I have never been one that enjoyed exercising. To get on a treadmill or go to a class has always seemed just necessity instead of something I would describe as fun. There are a litany of other things I’d rather do than scan mindlessly at a tv while I walk or have an instructor shouting out moves I can’t follow and feel goofy doing. To me the best exercise is when it happens without being planned, like a walk in the park with my family or going to the pool to swim and play. Working out well it sounds like work and I have enough of that in my life as it is.
At the start of the social distancing in early 2020 I started working out with a personal trainer virtually. It was free through the job I had at the time and I was curious. This was part boredom from social distancing and part trying to be constructive with new found time on my hands. By November I had quit the trainer because my job had turned stressful and I couldn’t keep our scheduled workouts any longer due to longer work hours. It was the time I should have been exercising due to the stress but it was more stress to try and keep up with it on top of everything else. In June of this year I changed jobs and loss access to this program too which further complicated trying to restart something.
What I realized was even though I didn’t enjoy working out and would dread the sessions at times I did enjoy the connection with it. I liked moving my body and my trainer was savvy enough to give me enough variety to keep my curiosity going. She didn’t make it ridiculously hard yet gave me enough of a challenge that I found myself asking for different things to be added to it to try. Yes I actually asked her for things, something I never even considered before. When I stopped being able to work out with her I missed the connection of not only her help and friendly encouragement but also the dedicated time I spent with her most evenings after work. I felt like I was in this weird space of almost saying I missed exercising.
As I began a new job in June I found myself gravitating towards our home workout area to use the treadmill. I popped in my earbuds and listened to the Outlander audio book, an all time favorite series of mine. Before I knew it I had walked 30 minutes and it wasn’t that hard. The next day I did it again. Nothing fast either, just a leisurely walk listening to Davina Porter tell the story of Outlander in my head as my feet moved along the belt. When the second week of this started I chided myself for falling into a routine. Maybe I was an exerciser after all. Still unwilling to openly admit that I continued walking and tracking my daily step count on my tracker and kept quiet about what I was doing.
This wasn’t entirely new for me, this love-hate of starting to work out. The issue is always though keeping it up when things get busy or I lose interest. It is also the part where I don’t see any results and frustratingly give up. I had no expectations this time and set no demands on myself when it came to walking on the treadmill. I simply did it every day for 30 to 45 minutes using it as the time to listen to the audio books and podcasts I enjoyed. Most of the time I didn’t even turn on the lights in the room and instead chose to walk in the lowering light coming in from the windows. A month had now past and I was still doing this most days.
This was new for me. Unchartered territory where I was doing something without an appointment with a trainer, scolding myself for not wanting to do it and not giving up yet. Maybe it was the audiobooks because I do truly love that Outlander series. If that was what did it I am forever grateful to it but I think it was something deeper after a while. What I learned with my trainer was it didn’t need to be an intense, dripping sweat can’t move the next day workout to count. I could go easy on myself and move in a way that felt good. Right now walking felt good. It was something I looked forward to at the end of the work day as a way to stretch and disconnect from being in meetings. It was a place to escape into a story that I would otherwise tell myself I didn’t have time to read or listen to.
I wasn’t looking to build an elaborate workout routine and really have no plans as to what happens next. To me, it is an exploration of what feels good and mapping out in this unchartered area of my life what I can do to be more active. Being one that never gravitated towards the workout trends and stinky gyms I liked not having the pressure placed on me for obligation and expectations in what I was doing. I just called it going for a walk without the intensity of goals or even wanting to lose weight. I never stepped on a scale at this time either. I just walked.
Part of living naturally I have found is finding these activities that speak to us. They don’t feel restrictive, limited and hard. We gravitate towards them because we want them. It gradually becomes part of our routine because it feels good to us and provides what we need. Building in these small shifts in our daily life is what I believe promotes larger changes we want to make. I think too often we simply jump into the deep end and then find frustration when results are not happening. My approach has been to instead look at what I feeling and what feels best and do more of that. Our mind and body aligned in movement feels a lot more rewarding than punishing our body through a workout because we ate a donut.
It was a bridge I was trying to build between my own mind and body on this journey. One where I could work with more of myself to achieve goals instead of seeing my body and mind as separate push-pull elements. I think that’s why it worked this time or at least is working for now. I’m just walking, listening to an audiobook and taking a little time for myself every day. Seems natural enough right?
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