The Only Way to Exercise

Did my title get your attention? It would make me roll my eyes if I saw it in Internet land. I don’t like dogma and absolute dictates. I don’t like when people can’t attempt to appreciate other perspectives, exercise included. There is value to most every kind of exercise. I think the confusion lies mostly in the “why” behind doing certain exercises. Are you looking to maximize caloric burn? Are you trying to train balance to better cope with the demands of life? Are you looking to gain muscle mass? Are you just trying to adhere to what an Instagram fitness star says do and a collective cultural pressure of what is “best?”

You’ve heard of body positivity. How about being movement positive too?

Too often, I think the goals and likes of an exerciser get crapped on when a guru proclaims, “You have to…” (fill in the blank: CrossFit, running, kettlebell, walking, weightlifting) “and everything else is not worth your time.” Another version of this is when people make condescending remarks about some form of exercise. I’ve heard people cast group fitness, treadmills, suspension training, and machine-based weightlifting into the waste-of-your-time-might-as-well-eat-sticks-of-butter-that’s-better-for-you-than-your-idea-of-exercise category, presumably because it did not fit their narrow scope of what exercise should be.

What exercise do you actually enjoy–or at least not loathe–doing? That is the best exercise! Unless you are in the tiny minority of people who just love working out in any way, then you need to find something that speaks to you.

Life is too short to grind out workouts that you absolutely despise. While it’s great to have variety, if you’re not going to adhere to your exercise program because you don’t enjoy it, then it’s useless. No exercise = no result. Some exercise = some kind of result. And what if the result is just the sheer joy of movement? I think that’s great. I think the psychological benefit alone is enough. It would be amazing if you could incorporate a few types of cardio and resistance workouts along with training balance, agility, and so on, but ultimately, your enjoyment of the process is critical.

And while I’m on that soapbox, this belief of mine goes hand in hand with diet. The best diet is the one you can live with. The one where you’re not actually “on a diet.” You can do the moose meat, green tea, detox unicorn horn diet, but do you really think you’ll keep it up? Is it really building physical and mental health? Are you creating lifelong healthy habits?

That’s what I’m ultimately getting at here. The best exercise and diet are the ones you can live with. If you start small with something you enjoy, you might then branch out and add a different type of workout or eating habit. No surprise, the small habits accumulate and grow into lifetime habits. Change is arduous. Life is hard. So why not have fun and do some kind of activity you enjoy? Why not eat within the scope of what works for your life? Chasing after someone else’s goals and narrow ideas of the right way to exercise and eat will leave you feeling like you’re not good enough.

Of course, I have my own thoughts about some best practices in general regarding diet and exercise, but it starts with you and you’re enjoyment right where you are. If you’re not intrinsically motivated and emotionally connected to some degree, the “best” diet and exercise plan ain’t gonna stick. I know, I’ve now made a proclamation and dictate myself. What a hypocrite! I hope, though, that I haven’t left you feeling exercise-shamed. Any movement is better than none. Oops, another sweeping statement. I’ll just stop now. Go do something you enjoy.

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