictor…

dandelion in the wind
Hey wait, this looks really peaceful

Viewing exercise as self-care is a transformational shift. And it is an honest assessment. Movement is a tune-up for body and mind. A way of showing gratitude for your human vessel. Love is a verb, an action, making exercise a fantastic high-energy way to send love to yourself.

Think for a minute how good it feels to be loved. Your partner or pet dog, a child or a parent. Contrast that with feeling unloved. Rejection is the ugliest feeling in existence. Think how important your relationship with your body is…and can be, when you consider the power of love and acceptance.

The Solution

Before you skip a workout tell yourself I am committed to my health. Then ask yourself Why.  

When it comes to the gym, yoga, healthful eating, stretching, juicing veggies, or doing anything else that is good for you but you don’t want to do, ask why I am doing this? This question activates your neocortex: the thinking, planning, rational part of the brain that wants you to win. So take a deep breath and imagine your fittest, healthiest, most in control you. This vision of your highest self is the product of self-discipline that comes from being in harmony with yourself mind, body, and spirit. See, an exercise routine is more than a way to feel good or change your body; it is a tangible way to change your relationship with yourself. And if you happen to be the selfless type and see no benefit from self-care, try it and see how it improves your relationships with others, and ultimately the whole world.

Own a Home? You got the Skills to Become Your Healthiest Self

Think back when you qualified for a home loan. That hard work and dedication finally paying off. Felt good, right?

Scoring hundreds of thousands of dollars was no accident and probably was no off-the-hip decision. It was a process. You meet with a loan officer and formulated a plan. Set a savings goal. Stuck to it…mostly. Refocused after some impulsive spending sprees maybe, but never took your eyes off the prize.

Qualifying for a gigantic home loan wasn’t random or haphazardly done. No 21-day shortcut to bank approval, no blaming family, friends, or co-workers for tempting you to overspend.

You made a goal and KNEW you could accomplish it. And your willpower increased as the vision took shape.

The Secret

Getting healthy is the same, exactly the same. Losing weight, building muscle, rehabbing injuries, reversing disease, feeling as healthy as a jacked racehorse, it’s all the same: Planning. Goal-setting. Consistency. Amen.

And yep, this goes against most ideas about getting fit. Why? Because quick fixes and secret solutions are deceptive nonsense, marketing ploys to profit off confusion, impatience, and feeling powerless. If popular claims of health and fitness ever seem baffling, trust me, it’s intentional. Getting your wellbeing under control is too simple to satisfy the greed of ineffective supplement companies, dishonest fitness magazines, and the sickcare we call healthcare.

But you don’t have to fall for all that.

Reality Check

Planning for success begins with killing the notion of quick fixes. No single food, supplement, exercise, or diet will do jack shit to change your body. It just doesn’t work that way. The human organism is too complex and highly-tuned to be tricked into dropping a bunch of precious fat or building metabolically costly muscle from something as simple as a diet pill or gym workout. It’s annoying but it’s the truth.

You Are So Capable

Once you’ve dropped the illusions it’s time to get down to business. Good news is you’ve already got 2 of the 3 requirements for unlimited heath improvements: Patience and consistency. The 3rd is a plan.

Stop Thinking About It. Take Action About It

Hire a fitness pro to show you how to lift weights and set fitness goals, create a plan to follow, and rework your eating habits to reach them. Meeting with someone who knows what s/he is doing is worth so much more than hours of surfing the World Wide Web saying “WTF?” at the heaps of contradictory fitness advice/claims /horseshit.

Ta Ta For Now

If spending a bit of cash on getting fit sounds no good, remember that it’s your quality of life for fuck’s sake. Hating your body, being in constant pain, or feeling hella tired and greasy everyday have simple fixes and are very much within your power. But remember, it takes knowledge, planning, and grit. Gotta stick to your plan and never forgetting your goals.

And if you already know what you need to do, then do.

Don’t talk about it be about it.

