I don’t like to exercise – think it’s unnatural. Now I’m sure that comment raises the cackles of many among you, but let me explain:
My theory is that exercise, as it is performed today, simply can’t be comprehended by the mind – hence the problem so many people have with it. It’s not willpower as much as we are fighting an innate, hardwired, genetic predisposition for expending our energy in a worthwhile manner.
Take running on a treadmill. Intellectually, we understand heart-rate calculations, calories expended, etc. But the part of our brain that is about as intelligent as a gecko says: “Why the hell am I walking but I’m not going anywhere?!?”
It’s the same thing with weight training. Lift a weight up. Put a weight down. Lift a weight up. Put a weight down. Your internal gecko is saying: “Why am I lifting this up over and over!?”
You can push through your internal gecko, ignore him or her, and actually get into exercise. I don’t have the time, nor can I handle the cognitive dissonance that occurs.
What I try to do is exercise without exercising. Exercise without exercising happens while you are doing something else. We live in a time where people hire someone to mow their lawn so they can go to the gym and run on a treadmill – when they could have gotten the exercise at home and saved the money.
Are we really that absurd a society? Yes. Now if you are into numbers – counting things – this will drive you wacky, but I think all that counting just stresses you out. It doesn’t matter if you walked 22 minutes one day and 44 minutes the next – what matters is: how do you feel? Losing weight? Are you happy?
If you can’t imagine exercising without the numbers, without milestones and markers, then this advise is not for you. But if you are one of those people like me that just can’t get into a traditional exercise routine, here’s some suggestions:
- Sports of any kind. Jeez – even ping-pong is better than nothing. Playing along with ‘Wheel of Fortune’ on TV is not a sport.
- Park in the furthest parking space from the store you are going to. An added benefit is no one will ever compete with you over your parking spot.
- Stairs. I got kids, and the chaos that ensues from the forgotten this and that makes for extra trips up and down the stairs. Don’t let it irk you – think of it as exercise.
- Take a walk. Take the kids for a walk. Take a walk with your wife or husband. Take the dog for a walk – the dog is getting fat too.
- Never take an elevator unless you are in a 60-story high rise and climbing the stairs will make you sweaty and 45 minutes late for your appointment.
- In an office, get up and walk over to a coworker to ask a question rather than sending an email. Every step counts.
- Mow your own lawn. Obviously, if you have acres to mow, this might be impossible, but many of us with homes have a lawn that is perfectly mowable – and don’t cheat and buy one that has a power drive. You are pushing it yourself, pal. And ladies – mowing the lawn is not gender-specific – and just like a lot of women think there’s nothing sexier than a man doing the dishes, the same goes for a woman pushing a mower.
- Ride a bike, but not a stationary one. Ride somewhere. Don’t look at the speedometer, odometer or heart-rate monitor. Just try to enjoy the scenery.
- Have things to do around the house? Don’t hire someone if you can do it yourself without fear of flooding, electrocution, or your house being condemned. You’ll get a workout and save money to boot.
- How about Tai Chi or Yoga? Put aside any supposed spiritual aspects if that bothers you. They are exercise routines somewhat similar to isometrics but the routines can be calming to the mind. Skeptical? Try them out. Nobody’s going to try to turn you into a Moonie.
12 thoughts on “Exercising Without Exercising – Calming Your Inner Gecko”
Wow! I couldn’t agree with you more. You are totally right about people hiring someone to mow their yard to make time for going to the gym. It’s truly asinine.
Mowing the front lawn is on the agenda for tomorrow. I just started Tai Chi and it is harder than it looks! LOL I’m not the most coordinated person around, but the DVD I have shows step by step each movement and I’m getting the hang of it!
I also hate to exercise, but I love to go for a bike ride and don’t mind the weights.
I’ll be mowing too. The tai chi *is* harder than it looks – and it helps to teach grace in motion – something I’ve always appreciated in others because I myself don’t feel I’m all that coordinated. you can work up a sweat too. what DVD do you have?
