I’ve had lots of time to think about exercise now that I’ve been sidelined with an injury. I know myself and I would never take the time to reflect on working out if I were able to just do it instead.
I’ve become grateful for this opportunity. Even if it comes with a torn hamstring, I also got a big Aha moment out of it.
For years, I said and truly believed that I loved to exercise. Now, from my perch on the couch high atop an ice pack, I can see that I felt compelled to exercise. It was a box that I checked in my frenetic daily life, the thing I did between dropping a kid at school and grocery shopping. Can you truly love doing something when you feel guilty if you miss a day? When you feel pushed to do it by factors outside yourself, like the secret yoga pants consortium that meets in a Masonic Temple and spends billions of dollars each year researching how to hypnotize female consumers into wearing them every single day?
I made that up about the yoga pants.
Still, there were plenty of days when I should have skipped the workout and didn’t think I could. What was I so afraid of? That I would instantly gain weight, lose muscle mass, have an acute heart issue, lose my yoga pants license?
I get it now. I wasn’t exercising out of love for it (or me), but out of some vague fear of not doing it. And as a result, I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. Or why. Now that I can’t move my leg in certain ways, I get to think about it.
I suspect I’m not the only one.
I talk to lots of people about their workouts and most of my conversations go something like this:
Me: So what’s your workout routine?
Other person: I run. I snorkel or ski on vacay. I go to the [big box gym up or down] the road.
Me: What do you do there?
Other person: Stuff, you know, like classes, the elliptical, some free weights. I had a trainer, but, you know, now that I think about it, I haven’t seen my trainer lately. Maybe my trainer went missing? I don’t know. I tried yoga. Hated the smell.
Me: So what do you do to balance your body?
Other person: Balance my checkbook?
Me: No, your body. How do you make sure you work out in a balanced way? You run, right? So what do you do for your upper body and core?
Other person: [Blank stare] I workout every day, so yeah, I’m good.
Me: Okay, so do you like your body? Are you happy with it?
Other person: Like my body? I like wine. I put it out there on Facebook all the time. I really like wine.
Me: Okay, but how about your body?
Other person: [Pointing to themselves] This?
Me: The thing under your head.
Other person: I don’t know. I’d like to lose a few pounds. I’d like more definition. I’m tired. I’ve got this thing here [pinching a little flesh in their midsection, bottom or outer thigh]. I’d like to lose that.
Me: How long have you felt that way?
Other person: Hmm. Probably since college. Like 1993.
Look, we all have limited time, whether because we’re parents or working or just because we’re mortal. And the time we dedicate to fitness is precious. We need to make it count and be efficient and cost-effective. We want to see and feel the benefits of the time, money and effort we’re putting in. And there’s an easy way to make this happen: Just be mindful.
What’s not working right in your body? Are you addressing that? If you have lower back pain, are you working your core? If your hips are tight from running or cycling, what are you doing to open them? Have you hit a plateau with your favorite workout? How’s your eating? What are you doing to ensure you maintain good posture and balance as you (gracefully) age?
Maybe it’s time to do an inventory of your body and look for ways to change up your routine so you get the results you want. There are so many fun, great options out there. Do some investigating. Try a new workout, preferably with a good buddy who makes you laugh. Think about what you need. Talk to fitness professionals. We love to chat.
When you exercise with purpose and intention, you get results. Which makes you feel successful. Which makes you happy. Which gives you that sunny glow people in commercials always have.
Get the glow. Fall in love again with exercise.
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