Exercise – a waste of your precious time?
I exercise regularly.
For many reasons.
To stay lean. To be fit and strong. To be flexible and mobile. To boost my mood and manage my mental health. Yes, I’m prone to depression. I ruminate and overthink.
So I exercise.
And I feel all the better for it.
But I didn’t always know or appreciate the myriad of benefits of exercise. Rather I became a regular exerciser in an effort to lose weight. At this point in my life however – I turned 50 this year – I am hugely grateful I created the habit of regularly moving my body because now I appreciate the health and well-being benefits as much as the aesthetic ones. Maybe more.
Exercise is “A Good Thing”
Whatever stage you’re at in life, you’d have to agree that moving your body regularly is probably a “good thing”.
Even though many people agree with this statement, they struggle to make this habit a priority. Maybe you relate?
In this post I’d like to share with you something I read when I was in my early twenties that has stayed with me. This simple idea is behind the possibly ridiculous amount of enthusiasm I have for exercise and the reason I was able to make exercise a habit that brings me pride and satisfaction, as well as all the other health benefits.
In the beginning however…
I used to be completely “all or nothing” with my exercise
Once upon a time I use to struggle with regular exercise. I was pretty all or nothing, truth be told.
Then I read something that turned this around. It was an editorial piece in a fitness magazine. The editor (the late Christine MacIntyre of Shape Magazine) wrote that she never considered a workout to be a waste of time, indeed she considered it a very positive use of one’s time.
I was young when I read that and perhaps I needed someone’s approval for what I was choosing to do with my time. I don’t know. But I do know my response to the idea that exercise was a good use of time was profound and lasting. You see, I wanted to exercise regularly but I hadn’t found anything that inspired to do so until I read that editorial piece. A switch was flicked. I embraced the idea and have never debated whether spending time exercising was a worthy use of my time since. I don’t debate “Will I or won’t I workout this week?”; instead I’m asking: “When will exercise this week?” and “What will I do and how does it help me achieve my goals?”
Back in my “all or nothing” days I must have needed to hear some overt positivity about choosing to spend my time and energy working up a sweat. Of course this was in the days when I binged regularly on junk food (huge emotional eating binges) and used intensely punishing workouts to try to undo the damage. I guess exercise must have needed a reputation makeover in my thinking! It had become synonymous with treading water, with not actually achieving anything. I was using my workouts to balance out the calories-in/calories-out equation so I wouldn’t put on any more weight. Nothing wrong with that in theory but my mental approach meant that I viewed exercise as a punishment. I realised I associated exercise with guilt and self-hate. In this way, training wasn’t something that added to my life and until I read those words in Shape Magazine I had been struggling to see exercise as something positive.
Is exercise something positive for you?
Once the door was open to reframe exercise, I easily embraced the idea that regular training meant I was:
- Staying flexible
- Being aerobically fit
- Creating more fat burning enzymes
- Getting stronger
- Getting better exercise technique
- Creating a strong core and good posture
…as well as helping myself to burn off some unwanted excess weight.
Being physically active also meant (for me anyway) becoming interested in learning about nutrition, different forms of exercise, programming, heart rate, energy systems, anatomy, motivation strategies – and a whole lot more!
I look back and see how I began to actively seek out books and more information to keep inspiring myself to move. Not just for the calorie burn anymore, but for optimal health. I became curious about other health indicators such as blood pressure and resting heart rate.
I remember commuting to work reading Covert Bailey’s books (Fit or Fat and Smart Exercise). I read and re-read those books for months. I was deliberately reinforcing my conviction that each workout made a difference – for anyone who chose to do it, including me! I created a solid belief that each workout makes a difference no matter who you are or what stage you are at – and I continue to live by that belief today. My training regime has changed over time but the same driver is ever-present; I know that every workout is worthwhile.
In my mind, exercise became a good thing and it’s available to everyone in some form or another.
That line – “A workout is never a waste of time” – is something I am so grateful I took to heart.
Until next time