In recent months I gave up dieting, FOREVER. I had quit diets before but this time I didn’t feel like I’m quitting, I feel like I’m taking my life back. Whenever I stopped a diet before I did so feeling like a big, fat failure. I also had in the back of my mind that I was taking a break and would go back to a diet once I had the energy again. That’s the thing with diets, they not only don’t work but they leave you feeling exhausted. Duh, starving your body makes you tired? Also, the hours upon hours of working out at the gym would leave me feeling sore, exhausted and just overall crappy. I would work out for HOURS, not minutes. Anything less than an hour felt like a waste of time. I will still do a weekly long run that leaves me feeling a bit tired, but only as part of my training for a race, this weekend it’s a half marathon. So the session of hours of running is now temporary, and only once a week or every other week. And I run because I LOVE running, not because I feel like I have to run off some extra calories or earn the extra beer I’m going to have later. Mid week runs are shorter, easier and leave me energized as opposed to exhausted.
I am a little leery of recent trends of these intense strength workout programs. I think it’s great that people are focusing on getting stronger but I see that the pressure for women is moving from being skinny to looking athletic (think visible abs and defined shoulders). I have heard women at work discussing not only losing weight but talking about getting toned or having definition in their arms before they can go sleeveless. I have to ask, what’s wrong with just looking like me? Why must we always be striving to look a certain way? Why does activity have to have an end result like losing weight, getting stronger, looking ripped or getting beach-body ready? I want to be active just for the sake of being active and enjoying it. Just to go for a walk to feel the sun on my skin and a cool breeze on my face or a few minutes of yoga to work out the kinks in my hips from sitting at a desk job all day? Or a run for my runner’s high that I’ve grown to love?
I hear women say that they hate exercise, but they do it because it’s good for them and it’s another should on their to-do list for the day. Is it any wonder people sign up for a gym membership in January only to cease going by mid-February? (My contempt for gyms will be for another post.)
Finding joy in movement and doing activity just for pleasure is my focus, although it wasn’t always. I will only do the activity that appeals to me and not what’s good for me. My intention is to enjoy it, and the health benefits are a nice side-effect.