NO PAIN NO GAIN & NO FUN
HOW CAN EXERCISE NOT SUCK?
CAN EXERCISE BE MORE THAN JUST A CHORE YOU DO BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU?
As I see it, life’s activities fall into 3 categories:
1) Things you love to do
2) Things you do because you have to
3) Things you do because they’re good for you
Things you love to do
For me, that would be the combo of binging on something salty, red wine, and Netflix (in my PJs).
Things you do because you have to
Anything involving food on the table and a roof over your head. That would be: working, paying the bills and cleaning the perpetual trail of dishes, towels, and socks that is my teenager’s trademark. You should see his biohazard site bedroom!
Things you do because they’re good for you
Now here’s where it gets a little more complicated for me. Sometimes I find it hard to discern between the stuff I force myself to do for the right reasons – because it’s good for me – and things I legitimately shouldn’t do because I simply don’t like doing them! I practically break out in hives before doing new, unfamiliar and seemingly unpleasant things.
We can’t JUST do the things we are good at
So, when do I give myself permission to say no? Not that often. Why? Am I a masochist? -Maybe. My honeymoon in India and my yearly canoe trips with the girls are prime examples of things I did/do because I’m ‘supposed’ to enjoy them like most normal people do.
In retrospect, what I dread doing often turns out to be fun, enlightening and gratifying. Upon reflection, what I imagine in my head, isn’t usually as scary or uncomfortable as I think it will be. Let’s face it, growing and evolving is better than remaining stagnant… (for a whole lot more on that topic, check out my ‘Reinvent Yourself’ series) And that, my friends, explains why I often torment myself.
So, knowing all that about myself, I especially try not to listen to the inner dialogue when it comes to exercise because I know I just have to get it done. Yah, it’s good for you. But I still don’t like it, so the faster I can get it over with, the better. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that get me off my butt and out the door…maybe they can help you too:
Food & Vanity
For as long as I can remember, my motivation to exercise was to be able to eat. I hate depriving myself in the food department but I still want to be able to zip up my jeans! This is where vanity comes in. Never underestimate the importance of a good form fitting workout outfit. 🙂 Sound shallow? It is. But, if I am virtuous enough to get out there and exercise, then I figure I owe it to myself to witness any progress and celebrate hard work by looking in the mirror and liking what I see. (I also happen to like shopping)
Strength In Numbers
Whenever possible, I made an effort to go to the gym in a posse from the office at lunchtime. I knew I needed the ‘group guilt’ to get me out there. Plus, misery loves company. My first exercise ‘community’ was weekend aerobics at the Dunfield club a million years ago. I didn’t dread going to classes as much because there was something really special about seeing the same familiar faces every week. These were my exercise peeps! Not to mention that the combination of great choreography, fab music and a killer sense of humour made Barb Rosenberg’s classes a fixture in my schedule. She runs her own personal training business and you can still find her teaching at Track Fitness and Ultimate Athletics Club! (check out her Instagram here)
About a year and a half ago, I decided to take up running. Partly because of Rich Roll, my hero ultra-marathoner and favourite podcast host, but, mostly because of my pal Judy Venis. She was already a yogi and untouchable as a cyclist. So, when she decided to take up running, I took note. She is fit, fast and disciplined. I was never any good on a bike, but maybe her new found passion and enthusiasm for running could rub off on me? The added bonus (and my favourite part to this day) is that we would hang out more. So, what the heck, I decided to take it up as well. I knew I was committed when I went shopping for running gear (tip: when you spend some cash, that helps make you accountable!)
I also joined my first half marathon group at the Running Room and then another one called “MBP Run Faster”. That opened up a whole new world of friendship and accountability (shout out to coaches Lucia Mahoney and Megan Brown check out the MB Performance Facebook page here). If you want to be sure you are going to consistently get out there, especially in the winter, join a group. And, when you commit to a race, you have a goal to work towards. So far, I’ve done a couple of half marathons and 10k races and I’m doing the Ragnar Cobourg to Niagara Falls 24 hour relay race at the end of May with my new friends. Races are actually fun!
The best part about running is that even though it’s still exercise and a struggle each and every time, I do notice that my body is leaner (not easy at this age!) and I feel really healthy and good. The euphoria, relief, gratitude, pride and a sense of accomplishment when it’s over is amazing and nothing beats the sense of connection you make with people, nature and to yourself.