Triumph. Determination. Motivation. These are the words that are closely related to the ideal picture of exercise.
Although, behind any picture, thoughts and feelings can be hidden. Struggle. Failure. Hopeless. Unfortunately, these words capture the actualization of what is circulating within fitness. People are not succeeding with exercise, and in large part due to the false expectation of its effects. Exercise is not a solution to an ideal self-image.
Exercise can be effective on a short-term basis, but what is the affect it puts onto your daily lifestyle? For most, it is a hassle, or another “thing” to do. It’s something that sounds nice, but also sounds like a lot of strain to accomplish. Not being worth the effort.
What is exercise good for? What is the goal then?
When I was very young I began running. It was a struggle and I felt it. Wrestling season was coming around, and my goal was to do well that year, so I stuck with it. It’s now etched into my memory the day that it felt easy. Experiencing for the first time a “runners high,” where it felt like I could run for hours.
That day I was hooked on running, but it didn’t immediately make me a better wrestler. It simply solidified a pleasurable experience of feeling good about myself. This is the purpose of exercise. To actually begin to feel yourself out. To get a real picture, or tangible feeling, of how physically alive you are.
In the beginning, we tell ourselves very quietly that we can’t be happy until… “I lose the weight,” “I run X amount of hours,” or “I can do this.” We do not give ourselves permission to feel good. How can the end result of your goal create this outcome if you self-sabotage the feeling of it at the start?
Very delicately, we need to allow ourselves to be happy with our current state of health. Breathing? Have an appetite? Ability to walk? You can be grateful for this.
Embracing the struggle is the early stage of triumph. Where there is desire to accomplish a goal, there is also the potential to chase it. The solution is in the pursuit of acceptance.
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes fitness columns for the Record-Herald.