The challenge of going for what you want

Conventional wisdom tells people that in order to be healthy & fit, you must first focus on exercise. And often, the most healthy people in society are often thought of as the marathon runners and triathletes. So naturally, the prevailing thought about fitness is that you must crank out cardio workouts to lose weight or keep the weight off.

The pressure is on! Go for a run or you will get fat. Thinking about skipping a workout? Tsk, tsk! You are overcome with guilt!

Lately, I have been making some changes to my exercise program, based on my new found knowledge about what is most healthy. I have traditionally stuck with a weekly schedule of:

-2-3 1 hour swim workouts
-2-3 runs of 4-10 miles each
-2 strength workouts in the gym of 30 minutes each
-1 yoga session of 1 hour 15 minutes

I had thought this was optimizing my health. But sometimes, being as busy as I am, it is difficult to squeeze all of this in. What was happening was if I missed just 1 of these workouts I would feel guilty!

So I reassessed what I was doing and contemplated 2 things:
1. What do I enjoy exercise-wise?
2. What is actually necessary to maintain or improve my fitness level?

The answers have changed my approach to fitness in a positive way. So here’s what I have changed and what I plan to do in the future:

1. I really like the feeling swimming gives me. So I’m sticking with the swim workouts- but I’m not going to mind if I only get 30 minutes instead of 1 hour, and I’m perfectly okay with doing 1-2 a week.

2. Strength training is very important, but I’m bored with my routine. I’m going to be mixing it up. I will try out CrossFit, indoor rock climbing, and maybe some of the ideas from Marks Daily Apple.

3. I’ve changed my running schedule. Sprinting, as I have learned, is healthy and good to do once in a while. So I’m down to 2 runs per week, one is a series of sprints on the beach, and the other around 5 miles with a group.

4. I’m adding in fun workouts whenever possible. Some days I don’t feel like running or swimming. I love stand up paddling, and with the weather warming up, it’s a perfect time to do more of that.

Enjoyment is the name of the game when it comes to exercise. It’s easy to fall into a rut of thinking of all the things you “have to” do, and taking the fun out of them in the process. And making matters worse, you will no doubt have lots of people around you trying to pressure you into doing endurance races or training events “for your health”.

So going for what you want in exercise can be a challenge in itself, but shaking off conventional wisdom and using your own volition can not only keep you on track with your fitness, but can allow you to feel more free and excited about each time you go out and move you body!

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