Why It’s OK to Hate Exercise (and a Weight Loss Update)
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!
I agree, you don’t have to love exercise, but you have to do it. I would also add that there are so many different forms of exercise that pretty much everyone should find something they don’t dislike quite as much or even like. 🙂
I also think just moving more throughout the day makes a big difference. I now strive to walk 12,000 steps a day (about 6 miles), and it has made a huge difference. It’s not easy and requires quite a bit of planning and there is always a time, pretty much every day, when I have to make myself go for another walk. But I’m happy that I sit less (and take breaks much more frequently; I used to sit for hours without getting up).
And good job on the weight loss! It certainly isn’t easy…
Thanks, Andrea! And I completely agree about the different forms of exercise – I’ve thought about having more exercise-focused posts on here. Your step count is an inspiration!
Funny how my Mom DETESTS celery. It’s not a joke with her!! I guess she isn’t the only one.
I don’t mind exercise at all…I try to incorporate it all day, beginning with yoga and walking to and from work, as well as 15 minutes at lunch.
Great job on the weight loss Jessie!
Thanks, Ameena! I’m glad it’s not just me with the celery :O
I’ve just changed jobs and because I now have a desk job I definitely noticed that I need to start properly exercising! Exercing definitely works better when the weather is warm.
i feel the same way about celery…unless some good dip is involved, thats different 🙂 Congrats on the weight loss!
Very true and good words Jessie. It has been even harder to exercise with a baby at home, but I make a point of doing it (even though I don’t love it) Sometimes that means I dance around my kitchen with her in my arms. Sometimes I just do a series of squats, push-ups, and crunches. Sometimes I take a long two mile walk. It isn’t my whole life but it is a good and healthy part of it! Thank you for sharing so honestly with us today!
In Korea I used to be on my feet for most of the day (no car! very active kids to teach!) and portion sizes were smaller than in America…so I definitely had to readjust and incorporate more deliberate exercise and more mindful eating into this new lifestyle. Luckily, the climate here allows for year-round tennis, which is so fun it doesn’t feel like exercise.
Thanks for sharing this important message, Jessie! I hope we can all invest in our health and support the people around us so they can also feel great 🙂 It’s definitely a conscious, intentional decision that has to be made, and it’s easier to do when there are lovely people like you for inspiration!
Jessie, what if you didn’t hate exercise completely? Obviously impossible. But still.
I’ve discovered that exercise has a soft side (e.g. how to get motivated, and how to conquer boredom) and a hard side (e.g. what routine to use for solid abs, and which exercises reduce weight).
First, set some goals. Don’t go at it blind. Write out what you want from exercise and write with feeling.
Second, use variety and conquer boredom. If you don’t like exercising in mid-morning, change, and try late afternoon. Change every week if you want. If you don’t like exercising alone, change, and find a partner, or listen to music, or get help from an expert.
Third, find people to help. Don’t workout alone–get a partner. Call a buddy who likes to exercise or seek a qualified trainer. Find people who are willing and able to help and keep them close to you.
Consider interval training. If you’re a healthy adult, forget spending an hour or two working out every day–life’s too short. Interval training, when done correctly, has a greater impact than long-boring workouts, and it takes less time too.
Well done on the weight loss! With exercise you have to find your thing where it doesn’t feel like your actually exercising- if that makes sense! I don’t mind exercise, I like yoga and walking and anything else that is not too strenuous.
I love this post. It is definitely hard to know what it’s like to have to work to be healthy/lose weight unless you’ve gone through it! And I’m glad you fought for your health and happiness.
I don’t like exercising, and it’s important to exercise to keep your body healthy and strong as well as eating well! Aww your dog photos are cheering me up 😉 I love this statement: “I’d like to return to my comfortable weight range not because of appearance, but because of my current and future health. I am happy with my appearance. I want to feel better and live healthy.” And well done on the weight loss, Jessie, I’m happy that you know you did it just for health and happiness! I also wrote you a short e-mail!