First and foremost. I hate the word. Exercise.
The very thought makes me cringe, reminding me of when I was small and everyone wanted to get a little bit of “exercise” by going for a bike ride around the block. The end result was pain, sweat, exhaustion. To me, exercise always = torture.
And then I grew up. And on came the freshman
fifteen twenty. I decided that maybe the time had come that I could use some torture in my life.
I tortured myself through morning sit-ups, as a friend and I would conjure up motivational phrases in an effort to convince ourselves that this was entirely worth it. Later in the day, I tortured myself some more, courtesy of the dreadmill.
I even tortured myself through boring salads (i.e., limpy iceberg, tomato, cucumber) until I found out that the cafeteria was adding extra protein powder to all the greens, which explained why the more salad I ate, the more weight I gained (go figure.)
Torture, torture, torture.
I suppose you could call it an epiphany, the day that I decided that it was pretty stupid to be pushing my body through all the exercises that I hated. I knew plenty of girls who loved working out at a very high intensity and that’s GREAT! But that wasn’t me. I couldn’t bring myself to love it no matter how hard I tried. Besides, I realized that what I truly wanted was not found on the covers of magazines. It wasn’t found on a Nike advertisement (sure I felt strong, but I looked nothing like those women!) What I truly wanted was to be happy. To love my body through high and low. To respect myself in the same way that I respected others.
What I truly wanted was to stop fighting my body. To finally be at peace.
After coming to this conclusion, I had to remind myself that there was life beyond sit-ups and boring salads.
First and foremost, I had to allow myself days of complete rest – a reminder that it was okay to just…stop. And then I had to find movement that appealed to me, not just because it was going to burn more calories in less time. It wasn’t an overnight thing; it was a slow process. Sometimes I still have to step back and ask myself, “Sarah, why are you running?” If I ever feel that running becomes tiring or that I can’t bear the thought of heading out for yet another run, I reevaluate and let my body rest.
In a nut-shell…
Exercise = torture.
Running = liberation.
There is some form of movement that makes us each feel happy and free. Dancing, yoga, biking, walking, running.
Once you find your favorite form of movement and learn to love how your body feels while doing it, the word “exercise” won’t cross your lips. You’ll just be playing. And absolutely loving it.