In the past couple of days, I’ve had to come up head-to-head with many of my old beliefs about fitness and training, and reassess where I stand when it comes to exercise.
As a person with an exercise addiction, a former bodybuilding aspirant, a certified personal trainer, a health coach, a chronic pain sufferer, and someone who just loves to get out and move, my relationship with exercise is not an easy one to categorize.
I know that things can get kind of tangled when talking about fitness–is it about weight loss? Aesthetic goals? Strength? Power? Athletic performance? Functional movement? Fun? Pain?
The answer is…I don’t know. And I don’t think anyone does know. Because we’re all different, and we all have different goals, different needs, different capabilities, and different anatomies.
For example, I will never be able to swim. (I just can’t get the breathing down.) No matter how hard I try, Eagle Pose and padahastasana are going to be mostly impossible for me because I have long legs and a short torso–but I still get compliments on my Rabbit. I’m a so-so cross country runner, but the last .1 mile sprint of a 5K is my bitch. Squatting sucks due to major ankle mobility issues, but I love lifting weights, so I’m going to keep working on it. And I will always rock the battle ropes because my shoulders are unnecessarily developed (a blessing and a curse–I would have been great in the 80s). My goals, my abilities, my fitness level will change as I grow and change…and I may never be an athlete, a competitive bodybuilder, an advanced yogi, etc…but I can enjoy the things I learn about my body while participating in these sports and enjoying these activities.
When it comes to overcoming addiction, avoiding injury, and making fitness a priority but not a punishment, it helps to “make a fearless inventory” (borrowing some 12 step language here, even though I’m not currently affiliated with a 12 step program) to discover the truth behind why we do what we do. We have to be willing to be openminded and to accept that our thinking may be influenced by accumulated prejudices, societally shaped beliefs, negative thought patterns, and even bad influences from the people with whom we associate.
I know I still have a lot of work to do in coming to terms with my exercise addiction. I know that I owe myself a lot of forgiveness for the years I spent beating myself up, trying to fit an ideal. I know that I have a lot of acceptance to work on when it comes to acknowledging both my limitations and my strengths. And I know that I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to reconciling my competitive, perfectionist nature with my goals in the gym.
In today’s podcast with Theresa Goodrich, a personal trainer in NYC, we talk a lot about what it means to come to terms with your definition of fitness–and how to surround yourself with the people and the practices that will make fitness a healthy addition (not addiction!) to your life.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to eat an elephant or breathe like a crocodile (or you just want to have a more healthful connection with your fit, human body), then today’s podcast is for you.