What I Think About When I Talk About Working Out
I don’t always think out loud. But when the time’s right, I do.
One of the most titillating conversations about life involves talking about the things we do to stay active and healthy. Such conversations aren’t frequent, but they’re certainly a mind-opener beyond the stereotypical perspective.
Stating that fitness is nothing but an accomplishment to lose weight disappoints me to my very core. If you’ve ever been a part a similar conversation that lasted for not more than 15 minutes about the importance of staying physically fit and nothing else, then I feel sorry for you.
Who I don’t feel sorry for is the person who shares such an incomplete and self-defeating perspective about fitness. It’s clear why anybody would think the way many do.
Entering a gym is a matter of “necessity” because weight loss is at stake. It is also a matter of “gaining pride” because it’s rewarding, especially for men, to prove their masculinity with muscles. While the idea of a girl or a woman working out is beyond such standards.
Practicing yoga is a matter of “importance” because our culture does well to strike a chord with regards to dealing with stress and life problems. Yes, yoga does help you deal with emotions, but it isn’t a solution in itself. There are many layers to practicing yoga or any other form of exercise that stimulates flexibility and patience.
There’s a benchmark we’d all like to meet, in one way or another. For me, it was to be able to do a split or do a long-mile run. But it’s not anymore. These are no longer goals I’d love to reach, but rather stepping stones for the purpose of doing something. The idea that it’s my purpose to do something, whatever form of physical fitness it may be, might sound vague to you. But it’s what I use, daily, to get on that treadmill, head for my aerial fitness class, or do my inversions training.
The way to do something, is to do anything that requires you to get out of your comfort zone. This thought changed the way I perceived and pursued fitness in my life. I no longer had to incorporate a lifestyle that involved giving time to fitness, it instantly adapted to mine.
You don’t have to force a fitness schedule to reap its benefits. There is a strong case against feeling physically out-of-action and languid. All I did was metamorphose the ropes a bit and the effort I put in inevitably did me.
The psychology of running has been around for years now. And by giving it deeper thought, I’ve realized that it’s non-existent if it’s taken word for word. There is a certain kind of process or transition you go through when you start running. It doesn’t unwrap itself in the first week of training, or even the first month. Running feels different when you do it with the hopes of actually changing. And running feels different when you do it because you want to do it more often. I did it for the latter, but in moments- for the former. Even so, the effort to run reflected back to the way I converse with people and to myself when I’m alone.
When I started feeding my brains with the things that should have motivated me to work out, somehow they never satisfied me. I never obsessed over the details, the tips, or the easy ways to kick-start the “life-changing” process. I was being fed the same things millions of people are and that didn’t work. So I decided to sign up for something that might seem less ordinary, but effective. At least it was in my case.
The act of simply doing it. I didn’t wait to strike a chord with some fitness instructor or diet plan. That wasn’t my purpose. What was, and still is, is to do any form of physical exercise and keep at it. Imagine you’re reading about the same topic over and over again. Not that it’s not interesting to you or you’re getting bored of it, but there will come a point when you need to shift the scales a bit. Read about something else. Some new idea, research, or essay.
I just translated the way I read into what makes me physically active. This kind of behaviorism made up the rest of my life. The expression “know thyself” is confusing and, at the same time, terrifying. Because once you start on this journey, it’s not so much about changing the way you think, but discovering the ethos that exists inside you.
What I’m going to say next is ordinary, but it’s the hard truth- working out shouldn’t be your aim to be accepted and appreciated by others, it has to be your aim to accept yourself. So is working out a good decision or is it a decision that’s right for you, as a human?
When someone tells you to start working out because you start panting when you climb the stairs or when you eat a lot of junk food and are growing a belly- that’s bad advice. It’s normal to start working out because of those reasons, but it’s time to look above and beyond such a confined purpose.
What’s dangerous advice? It’s telling someone to understand the workings of their own mind. That’s when you see yourself as yourself when you work out and not how you want the world to look at you. There’s a slow shift of self-image, the kind that contradicts your effort along the way. And this contradiction cannot be predicted or explained, it’s only felt. That significant mental and physical effort you make for your physical set-up isn’t only physical. It leads to unexpected discoveries and revisions, even emotionally.
The best thing about working out is that you can make up your own purpose of doing so. It doesn’t have to be only one thing or one motive. We live stressful lives, all of us do, and having such options that force us to break that shell, step out, and reflect our choices is what we truly care about. Even if we are a little late at realizing it.
And running along with the fact that there’s a deeper problem (or gift?) to our lifestyle — and that is change — we set up these unrealistic objectives to beat them down and rise above. And that’s precisely what makes us bear a grudge against the idea of working out and living a healthy life.