Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exercise is Hard but Also it's Not

Photo Cr. Frank R.

I sometimes judge people for their lack of activity, or their superfluous mass. Usually it's when I'm cranky and I need to make myself feel better. It's always an internal dialogue. But I still feel like an a$$hole when I do it.

Being fit is hard. Obviously it's hard. Otherwise everyone would be running around looking sexy as heck.

There was a time in my life when it was hard for me too. I'd sit around and think, "I should do some exercise," and instead I'd end up drinking on the couch with my dog. I don't have that dog anymore, but she was very tolerant of my girth. Dogs don't judge. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.

But now maintaining my weight and exercising every day is kind of..... easy. I realize I just made myself sound like an even larger douche.

If I want to lose weight, I just change my calorie counting app. A couple months later, bam, I'm there. It really is just that simple. It's like having a knob on my body I can turn to decide my weight, albeit one with a very delayed response.

"I don't know why it took me so long to lose weight..."

And not exercising is actually harder for me than exercising. I've been super sick the past couple weeks. The kind of thing that if I told you what it was you'd go, "ugh, that sounds like the most terrible thing ever." It was.

I still exercised as much as I could. Even though I mostly would regret it the next day. It's just really hard for me to make myself do nothing. Most folks have to force themselves to exercise. I'm entirely the reverse.

That's why I judge people who don't do what I do. Because for me, I would have to choose to eat more, or to exercise less. I would have to make myself do it. And as much I know - logically - that we're different people, my personal attitude is going to color my perception of others. Of course, out loud, I would be 100% sympathetic. "Oh you're a little tired? Yeah, that sounds super tough." But inside my head..... Awfulness.

I'm pretty lucky that I don't have a family or too many other responsibilities. It's easy for me to stick to a routine, because I know I won't have any surprises to interfere with my workout. So I can see why a parent who works full time would have a tough time with a regular fitness schedule.

Except that most of the other athletes I'm friends with online and in real life, including Meghan and Geoffrey, are parents who work full time! Their schedules are insane! The people who say they have a hard time getting motivated to work out or eat right..... are the ones who spend hours playing games, or messing around with their smart phones, or watching TV.
"It's dark and freezing out.... Why
would I procrastinate my run...?"

So it's not a matter of time or energy. It's a matter of discipline. And unfortunately there's no shortcut to it. People look for easy solutions: Easy diets or training plans that will get them "shredded fast." But it's a lie. The only method is this:

Hard work. Time.

People usually learn discipline because they have to. By getting a job, by having kids. And then they can apply that skill to something else. But if you don't have it, then everything seems hard. Doing your taxes, cooking, scheduling appointments for important things and then going to them. For some people, those things are like OMG STRESS BOMB. For people who are accustomed to responsibility it's like, whatever, just get it done.

Health and exercise is about mindset. They only way to start doing it and to stick with it is to change who you are. I can't be the person I was 5 years ago and do what I do now. It's simply impossible. The person I was and the person I am are completely different.

Now me would look at past me and say, "man, what a fat loser!"

So ok, maybe I'm still working on the judgmental jerk part.

When I started on this journey, I was worried about losing the old me. And it wasn't that the old me was such a great guy. But my life at the time was what I knew, and I was comfortable with it. Changing it for something different is scary, and there's no guarantee that new thing will be better.

And most people, when they look for the super fast and easy solution, don't want to change anything about their lives. They don't want to change their schedules, or what they eat, or what time they go to bed, or how often they go out, or anything. They want to do the bare minimum possible so that they can otherwise be the same person, just a little skinnier or sexier-looking.

It doesn't work.

New you means just that: New you. And not just better looking. Becoming someone who's obsessed with health and fitness isn't just about looking different. Your priorities change. Your attitude changes. You friends - and the time you have for them - changes. A huge amount of who you are changes. You become a different person.

And now, the thought of going back to drinking and snacking and lounging and loitering and whatever I used to do.... now that's scary. Because I'm comfortable with the new me. It makes sense, for the time being. Oh sure I'm a little neurotic. I exercise too much sometimes, I starve myself sometimes.

But I'm also not done learning. The more I've changed, the more excited I get by the prospect of further change. I don't want to be mired. I don't want to live in "comfort". The one thing I've grown to love is pain and challenge. Because those are the things that make you stronger and better.

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