Understanding Your Relationship With Exercise

Exercise is more than a daily experience. It’s a relationship you are in with your mind and your body. Over the years, exercise and I have had our highs and lows. There’s been pain, obsession, distance and commitment issues. At the end of the day, I always find myself back in the loving, supportive arms of movement; it’s good for my muscles, joints, bones and my soul.

Take a look at your current relationship status and what it means for your future.

I’m into you; Just not that into you.

Maybe you’ve hopped on and off the fitness train, just not really feeling committed to any one route yet. Exercise generally makes you feel better, and while you know that, you can’t seem to keep the affair going for too long. You’ve seen some friends find what works for them – indoor cycling, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Crossfit. You’ve tried your hardest to like these but none seem to keep your interest for too long. You may have even convinced yourself that exercise isn’t really your thing and have accepted that your body “can’t change” because you’ll never like exercising. It’s easy to laugh and joke about how little you exercise; the humor hides your continued frustration for wanting to like it, but never coming around to actually liking it.

So, now what?

First of all, please know that this makes you normal. I say that to my clients a lot. But, it’s important to know that this wavering relationship with exercise is so stinking common. Does this mean you should give up trying to make it work? I’d like to say no. What I have noticed most about people who are pretty grey about exercise is they are too busy trying to do the things others tell them; the latest fads, the coolest studios, the trendiest boutiques. When they don’t seem to fit in there, they figure there’s not place out there for them and that’s simply not true. Your body needs exercise. I don’t care if you run around your office all day, work on cars all night or anything job in between. Even if you have a labor-intensive career, there’s always a need for exercise as your body becomes accustomed to your daily habits. So if you want to change, you can’t stay the same. There are all sorts of exercises facilities out there; indoor, outdoor or even both. There are beautiful high-end boutiques and gritty , iron gyms. Perhaps hiring a personal trainer is what will keep you accountable. The point is, as you get older, your bones rely on strong muscles to keep them protected. If you aren’t challenging those muscles to stay strong, your bones will suffer. That’s one relationship you have to keep sturdy.

You consider yourself perpetually single. There’s no room for exercise in your life.

Being single is so fun, so liberating, so unobtrusive, you couldn’t imagine letting anyone in and robbing you of your independence. Well, I’m here to tell you two things. One, single ladies, the right partner will do not rob you of these. Two; exercise won’t take away your fun. If it does, you’re not in the right atmosphere. Similar to the points above, exercise is always valuable, but more so as you age. Sure, you can decide to commit later in life, but the habits you develop until you get there will make committing that much more difficult to get around.

Do I really need it?

You may be stuck in your ways and comfortable with being comfortable. Like all relationships, it’s about give and take. This goes for exercise as well as your future beau. There’s no reason to completely change who you are and rid yourself of independence. But, exercise is a fabulous supplement to an already able-bodied individual. You may even realize it feels good to be committed to something, even if it’s not another human 🙂

You’re in a committed, obsessive, #swolemate situation.

With the 9-5 grind, you spend most of your day waiting for your 6pm gym session. As a matter of fact, next week you’re going to try splitting up your cardio and lifting sessions each day so you can spend more time sweating in your second home. Nights out are less appealing because they will cut into your early Saturday and Sunday morning classes. It’s not a good day unless you’re FitBit confirms your caloric slaughter and your legs shake when you get off the toilet. Facebook knows when you check into your Globo-Gym and requires a selfie post-pump. You, my friend, might need to slow your roll.

Am I a stage-5 clinger?

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “everything in moderation”. But, it’s true. There’s nothing wrong with making exercise a high priority in your life. In fact, not enough people do. But, I’ve also seen the ugly side of “too much of a good thing”. When I graduated college and found a gym with the most incredible instructors, I became obsessed with classes. Friday nights, Saturday mornings, 7 days a week, 2-3 classes per day. Did I feel awesome? Sure did. Until back-to-back stress fractures and a pathetic social life. I was 23! What the heck did I need to be in bed, not mingling on a weekend night for? While a long story, I recognized that the phrases “all or nothing” and “can’t stop, won’t stop” were simply foolish. At 23, it wasn’t easy to burn out. At 42, it is. There needs to a balance; not just for your body’s sake, but your mind’s. If there are specific workouts or classes you just can’t give up, be sure to make them a priority with the inclusion of 1-2 rest days, even if it’s some light active recovery. You will find that if you continue to make your nutrition a priority, (especially on your off days) you’ll not only avoid losing your fitness gains, you even have the potential to increase them. Rest is a powerful tool when it comes to body composition and the one most overlooked.

You exercise…but aren’t monogamous.

One day it’s cycling, the next it’s HIIT, the following it’s trail running. You can’t seem to devote yourself to one type of exercise; you love it all! Listen – this isn’t always a bad thing when your relationship status remains uncommitted. 5 sessions at one club, 5 sessions at another – no one owns you. Testing the waters is actually a great way to keep things fun and keep you interested.

Will I still be able to reach my goals?

The thing you need to be clear on are your intentions. Do you intend on building muscle? Losing fat? Increasing your endurance? If you have very specific goals, you may need to start narrowing down your options. This doesn’t mean you can no longer have any fun, it’s just a different kind of fun. If you are able to put a plan together and commit to it over a specific amount of time, you can make the changes to fit your exact goals. There was a silly phrase “muscle confusion” that was thrown out into the fitness universe some time ago. Warning: Your muscles don’t get “confused”. They do, however, adapt. So if you continue to make them work harder doing some of the same things with changing variables, they will continue to adapt. Thus, helping you step closer to the body composition changes you are looking for. Does this mean you need to stick to one plan, one program, forever? Heck no. In fact, I happen to find myself changing and adapting each year based on my interests and goals. But, just make sure you are clear on your expectations.

Your relationship with exercise is based on commitment. How and when you get there is completely up to you. 

“No man (woman) has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man (woman) to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his (her) body is capable.” – Socrates (kind of ) 🙂

 

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