I went running yesterday, as is typical for me every Sunday. It was cold, windy, and halfway through I saw a little rain. I had only taken a quick glance at the weather forecast earlier that morning, which meant I didn’t dress as appropriate for these conditions as I normally would.
I was cold and wet, but mostly cold. I remember thinking to myself, “Why do I put myself through these situations?” In this moment I remembered that I don’t love exercise. After losing over 80 pounds, and now having exercised daily for the past 12 years, you’d think I’d be the poster child for loving exercise, but I don’t. Exercise can suck sometimes. It can be uncomfortable, wet, cold, tiring, painful, hot, sweaty, and difficult.
I don’t love exercise, but I’ve never missed a workout in over a decade. How do I keep myself in the “ultra-committed” category, the type of person who never misses a workout? Quite simply, I love the person exercise makes me.
I remember an early conversation with Mark Zarate, shortly after we met, where I came to this realization. Mark and I conducted a thought experiment. If I took away all of the benefits exercise provided for me, would I still spend my time in the gym? If it didn’t improve strength, help shape my body, maintain or improve my health, or help me deal with stress, would I still spend as much time exercising? If lifting weights dwindled, quite literally, to just picking things up and putting them down, would I still be as committed?
My answer was easily a hard no.
My love for fitness stems from its ability to contribute to self-improvement. I’m not in love with exercise; I’m in love with getting stronger. I’m in love with building a body that I’m proud of and confident in. I’m in love with how exercise has built my mental toughness over the years, allowing me to deal with greater amounts of stress. I’m not in love with going out in the cold, wet, wintery temps to run—I’m in love with being the type of person who would be crazy enough to do something like that.
To those of you starting your fitness program in the coming days or weeks—those who are starting to wonder when you’ll learn to love exercise, or how anyone on Earth could learn to love exercise—know that you don’t have to love it. In the end, none of this is about the exercise.
It’s about becoming the person you want to become. That transformation is what is going to change your life. Fall in love with becoming that person and you’ll start to enjoy every activity that moves you closer to that end.
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