Exercise is a Privilege, Not a Chore
I can be very hard on myself.
I have very high expectations of myself, so if I fall short of those expectations I tend to get very mad at myself and might even (definitely) curse myself out mentally. Also verbally. In public.
This happens mostly during my workouts. It can be from missing a lift with a weight I know I can lift, or my form suffering long before I feel like I should be winded. This also happens during FIFA when I’m not winning.
I know I’m not the only one who does this. Probably.
I also know it’s not a healthy behavior.
We expect to be constantly striving towards our idea of perfection, or even our idealized version of ourselves.
Faster, stronger, better looking.
When we hit a wall in the gym the only person to blame is ourselves (only children and college students blame other people). That blame can very easily turn into negativity or flat out “fuck it-itis”.
Something we always forget when we’re in a bout of this “fuck-it-itis” is that exercise is supposed to be fun.
Exercising is basically play for adults. Like kids do, on a playground. Except we don’t go to a playground, we go to the gym.
We live in a country where we are blessed enough to perform physical labor for the sheer act of self-improvement.
Think about that for a minute.
You don’t have to lift heavy things in order to find food to eat, you don’t have to run away from something trying to kill you.
You get to lift heavy things and run fast in order to make yourself better.
It’s really a crazy thing.
Throughout human history acts of physical exertion were needed to survive. Now we do them for fun.
If this is the case- why do we get so stressed about it?
We take everything too seriously. We place added importance on the small things in our workout, like the weight of the dumbbells we use for lateral raises. We get bogged down in these details, overanalyze and let it suck our enjoyment out of exercise.
We also want to be fit and happy now. We don’t want to have to work or wait for it. We want the instant gratification of 1,000 likes on our latest gym selfie. We don’t want to master the process, we just want the results.
Exercising is great. It’s good for you and you can definitely use the lessons you learn in the weight room to become a better person.
But it’s not life or death.
It’s not even a battle. It's just you trying to get better.
The one way that I know to combat this potentially negative situation is to re-instill a sense of play into your workout.
You don’t even have to change the arrangement of your schedule, programming or anything. All you have to do is remind yourself that THIS IS FUN.
Have to deadlift on Monday? Sweet. Make it fun. You get to pick up something heavy for the sheer challenge of it. It’s not a giant rock that’s crushing your daughter, it’s a barbell that you chose to load up with weight.
What’s the worst case scenario? You put too much weight on the bar and can’t lift it?
No one dies, no one gets hurt. You just take a plate off. Why are you so stressed about these things?
We get so caught up in being perfect NOW and wanting to hit our goal weight NOW that we forget to enjoy the process. There are some cheesy lines about the journey being more important than the destination. That’s true depending on the destination. What they neglect to mention is that the journey is always more fun than the destination.
Sam and Frodo had more fun on their way to Mordor than they did in Mordor. I mean, dude lost a finger once he got there.
The most important traits needed for constant self-improvement are discipline and consistency.
Not every workout or rep is going to be perfect. Some days you are going to feel like crap. You need to learn to enjoy those crappy days.
If you focus on the journey instead of the destination you will be less stressed, more consistent and will reach your goal quicker. Just remind yourself constantly that you are in a historically privileged position and you get to exercise for fun. You’re not being drafted to fight barbarians, you’re not exercising so you can outrun the Inquisition.
You’re exercising so you can look and feel better. You need to recognise how awesome that is.
Now let me be clear. I am not saying you should sacrifice intensity, work ethic and discipline in the name of fun. What I am saying is that you should stop stressing yourself out about the minutiae of your workouts.
There is no need to heap loads of pressure on yourself in regards to exercise. If you show up, work hard and sweat you are going to progress and look better.
Have fun and stop taking selfies in between sets.