And now for my own take on the Charles Dickens classic….just kidding, I only wanted to use the title. Lately I’ve been thinking about return on investment when it comes to fitness. It seems, when it comes to our bodies, humans can be a little unrealistic. We get these ideals in our heads about what our bodies should look and/or feel like and get very attached to these ideals (thanks mainstream media!). We choose routines based on these ideals and a few things might happen:
1.) We get frustrated and quit because change isn’t happening as quickly as we wish
2.) We see some change but don’t want to continue on with the routine because the change is not dramatic enough
3.) We (rarely) reach our ideal but (usually) do not want to keep living the lifestyle it takes to maintain said ideal
The problem with choosing a fitness routine based on an unrealistic ideal (other than it is unrealistic) is that it places too much emphasis on the future and not enough emphasis on the now. Having a goal isn’t the problem, feeling like you won’t be ok until you reach that goal is. Fitness isn’t about reaching some ideal and then basking in the glory of your perfect body forever. It is a messy, spiraling, up, down, and all around journey. There are injuries, illnesses, good days, and bad days. We get off track, get back on track, totally lose sight of the track, then get back on again. We age, have kids, change jobs, change cities, and change lifestyles. It’s not about a single routine, it’s about an entire relationship.
So how can you strengthen your relationship to your own body? The following are a few ideas to create a sustainable fitness lifestyle:
-Move every day: Like any relationship, the one with your body takes attention. You wouldn’t neglect your kids for day, you wouldn’t neglect your spouse for a day, and you probably wouldn’t neglect your pet for a day. Give yourself that same care. Move your body each and every day in a way that helps you connect positively to it.
-Find your energy source: Most of us keep our hand in several modalities when it comes to fitness, and there are many benefits to being a well-rounded active individual. Most of us also have one thing that we prefer above all the others. Something that recharges the body as if we were a plug and this activity an outlet. Whether it is dancing, running, lying on the floor stretching, or jumping on a trampoline, make sure you do that thing as often as you can. Keep training your body that movement is pleasure and this feeling will expand to other activities as well.
-Slow it down: Next time you find yourself frustrated with your body, take a deep breath and consciously slow down. Recognize the feeling of your muscles working, the dexterity of your joints, the air moving in and out of your lungs. Notice, even when things in the body are imperfect, how much is going right to keep you mobile and alive. Then, give yourself a freakin’ break! Perfection is overrated anyway…
Slow and steady progress wins the race!