Health, fitness, and wellness – and, of course, the dreaded “gym” – are all topics that come up regularly at work and in my life these days. First and foremost, we should change the definition of the word “gym.” Your gym is wherever you enjoy doing activity – at home, at a fitness facility, along a bike path in the river valley, or out in the mountain wilderness. With that definition in mind, when you do go to the gym, go for the good feeling and not for the guilt. I often hear people say how much they dislike lifting weights or spending time on a treadmill or having to share a room with a bunch of sweaty strangers. And yet they force themselves to go and they feel terrible. Or, if they don’t go, they feel guilty. Talk about a motivation killer. By changing the way we define “gym” and altering what a “workout” looks like, we remove the negative association and restore the good feelings that motivated us in the first place.
Once people find their gym, they’ll likely need support. Some folks can go it alone and have the self-discipline to meet their goals by themselves. Kudos to those people but it’s just plain easier when you’ve got one or two people to lean on and share your experience with. There’s a group of us at the office who’ve drawn together to support each other’s fitness goals, mostly in keeping each other motivated to use our on-site fitness facility, but also in talking about different looks to workouts, the kinds of non-gym activities we participate in, what constitutes “proper” eating, and anything else we can get from each other’s counsel. Our goals may be different but the support we get is the same which can make all the difference on those days when you’re just not feeling motivated.
To my point about proper eating, the moment I hear a statement like, “this is my cheat day” or “I’m allowed to eat a certain food because I went to the gym,” I call it out. These types of statements are bullshit – they’re negative, they undermine the positive choice you’ve made to exercise, and they make you feel guilty about enjoying your life. No one needs that. You choose your health and fitness goals. You choose how much you work out. You choose what you eat. So have a burger or drink a scotch and feel confident in your choices and the results that come with them. And as those results take shape you may find you make different choices (notice I didn’t say “better”).
My gym? It’s a place where I can lift weights, play hockey, go for a run, snowboard, and play squash. My motivation? I want to look good, I want to feel good, I want to be strong, I want to be healthy and active for the rest of my life, and I want to be able to eat and drink the things I enjoy.
Where’s your gym?