My Sad History With Exercise, Plus A Plea For Advice On How To Motivate To Work Out
There are a lot of things in this world that I am interested in learning how to do. Play my ukulele! Become fluent in Italian! Floral arrangement! Learning to appreciate the music of Phish! I’m generally adventurous. But there has been one thing I just have never been able to get down with.
I absolutely hate to exercise.
Hate may be the wrong word, actually. I find exercising to be the single most boring activity in the world. But at 32, I recognize I should probably A) really start caring about “being in shape,” and B) actually commit to it in some way that is actually attainable for me.
Let me be clear. I have never, ever, ever in my life been really enthusiastic about any form of exercise. This is not a phase. “Lounging around” is basically my lifestyle. As a kid, I took ballet. I liked it. I did not love it enough to continue for any sufficient length of time in order to develop genuine talent. I also played softball because I was obsessed with watching baseball. I quickly discovered that watching baseball is a million times more fun to me than playing it because watching it involves a couch and snacks and having my shoes off. In phys. ed. I was the kid who always just walked laps around the track rather than attempting to do it in any sort of competitive time frame. I walked around the track over and over, gossiping with my friends, until my gym teacher said it was time for next period.
I went to a performing arts high school and therefore was mercifully spared having to participate in gym. I did, however, have to fulfill a phys. ed. requirement and as it was a performing arts school, there was a bevy of dance options available. I took flamenco which was really more of a work out for my wrist muscles as I tried and failed to learn to play the castinettes.
I’ve always been a relatively thin person, so I suppose it was this “blessing” that allowed me to ignore the importance of frequent physical activity throughout my formative years. In exchange for being of modest weight, Mother Nature gave me more than my share of horrible, huge, bright red acne and so my hours in front of the mirror were devoted to powdering my skin with CoverGirl and praying for a miracle. All of this, coupled with my parents being creative, non-competitive types who were fine with me spending hours in my bedroom reading rather than outside rough housing with other kids, made me into the adult I am today who absolutely has zero interest in sweating via physical activity.
But I have tried! “Start working out” has been at the top of my New Year’s resolution list for, oh, I dunno, 10 years running? And I have successfully gone through short phases of actually committing to some sort of exercise. There was the time I tried to learn how to run and made my roommate coach me at 7 a.m. every morning for three weeks at the track near our apartment. I eventually was able to run a mile without collapsing but I never achieved that runner’s high that every asshole running fanatic talks about. So I gave up on running, because if I wasn’t going to achieve that high, I knew it would always be a struggle and not the fitness activity for me.
I have been a member at various gyms! I have worked the elliptical and squeezed the weights between my thighs and pulled that cord thingy behind my back to work something called a tricep. I was clever and I did these things when there was exciting television on so that I would be forced to stay on that damn machine for the full hour or risk missing something crucial on “The Bachelor.” But I was reminded during each and every commercial break just how much I hated being on that machine and how bored I was and how I would so much rather being doing anything else. So I stopped going to the gym and now enjoy “The Bachelor” in a seated position on my couch.
Dance classes? Oh I’ve tried them. I took modern dance for a couple semesters in college and was vividly aware that I had the worst rhythm and flow and ease in the movements than anyone else in class. The highlight of taking modern dance was choreographing my own routine to The Pixies “Where Is My Mind?” in which all of my movements were purposefully jerky and slow; my own version of the Robot, essentially. I did not break a sweat.
The best time I have ever had exercising was when I learned to surf in Costa Rica a couple summers ago. Unfortunately, I do not live in Costa Rica and the beach is an hour train ride away. In short, surfing is something I can do on vacation, which, by the way, I never take.
Now for the good news and the area in which I need your help. The closest I’ve come to genuinely liking exercise (aside from that one time I surfed in Costa Rica) has been in yoga. Specifically, not super hard yoga. I did Bikram yoga for a couple months and I honestly cannot handle the smell again and I really wasn’t into the challenge of it. I am not one of those people who needs to overcome some major feat in order to feel awesome. I’m pretty great at my job and people like me and that’s good enough for my self-esteem, thanks.
But the great thing is, even my chill, not that challenging way of doing yoga makes me sweat and my body looks leaner and healthier and I feel like I walk taller. I also feel so goddamn good after yoga, like my mind — which, thanks to ADD/OCD, is constantly going going going — is calmer. It is the one form of exercise that I feel I could do with regularity and not get bored of, that would result in a soothed mind and a strong, rockin’ body. And it’s like I was born to do it — the other day a commenter complimented me on my extremely open hips. That comes naturally! Imagine how open they would be if I actually, like, worked on opening them!
The problem is getting myself there. I get up too early as it is to hit a class before work. I don’t even really take a lunch break — blogging never stops! — so jetting out for an hour of downward dog midday really isn’t an option. After work and the weekends is where it’s at. I can go then. I just need to make myself, to find a way to really remember how good I feel after to override the malaise I feel before. By the end of the day I’m tired. I want to go home and see my dog and make dinner and watch “Downton Abbey” in the bathtub. But my New Year, New You resolution is this: three times a week, I need to go to yoga. One of those can be on the weekend and it will be difficult to find an excuse not to. It’s during the week that I will struggle and for that, I need your advice…
How in the hell do YOU motivate to work out after a long day at work when there are so many more relaxing and interesting things you could do instead? Seriously, give me your tips and I will try them and over the course of the next month will update you on what works and what doesn’t. And with that, I bid you an enthusiastic “Namaste!”