Is Your Workout Punishment or Ecstasy?
Why are you working out, and what is the mind-set you take with you through your practice?
- Is sweating and working hard enjoyable and satisfying, or is it a horrible endurance?
- Are you pushing up against your threshold and disregarding what your body is safely capable of?
- Are you mentally flogging yourself as you work out? “Why aren’t you thinner, firmer, stronger, faster, younger?”
- Is it simply another task to rush through, so you can check it off of your list of what you did that day?
Many people say that if they lived a Groundhog Day existence where consequence was impossible, they would eat donuts, drink whiskey, and smoke all day long. They only exercise as a counterbalance to the rest of their life—a sort of personal triage to right the damage they self inflict. They will use the word “balanced” when they explain this, rather than the more appropriate “personal sabotage.”
Some people love the challenge of triathlons, extreme sports, and achieving personal bests and then beating them. They love the competitive nature with self and others. That is cool. That works for some people. If I even get a whiff of competition in the air, I run screaming in the other direction.
I simply enjoy feeling myself in my body. Moving for the sake of moving. Refining form and alignment.
Flexing my feet, feeling my calf muscles, raising my arms, luxuriating in my obliques: I love that feeling.
My body alive, supple, strong. An estate to inhabit year-round, instead of functioning as a squatter on the outskirts of the property with no real connection to the land it sits on.
- I go to barre class and Pilates and dance, because I love how my body feels while I am doing it.
- I have fun.
- I swear and howl and burst into laughter when it gets really intense.
- I make sure my body posture is in correct alignment so I keep myself safe.
- I breathe.
Sync my inhales and exhales with the movements. Modify when necessary. Work with the body I have now, not punish it for how it is not. For the most part, I have never been stronger.
There was recently a comedy special on Netflix called Nanette and at one point she states that no girl at 17 has ever been in her prime. This comment is in regard to Picasso at 42 being with a girl of 17 and claiming the attraction was that they were both “in their prime.” Don’t even get me started …
We will never be 17 again, but who the hell wants that? Or 20, or 30, or 40 for that matter?
We build strength and stamina from where we are right now, not in trying to recapture what and where we used to be.
Where we are now does not need to mean less than. Old. Too late. We bring a lifetime to where we are now. Sometimes that means we slow down a little, sometimes that means we are just getting started, sometimes it brings wisdom that makes for a new kind of strength.
Go for the burn and the gusto and the laugh. Sweat and work hard because it pleases you. Because you are alive and in a body, and for me that is a gift and not a punishment.