Here's why working out doesn't have to suck
Updated: May 27, 2020
My relationship with exercise has evolved over time to get to where it’s at today—more love-love than love-hate. You’re probably familiar with the wellness spiel. It’s been waxed-poetic to me on many occasions, and heck, I’m even a perpetrator myself—emphasizing the importance of exercise, its life-changing impacts, it being the solution to most problems (it is) like alleviating symptoms of depression, lengthening lifespan, improving skin, relieving stress, etc. We get it. Exercise is like, a pillar of life, but, as I’ve learned, it doesn’t have to be your whole life.
I’m not here to tell you how to exercise because there’s no right way to do it, there’s only your way (I’m not referring to form. There’s certainly a proper, safe way to exercise, hence trainers and athletes. I’m referring to the personal, emotional role exercise plays in one’s life), but perhaps this will shift a negative view of exercise to a positive one, or at least a manageable one.
I’m not exercising with as much gusto as during that one phase in college—hitting the gym hard, biking to yoga every day, biking everywhere, really—but I do have a steadier workout routine and a much more dynamic connection with exercise itself, which is more than most—according to the New York Times, about two-thirds of Americans don’t meet the standard exercise guidelines of about 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as walking. Luckily, I’ve embraced fitness as a companion. We’re pals. When we spend time together, I enjoy its company. I can vent my frustrations, release my tension and inhibitions, show an uglier side of me—workouts don’t mind. They encourage this behavior.
If I skip a workout—didn’t make time, was sore, straight up didn’t feel like it—I try not to be hard on myself. I’ll find alternative forms of working out like listening to music and vigorously dancing around the apartment to an invisible audience, gyrating and lip-syncing to an album I love and pretending I’m a pop superstar. That usually gets the heart rate up. If I’m not up for a sweat session I’ll squeeze in some form of physical activity, no matter how mild, as long as it’s something that can get me out of an upright seated position at the desk or out of the house. I’ll go for a long stroll along the beach or take an Instagram-led yoga class—check out Adrian at the Warrior Flow Foundation or Youtube’s Yoga with Adriene—or curate my own yoga sequence on the patio. The main thing, I find, is going with the flow and heeding what my body and mood tells me. When following my natural inclinations the workouts are more enjoyable, and dare I say—fun.
There are various forms of exercise and I try to give myself positive reinforcement every time I’m active, regardless the degree of activity. There has been a shift for the better in my perception of exercise. There are days for hardcore HIIT, biking around the neighborhood, or just walking a few blocks to the store, and to me, these all count. I read somewhere that the hack to solid abs is vacuuming—something to do with engaging the core?— and while I cannot vouch for the validity of this statement, I’ll say to hell with it, vacuuming is exercise, too. If you can find the sweet-spot of working out you’ll see that exercise isn’t the enemy, it’s a lifelong friend—and maybe you’ll have clean floors to boot.