I often wonder what I could have achieved with my life if it wasn’t for my uncontrollable desire to actually read clickbait. I reckon I could have squeezed in at least another degree by now. I got click-baited last week. And before I could stop myself, there I was, reading an article telling me why exercising is wrong, training is right, and where I’ve been going wrong all this time.

It went something like this…

“you know those friends who go to the gym all the time, those friends who always seem to be keeping fit, but they never look any different? THAT’S exercise. That’s working out at the same level, with no goal in mind. No focus. That’s not what YOU should be doing. YOU should be training. Y’know, working hard, always pushing yourself, constantly striving to lift that next weight or that next rep goal. Training is what gets you results. Don’t exercise. Train.”

So there I was, feeling like I’ve been wasting my lazy life in the gym because despite working out between 3-6 times a week, I never look any different. The article went on to tell me how I should ditch this pointless obsession with mere “exercise”, and actually haul my ass towards a leaner, healthier weight and shape by training it instead.

I caught myself feeling momentarily bad at how I’ve been “stuck” at around 65kgs for the past 15 years, and then I pulled myself together and felt immediately annoyed.

Why in god’s name am I perceived to be doing something wrong in the gym if I stay looking the same? How on earth has the idea of exercise become synonymous with being a bit lazy and not very committed? HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED?!

[photography by Sophie at http://www.thefitologyway.com]

I can see the difference between the two disciplines, sure I can. Exercise – moving, sweating, feeling connected to your body. Training – also moving and sweating, but maybe getting stronger, or getting leaner, or getting lungs that are better at oxygen exchange. Both have their place, both have their advocates. But excuse me if I happen to think exercise is as important as training, expecially for your average human like you or me, who aren’t entering a bikini competition and enjoy a regular slice of cake.

I am annoyed to read sh*t articles on the internet telling people who exercise (for whatever damn reason they decide to exercise), that they’re wasting their time unless there’s a goal in mind. And yep, you’ve guessed it, that goal is often mixed-up with how they end up looking, rather than feeling.

Me? I exercise to feel like myself in my body. I exercise to relieve stress. I exercise to control my anxiousness. I exercise to feel energised and positive. I exercise to enjoy feeling like I really worked hard and achieved something cool. I exercise to say thank you to my body for being mine.

As a by-product of exercise, my weight is maintained within a certain range that I feels normal for me. As a by-product of exercise, I make (usually) half-decent food choices because exercise has made me grateful towards my body and I like looking after it with nourishing things. As a by-product of exercise I can move quite heavy things, I have a healthy, low heart rate and a good level of endurance.

[photography by Sophie at http://www.thefitologyway.com]

The even funnier thing is that when I was actually “training” back in the latter part of 2016 (i.e. working towards a goal, constantly upping the weights and reps, and counting every calorie) I was a jittery, agitated, emotional and I actually started to dread visits to the gym during that time because working out became joyless. At times, when I was “training”, working out actually felt like I was punishing myself for being complacent at the size and shape that I’d been blissfully happy being, until the damn training started!

So, what’s my resolution to this rant then? Well, I guess it’s to say that as long as you are moving your body in a way that feels good to you, then that’s what’s important. Test lots of stuff. Don’t be afraid to push your body and experiment with what it can do, and I guarantee you’ll eventually find something that feels more like joy than punishment. The more you try, the more you’ll probably find that you like.

If you’re moving your body with the purpose of looking a certain way at the end of it all, then I’m not hating on you. But just promise me one thing? Check in with yourself and make sure that in your pursuit of a particular aesthetic, you’re not making detrimental choices towards how you feel on the inside. I’m not about to tell you that getting super lean or shredded is guaranteed to make you feel like sh*t. Just because I didn’t rate it, it might actually make you make you feel amazing, so carry on! But I’d always advise against an aesthetic goal being your sole reason for heading to the gym.

Moving your body, whether that’s fast, slow, with purpose or pure abandon – should feel good. Don’t get hung up on whether you you’re “exercising” or “training”. You’re moving. Keep going! Say thank you to your body, and try not to give a hoot what you look like when you’re doing so. Because, when you move in a way that feels good, you will instinctively start to move as if sunlight is pouring out of your body and flooding everyone around you with glorious light.

And I’d rather look like that than have a six-pack.

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