As the days become longer, brighter and warmer, many of us are becoming more active and beginning to make new fitness goals, perhaps to get in shape for the coming summer months. When starting a new exercise program or setting new fitness goals, it is important to understand any past “bad behavior” and forgive yourself so that you can jump into your new workout routine with energy and enthusiasm. Often we begin a fitness plan out of guilt over all the lazy evenings spent on the couch watching TV and eating junk food, which can lead to wanting to make up for lost time and exercising with a frantic anxiety that can quickly lead to burnout and negativity.
If you find yourself making fitness goals because you feel you should be exercising, and not because you want to, you will most likely find that your exercise plans fizzle out pretty quickly. This is because as soon as we feel we should do something, our inner rebel surfaces and immediately begins to look for a way out of it. If you examine all the “shoulds” in your life, you will notice that these are always things that you do to please others or to remain socially acceptable — but they are never things you would do for the sheer joy of it. Exercise does not have to be one of those “shoulds”!
Transforming exercise from a should to a want is the key to long lasting fitness success and it is easier than you might think. The secret lies in compassionately examining your “lazy” behavior to gain insight into what needs you are trying to meet.
A few years ago, I worked full time at an office job and when I got home I was usually cranky and exhausted. I figured that if I spent all day doing things I didn’t want to, my free time should be spent doing whatever I felt like. At the end of the day I needed to vegetate, turn off my mind and do something undemanding and working out did not fit this description. I also felt very achy and tired and exercising just seemed plain mean!
Then I discovered swimming and found it to be relaxing and I could get into a meditative rhythm where my mind went blank, and afterward I felt refreshed and calm. My body and mind felt more peaceful after a swim than it did after a night of TV. During the day, I found myself actually looking forward to my after work swim! So instead of trying to deny my need for relaxation after work, I found a form of exercise that fulfilled that need perfectly. As my lifestyle changes, so do my needs and I have managed to continually adapt my fitness plan to mesh with the rest of my life so that it remains a constant fixture and not just a passing phase.
So if you haven’t been very active lately, don’t call yourself “lazy”. Remember that you are never lazy — rather, you are simply trying to get your needs met through what you may label as “lazy” behavior. Ask yourself what those needs are and then get creative and adventurous and see how many different ways you can meet those needs through exercise.
Drop the guilt and drop the “shoulds” and instead take up regular exercise to please yourself and no one else. Most importantly, do it because you want to!
Kate Fisher is a BCRPA Registered Personal Trainer and Yoga Fitness Leader.