“Oh, dear. Did she put out another wordy post AGAIN?”
Yes, yes she did.
So, I stumbled upon this post by Linz over at Itz Linz today, and I had so many thoughts about it that I had to write a response.
From the post, Linz is currently on an exercise sabbatical for some health issues. As she is going on long walks and taking it easy, she is CRAVING some real working out. And it’s driving her nuts how she so badly wants to run, lift, do SOMETHING. Meanwhile, there are so many people out there that choose to do nothing even though they are perfectly healthy and able to do so. How annoyingly crazy is it that she wants to work out so badly but can’t, and there’s all these people that totally could get a sweat on, but don’t?
A little background about me (for those of you reading who are not my mother or my sister; Hi, Mom! Hi, Amanda!), my husband is an ex-professional athlete who loves to work out and be fit. I’m an ex-couch potato who’s always struggled to get moving. I tell you, Hulk could have written Linz’s post for me! He’s always gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) poking me to get up and go to the gym.
So I am definitely one of those people who, from time to time, choose to do nothing. You probably wouldn’t know it from my blog, but for years I’ve struggled with finding my fitness groove. I go in spurts, sure, and did a race here or there. But until recently, exercise and fitness has always been just a nice idea for me, not a lifestyle. It’s only since I started taking my health seriously this year that I’ve been digging deep and committing to finding my inner fitness guru. So, from the couch-potato-trying-to-be-fit perspective, here’s my list the excuses people (um, I) use and what I think they (*ahem* I) really mean:
- “I don’t work out because, well, I’m just too lazy.”
The real story: I don’t really know what it feels like to be fit. Hulk is always saying if I could just feel what it’s like to be really fit and healthy, I would never want to go back to the couch. And since I don’t know what I’m missing, it’s natural to think that it’s not worth the effort and time if I’m not seeing immediate benefits.
I imagine that it’s especially hard for people that have never really exercised before save for some unfortunate dodge ball experiences in middle school gym class. In the beginning days of a new workout program or training plan, it’s so easy to get discouraged when you feel wimpy, or feel like people are staring at the slow/fat girl running down the street, or you can’t do what you used to back in the day (“Seriously? I can’t even do one push-up?”). Plus, you know what it’s like the day after your first day back in the gym after a long break. Life hurts for several days. If you don’t have an idea or example of how awesome and fun an active lifestyle could be, or you don’t really have any motivation or goals besides the fact that your doctor told you to start exercising, then what’s the point? This is hard. I like life better when it’s not so hard. As if life is easier when you’re out of shape.
It kind of goes hand in hand with making goals, but if you lack the understanding of all the good you’re doing to yourself and how much easier and better life is when you’re fit, then that’s one huge motivational tool you’re missing. At least, that’s what I’m told. I am not really there yet, but I’m getting there.
- “I don’t have the time.”
The real deal: Finding time isn’t always the real issue. Realizing that for me, exercise is a priority deserving of time currently devoted to other activities is the real issue. To be honest, it’s taken me months to figure out how to fit working out in my schedule. Months. It was a total trial-and-error process of seeing what works and weighing the pros and cons of each plan. It wasn’t until I realized that working out was important enough to me that I was willing to put other stuff off to make time for it that it became easier to make time for working out.
I have to be okay with waking up earlier and missing out on sleep, or turning down an impromptu invitation to hang out with friends, or putting off laundry or dishes or making fancy-pants dinners so I can work out instead. I’m not saying I always skimp on sleep and ignore my friends because I have to be at the gym. But if there’s a choice to make – work out or go to dinner with friends – and I want exercise to be a priority for my lifestyle, then I sometimes need to make choices how to fit it in if I am not planning properly.
- “I’m bored. Exercise is boring. I don’t know what to do.”
The real deal: I need a goal. And not just any goal; a goal I care about. If I don’t have something to work for that I want to work for, I get really bored and burnt out really fast.
Before my half marathon training started, I dreaded going to the gym. I had been lifting to get stronger and for the bragging rights of hitting impressive (to me) numbers, but I was just so bored with it. Now, I have a new goal to finish the race and finish strong. If I’m going to do it, I need to stick to my training plan. I know if I don’t, I won’t be ready come December. So that pushes me to lace up the sneakers four times a week and hit the road.
My goals don’t necessarily have to be events, either. Generally I find that whenever I invest money into something I see it through. Last year I took a bootcamp class for a couple months. Since I was paying for it, I made sure to go to every single session to get my money’s worth. But everyone’s different, so the trick is to keep trying stuff until you find what works for you. I’ve also crashed and burned trying to do 30-day yoga challenges, following the TurboFire training plan, and training for two previous half marathons. Those were goals that I thought were a nice idea, but just didn’t “light ze fire in ze belly” for me. If something lights your belly fire, then embrace it and use that energy to make it a habit. But not Fireball. I mean, a physical activity of some sort.
I’m sure there’s more reasons, but these were the ones that always impacted me. Activity just has to be come part of your life, just something that you do, to be consistent. These are just a few pearls of my wisdom I am able to share as I venture forth on this self-imposed fitness journey. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can’t, but now you have some insight on why these silly people don’t take care of themselves. Everyone needs their “aha!” moment at times to figure out the right path, and everyone’s path is a bit different. Somebody’s “right” will undoubtedly be somebody else’s “wrong” so you have to do what makes you happy right now, unless you’re sort of kidding yourself (like my old play-Sims-and-eat-jelly-beans-marathon habit from college) 🙂
How about you? Does it drive you crazy when people don’t take care of their health, or do you kind of understand where they’re coming from?