I had conversations with three different people from three unrelated areas of my life in the last week, and all of them said essentially the same thing – “You don’t seem to be enjoying yourself.” Now if just one person said something like that it might not register, but three people? I figured it was something I better take a look at.
What I realized is that I have worked my way back into Endurance Mode. Head down, shoulders hunched, feet moving… getting things done. Being productive is great, but all work and no play makes Jack crazy eventually.
My mindset around fitness has gotten pretty grey. The story I am telling myself goes something like this:
“You messed around for decades and now you have some rebuilding to do. It doesn’t matter whether you want to or not, it’s time to get it done. Grit your teeth and get on with it.”
Now, the problem with this story is that some of it is true, some of it is partially true and some of it is just plain wrong. But enough of it is true to keep me acting on it, and the more I base actions and my thoughts about those actions on this story, the more unhappy I inevitably become. And unhappiness is the first step towards giving up. So it’s time for a new story.
I have never really enjoyed exercise. Well, not formal exercise anyway. I used to be very active, skateboarding, riding my bike everywhere, etc… That wasn’t exercise. This brings up two questions. First, WHY don’t I enjoy exercising? I don’t know what the answer is, but I have a few ideas. When the exercise I am doing gets strenuous I can feel the fear start to well up inside me. I don’t even know what the fear is, but it starts screaming “You need to stop! You can’t breathe! You need to get out of here!” I can feel the adrenalin as it dumps into my system and my fight or flight instinct kicks in. I have started asking myself “Why am I having this fear?” and trying to detach from it so that I can just watch what happens if I keep going. Most of the time the fear doesn’t go away, but I am able to finish the exercise I am doing anyway. My hope is that by acknowledging the fear and working to stay present in my body I will begin to outgrow it. I may never love working out, but I have to believe that there is a way to enjoy it. Getting past the fear is the first step in that process.
The second question is just this: Why the hell am I not engaging ion things that don’t seem like exercise but are? The most obvious answer is that I am a dumb-ass and it hadn’t occurred to me. And even when it does, I find a reason to talk myself out of doing it. So I have begun to talk to some friends about playing tennis, I’m looking for a bike rack and even beginning to think about skating again. Doing these things will not only give me more exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise, it will get me out there, hanging out with friends and maybe even having some fun along the way.
Fun. You wouldn’t think that a guy who spent the 80s and 90s the way I did would forget to have fun… but you’d be wrong. I gotta see what I can do about that. like, now!