We all have things we have to do that aren’t our favorites. For me, it’s housework. I’m certainly not one of those people that likes to clean, not by a long shot. I strongly dislike it all; laundry (mostly the folding and putting it away part), dishes, de-cluttering, bathrooms, changing bed sheets, the list goes on and on. I honestly can’t think of one thing that involves cleaning that I enjoy. I take that back, actually I really like what my house looks like when it’s over. But, we all know that lasts for about 5 minutes (especially when you live with two boys and 4 dogs like I do) and then it starts all over again. And it gets especially bad if I let it go for a few days like I did over the holidays. It feels like an uphill battle to get things right again. But, as much as I dislike doing it, it has to be done. So I suck it up and clean.
I know that going to the gym, and exercise in general, is like this for some people. I can’t say I relate to that because for me the gym is a haven. But whenever I hear someone say how much they hate exercise, to put myself in their place I interject “housework” in place of “exercise” and suddenly I can relate. Honestly, they aren’t that much different. We don’t like doing it, we get no satisfaction while doing it, the only part we like is when it’s over and we see the results, we don’t look forward to the next time, and in both cases, the next time is inevitable because the effects of that one clean/workout don’t last long. And the longer you neglect both the worse things get.
When I have a clean house though, it seems like I’m more relaxed. The clutter in the house is directly related to clutter in my head. And even though I know this and understand this on an intellectual level, it doesn’t change the general feeling of dislike I have for the task, every single time. You’d think it would, right? In the same way, people who exercise and dislike it may feel and look better when they’re consistent, but it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t enjoy it. I get it, and in my own way I can relate. (And for the record, I’m not a hoarder and I don’t have a filthy house. I do clean, I just don’t enjoy doing it….ever.)
There is one very major difference between the two, however, that simply can’t be ignored. I can have a pile of discarded clothes hanging over the side of my garden tub (isn’t that what tubs are for?) and still walk out the door and go throughout my day and function normally. No one ever knows the truth about my disregard for hanging up clothes I’ve tried on and decided not to wear. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with exercise. Physiologically, exercise and movement is required for a healthy body. It’s the way we’re designed and when we ignore such a big part of our existence, things start to fail. Exercise is simply not optional if you seek a healthy life. Putting away my clothes, on the other hand? Completely optional. If I want to pick out my outfit from the side of my tub every day then I can do that, it doesn’t affect my long-term physical health. (I know, somewhere out there is a clean freak that’s about ready to write me a scathing reply explaining how wrong I am. Save it. I’m trying to make a point here.)
So, we’ve now established that you hate exercise, the gym, sweating, whatever. And you have a right to those feelings just as I have a right to dislike cleaning. But we all have to do things we don’t like and the consequences of not exercising are dire. So, it looks like we need to work on finding a way to make exercise more palatable. Not so you’ll do it, because again, that’s not optional for a healthy life, but in hopes that some day in the future you may do it without the internal struggle that you have today. I continue to try to organize my life in hopes of making the cleaning process easier. I recently added some cool organizers in my closet, which makes putting my clothes away much easier. That’s a win for me. In the same way, you need to continually seek out different forms of movement in hopes that someday, one of them will light a spark in you. I don’t know you, so it may take months, or years. Heck, it may never happen. But I think the benefits of continuing to try are worth it.
The best advice I can give you is to keep seeking out new ways to move. Even if you find something you like, still keep looking for new things. There are so many ways to exercise and putting all of your eggs in one basket is less than ideal. Variety is great not only mentally, but for your body as well. Next time, I’m going to help you figure out what works for you and give you some tools to help make the gym a place you don’t hate. But at the end of the day, much like cleaning, some things just have to be done, like it or not. Now, I’m off to empty and reload the dishwasher, AGAIN, and fold more laundry, AGAIN. Let’s make a deal, I will endeavor to NOT throw my clothes over the tub today if you will do your best to move your body, sweat a little, and make sure those muscles get some action! Stay tuned for Part II!