Hate Exercise? This Might Be Why

Have you despised exercise forever? Are words like exercise, gym, running, push-ups, etc., etc., emotional triggers? Let’s explore why and hopefully fix it.

bad teacher gym class
school can be a legit bloodsport

We are great at remembering hurtful things

Strong experiences make strong memories. Why? Because exciting or terrible times make us feel a lot more than usual. Feel is short for feelings you know, which are intense. Feelings call the shots, which is just how life goes; even 100% logical types are driven by their repressed emotions. Booze, drugs, sex, slot machines, and checking out via electronic “screen time” are ways to hide and escape our emotions (and emotional memories) for a minute.

Personally, I think memories are stored feelings, emotional snapshots of an event (or person) compressed and saved on our mental hard drives or pressed like flowers between the pages of an old book. A musty old book that could use some sunlight and attention.

Remember when…

As a kid did you like playing? What about recess? Running around doing random fun crap was the best. Then something changed, right?

Of all the people I’ve met who are anti-exercise, most have traumatic memories involving “heath.” A PE teacher who hated you because you hated volleyball, or a sports coach who lost her shit when your team lost a game. What about a controlling parent who used love as an excuse to body shame you? The common thread here is childhood feelings of inadequacy dumped on us by persons we either loved and trusted, or who were trusted to see after our best interests.

So a few years pass. That freshmen 15 gets shrugged off as a normal part of adulating. Hangovers suddenly suck as much as ever but people tell you that’s part of aging. Health conditions related to your diet and inactivity begin creeping up, but who cares? The Good Doctor has pills for that, it’s not the food you eat, it your genes (as your jeans feel ready to burst open from so much cheese). So here you sit missing the good old days when you felt good, but you lack motivation to make easy health changes because you’re complacent in knowing your health deterioration is going according to schedule thanks to so many decent people happy to smother you with toxic guidance.

Guess what beautiful? They failed, not you.

The Wager

Now see here, I’m willing to bet some cash that you don’t really hate moving your body. You hate the feelings that come with shameful memories related to exercise. And probably the sense of powerlessness that comes from steadily watching your body go to hell.

i hate exercise but i'm out of vodka
lol but it works, sport

Happily, it doesn’t take a push-up challenge to properly start your journey unto good health. Nope, it starts with your mind because…

We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves

If you do not make a change today you will live as the person you were yesterday, and the day before that, all the way back to when that little prick in gym glass called you fat and Mr. Jerkoff Gym Teacher chuckled with a sinister glint in his eye. Fuck that noise, it’s time to rewire your brain.

Please quit with the disempowering statements. You can do whatever you want, just do it consistently and it is yours. No big secret here.

Heath Equals Action

I don’t care how cool somebody sounds when body-bashing himself or poking a vegetarian with a stick. See through the bullshit and realize feeling strong and healthy absolutely kills bragging about surviving off doritos or accepting constant low-back pain from choosing netflix over stretching (do both at the same time, yeah!). Because taking care of yourself is the highest form of self-respect, which is damned important.

Conclusion

We put tons of mental energy into health and fitness. The shoulds and should nots we do battle with in our anxious brains. We hope and hope and hope for change, take time to hate our reflection in the mirror, burn willpower on denying “bad” food, and all sorts of other ineffective stuff that makes us feel like a failure, so we quit and become unhealthier with a vengeance.

It doesn’t have to be this way Toto. Start moving, bonus points if you break a sweat. And realize eating for nutrition is important because food is fuel. Your body does so much amazing stuff, it totally deserves it.

Loving yourself begins with healthful action.

Want to Get Your Best Body? Patience is the Answer

Ever notice how body changes come in big erratic chunks? Sure, progress should be linear, like a steady paycheck or seconds ticking away on a clock, but unfortunately it ain’t. Progress, if anything, is consistently inconsistent. Continue reading “Want to Get Your Best Body? Patience is the Answer”