I also tried the Yoga for Dummies DVD – I liked it. It came as a set with Pilates for Dummies which I didn’t like so much. Again, graceful, somewhat calming, yet it gets the blood flowing.
I love this…I’m a 52 year old mom of three, wife, work full-time, blah, blah, blah…try fitting in the gym thing. I feel terrible afterward and feel guilty if I don’t go. I needed to read this today…I think I’ll not go to the gym today and walk my dog…thanks!
You had just left me a message in response to a note I left on your blog. I wrote a long message reply but I think it got lost somehow (I may have mashed the wrong button), but then I found this post and felt I had to write again.
A few days before I started on the low-carb diet I started working out with a personal trainer who requires me to send her my food log everyday. I told her that I was starting low-carb (I’m now 10 days into it), and she didn’t like that – wrote me a long message. Anyways, my bp shot up after my teenage son did something really upsetting, and it stayed there for several days. I decided to lay off the workouts for now and the personal trainer thought I should stop the low-carb thing instead because she thinks it caused the bp spike (e.g. all the sodium in processed meats). I have always felt the same way you expressed in this post and have “exercised” by working in the yard and being active in other ways. I was feeling very stressed about fitting these workout sessions in (I was getting up at 5 so that I can still get in the office at a decent hour and not take away family time), and work as always is stressful. I can’t very well stop working. Anyways, I am encouraged by this post because it echoed my sentiments.
Thank you again.
Hi Wei Wei,
You dug up one of my old favorite posts!
As to exercise, there’s no doubt that it’s important for good health – but I don’t think it’s necessary for weight loss, and can, in fact, sabotage a diet because the diet/exercise combo is too much, too soon.
Here’s a link to a Gary Taubes article named ‘The Scientist and the Stairmaster’. It’s no longer on the original site, but someone reposted it at the following link:
As to your trainer’s response to low carb, welcome to one of the more interesting side effects of low carb: some people think you’re a kook.
There’s a Gary Taubes article on that as well: Diary of a Carb Phobe.
I’d love to know what your trainer said – I’ve heard all the arguments before. Please share whatever you feel comfortable with.
While I agree with your trainer that processed meats aren’t all that great for you, I personally think that if they’re used as part of acclimating a person to the big change of a low carb diet, then dialed back to occasional use once you’ve got your bearings, it’s not a big deal.
As to salt in particular, there is also debate:
Thou Shalt Reduce Salt Intake: True? False? Choose Your Study.
The fact is: your trainer might be right, but I’ll bet you they KNOW they’re right. Nutrition these days is not a science, but a belief system backed by a cherrypicking of studies.
My personal conclusion? I have demonstrated through my medical exams, bloodwork, and my scale that low carb works for ME, at least. So far.
People who go on low carb need to learn to listen to their own bodies, take personal responsibility for their own health, and accept the uncertainty.
I recently had back surgery and am not released to exercise . Any advice??
Well, you obviously shouldn’t exercise if you just had surgery and you doc doesn’t want you to. They’ll be plenty of time for it once you’re healed up.
You know, I don’t like my own answer. How about this one:
It depends on what you’re attempting to achieve. Are you looking to lose weight? Then you don’t need to exercise. Diet – especially a low carb diet – can do wonders while you don’t exercise if there’s no reason your doctor sees you can’t try it. You might want to ask your doc about some of the Tai Chi poses. If you’re not familiar, tai chi, while gentle, can really work muscles.
I liked your second answer as well. Yes, I want to lose 35 lbs. I can do some limited walking, though. I started induction 2 days ago and am down 2 lbs–am anxious to see more results!!!
I totally agree with this post 🙂 I have been on my weight loss journey for 5 years(really12, but I got more serious in the last 5). I practice yoga 1-3 days a week and I walk or stand when ever I can. I’m really enjoying your blog.?