Do you work out because you want to or because you have to?
What a loaded question, huh? But I pose it to you because it’s an important question. It can most definitely be both. Don’t we all have those days/weeks? Those days where we drag our lazy butts to the gym even though we’d rather just relax at home?
Because I Want To
Even when I was overweight and eventually obese, I DID go through phases where I was way into the gym. I remember distinctly when I was still living at home around 18 years old, just out of high-school and I joined the nearby 24HR Fitness. It was a small gym, no pool, but it was close to my parent’s house and it was also right near where I worked. I would go to the gym a few times a week but it was also followed by eating a footlong sub from Subway or one of those personal sized pizzas from Pizza Hut for dinner. I was undoing everything I did in the gym with a poor diet. But I was 18 and didn’t know any better and certainly wasn’t counting my calories then!
I enjoyed going to the gym even though I didn’t see any results (again, poor diet). I definitely went through very inactive phases (sometimes lasting years at a time) and that is when I put on the most weight. The image of an obese person hating exercise wasn’t necessarily accurate for me. I was just lazy. I didn’t see results when I did work out, so why bother? (AGAIN! Diet!)
When I resolved to lose 100 pounds, I started swimming a few days a week and then eventually added some gym sessions to that too. I found that I really really liked it. It was such a good stress reliever! The more I worked out, the fitter I got, the more I LOVED how I felt. I felt healthy, I was losing weight, I was getting stronger.
I loved seeing results and I loved the happy endorphins I was getting. Because of that I’ve grown addicted to that feeling. It makes me happy, it relieves stress, it gives me “ME” time, I see results and I found that I loved doing things like biking, running, hiking and swimming. If I take too many days off from working out, my body doesn’t feel good. I feel lethargic, I start to feel moody and certain parts of my body start to ache (usually my hips).
Because I Have To
For me, this is the sticky part. It’s complicated. I definitely have emotional scars and issues related to being obese and losing 100 pounds. There is definitely a fear in the back of my mind that says if I ever stop working out, I will gain back 100 pounds. Is that realistic? Probably not. Is it a valid fear? I think so! I don’t want to go back to where I was so unhappy. I don’t want to lose everything I worked so hard for.
There are days when I DO work out “because I have to.” For me that means “it’s on my calender, it’s a gym day, I have to work out.” Lately I’ve been getting much better at taking an extra rest day if my body or my mind needs it. Sometimes taking 1 extra rest day is the reset I need and when I return to the gym I feel refreshed and excited again. We all burn out sometimes; that’s natural. Switch things up!
If more and more of your workouts are done “Because I Have To”, maybe it’s time reevaluate what you’re doing. Maybe you need to find something else to do that you ENJOY and look forward to it. Check out some of these old posts:
I touched on this issue a lot in the “Fitness Should Be Fun” post. It should be. It may be hard, it might be exhausting, but if you look forward to it and feel accomplished after it, you’re on the right track!