Now that we are a full week into the new year and still have a firm grasp on those new year resolutions we set, I wanted to write about one of the most popular resolutions: exercise. Odds are good one of your resolutions centers around something to do with health, and just as my last post was about being kind to ourselves while making our new year intentions, I feel particularly passionate about this topic and how we treat ourselves when it comes to our physical form.
Perhaps it’s because at one time, in what feels like a former life, I was an exercise addict and bulimic, or because I want to uplift those suffering from the “not-good-enough” epidemic we have in our society. The pressure people put on themselves to look a certain way and fit an ideal mold can lead them do absurd things to lose weight or “get fit”. I know. I was one of them.
Instead, what if…(dig deep to imagine this with me)…we were all doing only the things we enjoyed for exercise instead of things we think we “should” be doing but don’t enjoy at all, because we keep seeing this commercial about how a Nordick Flex changes peoples lives in 20 minutes per day, or our best friend guilted us into doing P90X with her, or we think training for a half marathon would be a good way to stay motivated to lose weight but we hate running. That last one I know intimately. In 2009, I ran a half marathon. I hate running. I haven’t ran since.
You know you’ve seen those people jogging down the road that obviously don’t want to be jogging, but probably free like they “should” be jogging because someone told them it was the best form of exercise or their mom was a runner or they have to fit into that dress for a wedding next week. That was me. Now, I just want to roll down my window and say, “If you don’t like jogging, please STOP! You don’t have to do it. I’ll give you a ride home.”
My guess is that if we were all being kinder and gentler to ourselves and doing what we enjoyed for exercise no matter what anyone else thinks, we’d have a much happier, healthier and “in shape” society. At this particular juncture in my life, I only enjoy doing kundalini yoga, leisurely walking, and slow bike riding. And that’s all that fits into my lifestyle right now with a toddler and a baby on the way. If I find something else I enjoy later on in life, I’ll do that too. Or if biking isn’t doing it for me anymore, I’ll stop, and it’ll be ok.
I do have some crazy friends who like to run. If you’re one of them, by all means, run. If you like that kick boxing class, kick box your heart out. I’m all about experiencing the world and trying new things. What if our new year resolution was to find what we enjoy doing for exercise and just do that? Allowing whatever that is to evolve and change over time as we change and evolve and discover new likes and dislikes? Doesn’t that feel simple and easy instead of loaded with false pressure?
And if weight loss is one of your resolutions, take it from someone who lost nearly 70 pounds and kept it off (minus two pregnancy stints), weight loss in my experience is 80 percent nutrition, 20 percent exercise, and 100 percent mental. During my weight loss journey in 2012, my activity level actually decreased. I went from one hour of cardio and weights, six days a week to 20+ minutes of leisurely walking my dog and light yoga almost daily. My whole being felt lighter and healthier, which is the ultimate goal, no?
Doing anything you don’t like to do won’t last, and whatever results you produce will fade too. You know this already. Why spend one more second doing anything you don’t want to do, especially when it comes to your free time? You get to choose anything you want. Why not choose balance, peace and lasting health. I’m right there with you choosing the same each day and doing my best. That’s all we can do. Be kind to yourself. Do your best. Repeat.