At one time I thought that too, for I am a recovering work-out-aholic. I held intense judgement about physical activity that wasn’t hard on my body. No pain no gain.
Growing up an athlete my physical exercise was hard. It was intense. It rarely was pleasurable. I took this attitude into the gym after my sports days were over. I had never learned any different.
That all changed when I met my friend, Chelsea. She taught me about the pleasure of just going for a walk - as in, that’s your exercise for the day. She was more slender than me, didn’t dread going to the gym like I did and was WAY LESS stressed about getting in physical exercise for the day. Something she was doing was working, so I agreed (many times reluctantly) to skip the gym and just go for a walk with her.
The walks were always pleasurable. We were able to catch up on life, laugh and connect back with Mother Nature and her delicious fresh air. My legs typically were sore the next day because I was not accustomed to the strides of walking such long distances, I was a runner after all.
Alright, this was something I could get on board with.
I came to realize what Chelsea and healthy people around the world knew - it’s all about balance. It’s about enjoyment.
I was healthy, but I was not balanced. I had back and knee pain I was ignoring. My body was pleading with me to slow down and yet, I told it to shut up because we had miles to run. The gym felt like a job to me, whereas Chelsea enjoyed her days in the gym as much as she enjoyed her long walks.
I realized that my intense judgement of what a workout should look like came from a place of fear. I feared that if I didn’t work out hard enough, I wouldn’t get the body that would suddenly make me feel amazing about myself. I wouldn’t get the body that would suddenly win me the affection and attention of those around me. I wouldn’t have the body that could athletically perform, which came with bragging rights. Although I recognized the fear, I didn’t immediately recognize the unworthiness I felt, which spurred the fear.
When my life coach clients ask about what workout they should start with when seeking to improve their health, I tell them to start slow. Do what feels good. Try different things. Go for a walk, try a yoga or dance class. You don’t need to start with running or crossfit - but if you want to by all means do it. Don’t judge yourself. Just move. Every body is different and will like and respond to different things.
As a life coach, I encourage my clients to ask themselves three questions:
What results do I want to see?
How will this affect/change my life?
Why is this important to me now?
Answering these questions can give you serious insight to your level of commitment and yes...even self-judgement.