Exercise Resistance

7 Feb

Okay, I hate to exercise.  I mean I HATE it.

In general, I am not a lazy person.  I work hard, I don’t sleep late very often, and I get things done when they need doing.  I am not fantastic with housework, but the house stays mostly clean and never more than cluttered.

That being said, I would truly rather be beaten with a stick than do most forms of exercise.  Now, maybe, I know why?

My mom sent me an article about this theory of “exercise resistance.”  The article says that this particular doctor believes that human beings are not inherently lazy, and that most people who don’t exercise are suffering from exercise resistance.  She says that people are biologically programmed to enjoy the thrill of movement, and that perhaps our modern society is to blame in some ways for ruining that a bit.  She mentions several things, like cultural pressure, that could conceivably cause someone to develop what essentially amounts to resenting exercise for one reason or another.

Now, I am sure this is not something that is universally true, and maybe it isn’t true for anyone, but she lists some steps for “treatment,” and most of them make sense to me.

The Six Steps

  • Step 1 – Explore the history of what may have happened to block your drive to have fun moving. Ask yourself these questions:
    • What feelings or memories surface when you think of exercise? (…pain, unpleasantness, sweat, dirty, shortness of breath, self-consciousness about appearance)
    • When did exercise become a chore or requirement?  (…when it became about weight loss)
    • Do you connect exercise to losing weight or changing your shape; if so, how does that make you feel about exercise?  (Absolutely.  It infuses exercise with a lot of pressure.)
    • What connection does exercise have to your sexuality?  (I don’t think there is any connection there for me… I’ll have to think about it.  I mean, I guess I could say that it makes me feel negatively about not looking like the “right” kind of woman.)
    • Did changes in your attitude toward exercise occur during puberty?  (Absolutely.  For me, this is when the development of curves made me conscious of being “bigger” and thus aware of exercise as a weight loss tool.)
    • Were attitude changes related to sexual abuse, harassment, or feelings of sexual vulnerability?  (No.)
    • How does exercise relate to your current view of you and your body?  (It is still all about weight loss for me.  It is always an uphill battle, in which I feel like I am fighting my own body to make it conform to something it doesn’t seem to have any interest in being…)
    • Who are your fitness role models?  (dancers, athletes, Brandi)
  • Step 2 – Forbid yourself to exercise for several weeks to six months. “When you do this,” White says, “you start wondering when you can exercise.”  (Really?  I am not so sure about this one, though I do understand the psychological thought behind it.  I just think that someone who doesn’t exercise anyway would hardly feel like they were “forbidden” to exercise… they would just be doing what they always did.)
  • Step 3 – Think about what activity you enjoy doing. If you could do any physical movement you wanted, what would it be?  (Walking on the beach, dancing… specifically ballet.)
  • Step 4 – Imagine connecting with that activity. If you’ve always loved walking, don’t think about getting on a treadmill. Instead, see yourself hiking a trail surrounded by nature.  (My concern here is that I imagine myself dancing very well, which I can’t do… anymore.  That is where my inner perfectionist kicks in and says “why bother if you’re just going to suck?”)
  • Step 5 – Commit to being active because you want to be active. “Don’t start exercising because you’re supposed to or because you want to lose weight,” White says. Rather than relying on external reasons to exercise, internalize your desire. Also, understand that being active is a lifelong commitment.  (This might be the hardest for me… I don’t know how to divorce any form of exercise from the concept and expectation of weight loss.)
  • Step 6 – Get educated about exercise (i.e., find out what shoes are best for your chosen activity) and start moving.  (This is where I would like to be now.  I am pretty educated about dance, and certainly about walking to the beach, so I want to be in a “start moving” phase…)

So yeah… I don’t know.  I think there are some useful ideas in the article, which you can read all of HERE, and (just like anything else) maybe some things that don’t apply to me or won’t work for everyone.  I am going to try to work it out though… think more about why I hate to exercise.

I know it has a lot to do with the pressure to be thin, and the idea that exercise is only about losing weight.  I think if I could let go of that, even a little, and really learn to enjoy some form of movement for its own sake, I would exercise more.  That is why I am trying to find a ballet class near me.  I used to feel that way about ballet, movement for the joy of doing so, and I would very much like to find that again.  I have always shied away from going back to ballet, because I know that in the beginning it is going to be extremely punishing to get back into dancing shape, but other forms of dance I have tried have just not brought me the same simple joy.  So… we’ll see if I can find something affordable and schedule friendly.

Until then, rejoice, for I have found an explanation for at least something… maybe.


2 Responses to “Exercise Resistance”

  1. Tara February 7, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Part of the issue, as we discussed this weekend, is the “all of nothing” mentality that affects the both of us. It is hard to do, but accepting that every little bit helps is what got me going back to the gym, even if it is only a couple days a week. It’s like getting a diet coke with a value meal at McD’s. It may not seem like much, but cutting even a few calories is better than not. I hope that makes sense.

  2. elizabeth February 7, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    That article does have some great points. Especially with finding out when/why exercising went from PLAY to Obligation. I think i’ve told you before I had an aunt (who I lived with during the week when mom worked graveyard) who was obsessed with my weight. Even though I was average-sized as a child, my fathers side has a history of obesity and diabetes. So, she got fixated on it trying to “nip it in the bud”. So, I loved swimming and even was on a team where we competed and I did really well. But then it turned into one of my forced-exercise routines. Having to do 15 laps everyday during the summer. Then wanting me to get a year-round coach because of my “talent”, but I really feel the only reason she was offering to pay was because it would get me exercising more. Needless to say, I didn’t get the coach and I quit the swim team. Part of it was jealous girls being mean to me, the other because the fun was sucked out of it and replaced with, like you’ve mentioned, pressure to exercise and lose weight. And I was only 9!!!!

    I have started to try and re-wire what I think of exercise, and what has worked well for me is knowing how sedentary we are in this age. Knowing that I’m basically supplementing for the fact that I don’t hand-wash clothes, get food only from farming, get water from a well, have no car etc etc that I have to move/exercise to make up for that. I also really want to take a dance class, but struggle with the not-perfect-at-it thing. Blah, the joys of caring what other people think. Sorry for the novel! haha

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