Why Do You Exercise? For real…

Today I was listening to a podcast by Rich Roll and his guest Tim Van Orden.  Rich tends to record extremely long podcasts (often two hours).  I find the organic flow of the conversation to be perfect for bringing up some truly powerful points.  There were a few gems in today's podcast, but for now I just wanted to focus on one thing Tim brought up.  It had to do with exercise, and why we exercise.  He commented that he has had many conversations lately with people who are training for marathons.  They are barely running enough miles for their training program because they literally have to drag themselves off the couch to run each time.  They don't enjoy the runs.  They are trying to prove something.  They are forcing themselves to exercise to prove that they can do it, they can accomplish something, they can burn a lot of calories, they can lose weight, in the end to be a better, stronger, fitter, more successful person.  Rarely do you hear of people running marathons simply for the sake of "I love to run".

This stirred a lot of emotion in me as I reflected on my marathon running.  I ran marathons to prove I could do anything, to prove how fit I was, to accomplish something, to lose weight, to be happier.  Just like I did the same for years with going to the gym.  For most of my life going to the gym wasn't something I truly looked forward to, it was something I knew I should be doing, and didn't feel like a great person if I didn't do it.  I actually remember one time driving with my mom, knowing that there were fun plans scheduled with the family for the day and I instead was 'supposed' to do a long bike ride to prepare for my cross Canada ride.  A ride I have chosen to do to once again prove something to myself.  As a result, I ended up crying in the car "why do I do this to myself?" was what I asked.  I didn't truly desire that bike ride, just like I didn't desire most of my rides during that time.

Now, I ride my bike everywhere I go, because I love everything about riding (except when it's pouring rain).  I choose to ride my bike rather than drive, and I love it.  The fresh air, sun on my skin, flying through the city, getting places faster than transit, powering up a massive hill, embracing a Vancouver cycling culture.  I am sure if riding my bike was my only option because I didn't have money to transit, or because I made myself do it to burn calories it wouldn't be as enjoyable for me.  Now I lift weights 3 times a week, maximum.  Before I lifted weights 6 times a week.  Half the time I was forcing myself to because I thought I had to look fit, put in a lot of effort, lose weight.  Now I realize lifting 3 times a week is invigorating, exciting, I look forward to it, I feel energized after, and I love how I am continually seeing gains each week.  With this change in perspective and attitude towards activity I look and feel better than ever.

What am I getting at?

Check in with yourself as to why you eat a certain way, why you exercise, why you live a certain lifestyle.  Is it because you like it, it feels great, it makes you happy, you look forward to it, or is it because you feel it's something you SHOULD do, or HAVE to do to lose weight, look better, be successful.  Is it because you feel like you aren't enough, you are inedaquate?  Do you need to be and do things differently to prove your are worthy?  If you are looking to get fit, stay fit, and be healthy long term you need to work with fitness and nutritional habits that you are inspired to follow.  You can't exercise or follow a diet from a place of "I am not good enough", the weight will never come off, and you will continue to sabotage yourself.  There is power in positive choice.

I hope this resonated with you.  If you have experienced this before please feel free to comment below to support someone else!

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