I’ve been pondering this question for some time now but haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around how to phrase it. "View" is about the only thing I could come up with. Let me explain as I explore my own personal views of exercise through the years. I can easily group them into 3 phases…
Phase 1: Exercise because I have to
All during my 15 years of failed diet attempts (or short term successes) I had the mentality that the only thing exercise was good for was weight loss and weight loss alone. The only reason people exercised was to burn more calories, right? I did not understand people who ran on vacation, enjoyed fitness classes or even those that played sports.
During this phase I would halfheartedly attempt to workout because that’s what you are "suppose to do". I’d plan to wake up early to walk but never get out of bed. I’d go to the gym but not really workout. I kind of liked the idea of exercising because I thought it would help me lose weight but didn’t really get it or have the desire/stamina to stick with any sort of routine.
Phase 2: Exercise through everyday activities.
I entered my next phase after having my son and joining Weight Watchers. This phase lasted throughout the entire time I lost all the weight and about a year afterwards. My mindset was completely different at this point. I accepted that I was NOT an exerciser. I decided that if I was going to lose weight I was going to have to do it on my terms and my terms did NOT include a gym membership or any home equipment.
I simply decided it was time to get more active. Active was a word I could live with. It’s more appealing then exercise. Exercise is for those crazy athletic people. Staying active is for us ‘normal’ people. I went for walks around my neighborhood after dinner, looked for nature trails in my area, started taking the stairs, danced around my living room with my son and simply looked for reasons not to sit on the couch. That’s how I "stayed active."
Phase 3: Exercising because I want to.
Phase 2 slowing began to morph into phase 3. After losing the weight (on my terms I might add) and staying active my body seemed to want more. Walks were getting too easy, and frankly, boring. Taking the stairs was now a habit and dancing with a toddler is different then dancing with a baby. ;)
So I decided to try this whole gym idea out. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. I started slow, a step class here, some weight lifting there. Because I wasn’t working out to lose weight my mind was freed up to measure progress in other ways. Could I make it through a whole step class without stopping? Was I able to lift more weight then last time? Do more reps?
I started to really enjoy my time at the gym and as a working mom it was about the only time I took. That hour 3-4 days a week became an outlet. Something I did for me and me alone. No toddler. No husband. No phone. No email. Just me and my thoughts. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I’m sure other moms will understand. ;)
Anyway, the mind shift from phase 1 to phase 3 didn’t happen overnight and I’m not sure it could have. I needed the transition period in between. I needed to stop viewing exercising as merely a way to lose weight, a chore or a punishment just because I was fat. When I separate exercise from weight loss (diet) I had much more success. For me, viewing exercise as a seperate activity away from my weight loss efforts helped me see it in a new light.
So I’m curious, can you relate to any of my phases? How do YOU view exercise?