I wanted to do a blog on Body Image, but it’s turning into a rather long essay and is a bit more slow going and editing heavy on my part. So, for the weekend I want to give anyone paying attention to this blog a little homework. I believe it will tie into the essay on some level.

I’d like you to set aside one hour of your time this weekend, to honestly ask yourself these two questions: “Why did I start working out? Why do I work out, now”?

Really think about it honestly. Get down to the kernel of truth. Don’t settle for the surface answer. If your initial thought is to say “to look better”, then dig deeper. What do you think looking better will do? How do you think you look? Is that why you still work out or has the motivation changed?

If your initial thought “is to be healthier”, then are you really thinking you’re unhealthy? Why do you think that? Do you have family medical history that you’re trying to mitigate? Do you have injuries that have affected the quality of your life that you’re trying to overcome?

Is it about sports performance? Are you competitive? Do you need to be the best at your thing? Are you or might you get to be, a professional? If not, what is really driving you? Might it link up to some other issue even deeper?

Maybe it’s a social reason. Boredom, loneliness, whatever it is, think about it and smash it up, pulverize it, and get to the subatomic truth of the matter.

Don’t lie to yourself and don’t be afraid of sounding shallow. Don’t give the answer you think you’re supposed to give. Give the truth, and then decide if you want to share it. If you feel like sharing with the world, post it. If you feel like sharing with me, send it in an email. If you want to keep it private, just don’t ignore it yourself, too.

I’ll be at a fitness conference all day tomorrow (Saturday), but I’ll find the time throughout the day and share my story sometime tomorrow (Is there anything I can’t do on my iPhone? Well, a few things, I guess)

As usual, don’t hesitate to ask your own questions.

5 thoughts on “Homework

  1. I work out just to feel the best I can. Growing up I was always running around. I like to feel strong and the confidant that I can run or climb something ( if I had to) now. I can’t say that looking better was always my motivation. It’s a nice bonus for the hard work but at the end of the day it has to be more than that.

    1. Thanks for the quick response, but I wonder if there might be something deeper. Anyone who knows you, or sees you working out in the gym, will know how important fitness is to you. You are physically very fit, and that implies you are physically healthy. This sets you apart from the majority of the american populace. You also seem to keep things in balance, not obsessively working out 3 or 4 fruitless hours a day like so many members do. But why? Why is this feeling of physical power important to you? Why does it fill you with confidence? That’s the question I want everyone to ask themselves.

  2. That’s a tough one. Even the motivations I know about are complicated. I started coming to the gym after a few years of not being able to exercise. I had gained a lot of weight and I was in constant pain — mostly back and knee. Even getting off the coach was painful and required rolling to the right position — I can now lift that coach. I was getting depressed as I watched things I use to do pass me by. I also had my doctors start telling me to careful after decades of telling me I had nothing to worry about. I continue to exercise because I don’t want to go back to that unhappy time. But, I have many other reasons. I like being in shape. I like most of the exercises I do at the gym. I like most of the people I meet at the gym and I socialize with some of them. I know more people from the gym than I do people living on my block. The gym is a place for me to decompress between work and home. I know that if I was at home, I would probably just watch TV and I feel like I’ve done something valuable. There are many other motivations, but these are the main ones.

  3. The trite and trivial beginning involved a dress but there were other reasons.

    Even with a healthy appetite and less than ideal habits, I never had problems with weight or health. But slight deviations started to bug me — creeping weight gain, slight lethargy, getting a bit winded performing hitherto easy tasks. Getting older explains some but I also used to be more active – played sports for fun, wasn’t deskbound for hours. My realities have changed and I must adapt. Being female also comes with a built-in handicap. But next came the resolve – I’m nowhere near THAT old and refuse to be a walking cliche – old, fat, slow, unhealthy. I must and will nip it in the bud!

    I find exercise tedious so the key was finding MY PLAN – enjoyable (is it possible?), challenging, efficient. Anything else leads to indifference, torpor and epic fail. I need instruction and accountability so I tried many classes. I soon zoomed in on spin for cardio – one task and loud music I can handle. Strength training involved a longer, arduous search where I learned the following: frustration motivates me, I like surprising myself, mollycoddling bores me, goading/nagging/mocking gets me going. It’s a continuing search for maximum benefit in the shortest duration. Working out hours on end everyday would depress me and would require lots of comfort food. Counterproductive.

    Why do I persist? Not for competition – what others can or can’t do is irrelevant to my output. I really only care that I workout to MY full efficiency. Aesthetics, “feeling good”, getting healthy — all great but not primordial. There may be two reasons: self-awareness and freedom. I resist diets with a passion and enjoy food more than most so I need to work it off. Either the ice cream takes permanent residence on my hips or I can evict it. I’ve also come to terms with no longer possessing the invincibility of youth. What I used to take for granted now requires actual effort. If I don’t exert the effort, it would impair my freedom to do and enjoy certain things, my independence and self-sufficiency. If I can’t shed all bad habits, I must endeavor to counteract and reduce the cumulative effects. Unfortunately, you really can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Plus, it’s cheaper than therapy and it’s a more productive – and non-criminal – cathartic activity.

  4. I started working out because I was good at it; I continue because it makes me feel good. It’s good for my ego. I feel better about myself when I’m active, probably because I look fitter, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. The intensity that I like to work out with is driven by my very competitive nature. Even better if I have a goal I’m working towards (century bike ride, triathlon, improve my racquetball game….). I’ve been working out in one form or another for so long that it’s simply become part of who I am and how I’m known. I can’t imagine anything different.

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