You don’t need to look closely at this website to discover I strongly dislike exercise. I don’t hate it, exactly (I reserve that word for celery, self-absorption, and driving twenty miles per hour under the speed limit in the passing lane); it’s more of a struggle against inertia. Despite paying lavish attention to healthy food, I rarely mention exercise. If I do, it’s usually in the context of “gosh, these bulk items we bought in unnecessarily large quantities are certainly heavy when I haul them all at once.”
“But, wait!” you cry. “Achieving and maintaining good health is part of your job as a dietitian. You must like exercise!”
There’s no ifs, ands, or musts about it: I was never one of those people who enjoy trying the latest workout or achieving an exercise glow.
I wish, Maddles. I wish.
So, why is the title of this post “Why it’s OK to hate exercise”? Because hating exercise allows us to appreciate good health.
You know that expression about how the best things in life are worth working for? (Clearly I don’t, or I would have set it off in fancy quote marks or something.) Every time you exercise, you are investing in your current and future health. This investment is even better than investing in the stock market: you’ll never lose this venture. All the dividends go to you and to your family and friends who will enjoy your awesome company that much longer.
That brings me to my next truth: Good health is not a given. This point is so important, I’ll set it off in fancy italics:
Good health takes work.
Most of us are lucky enough to begin our lives with good health, but maintaining it takes work. Unfortunately, we live in a society that looks for quick fixes, solutions where we lose 20 pounds without exercise or changing the way we eat. Not only do these quick fixes not work (and if you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you that), they push us to take good health for granted. Why bother with a healthy diet and exercise if there’s a shortcut?
I’m here to tell you: there is no shortcut. That statement will make me unpopular, but it’s true. As I wrote on my 28th birthday, it’s okay to hate exercise. If you’re an able-bodied person, it’s not okay to use that as an excuse to sit around all day. If you want to achieve and maintain good health, you must exercise and eat well.
Why say all this now? I actually began this post back in November, shortly before our lives took a crazy left turn. This post was meant to be a weight loss update and expanded into this behemoth instead. As you may recall, I vowed last May to bring myself comfortably back into my healthy weight range — a range I had recently vacated as a result of stress and poor choices. See the linked post for a thorough discussion of weight and weight loss.
To keep this story short, I’ll reveal the conclusion right away: I’ve lost a comfortable amount of weight since last May. About seven to eight pounds, to be not-quite exact. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright impossible at times. I’m pretty set in my ways when it comes to food, and changing up my eating patterns took hard work (see what I did there?). In a way, I’m happy this weight loss journey has been difficult. Having never made a conscious effort to lose weight before, I didn’t fully appreciate how difficult it is for some of my clients.
(In case you’re wondering, I lost weight by — yup — eating less and exercising. Go figure. The trick was to be mindful about it and make conscious choices.)
Now, I don’t want to create despair amongst my dear readers. There are ways to make achieving and maintaining good health easier while still appreciating it. That’s where health care professionals like dietitians come in. I work with many clients who have just about given up on losing weight, getting their blood sugars under control, getting fit, etc. Having someone on your side who can help you figure out how to make things easier is an incredibly powerful tool. So, chat with your local dietitian. She or he would be happy to help.
Take care, dear reader. I’m off to invest in my health!