I sometimes can be perfectionistic or critical in my life such as having high standards in physical therapy or needing to “be right”. I want “the best” deal on clothing that is really cute but also a good price, groceries, my rent, or appetizers at happy hour. I want my schedule to be perfect that every minute is productive inside and out of work. I even investigated my choice of car for 6 months and watched the local dealerships for the “most appropriate” specifications that I had researched. I am incredibly self critical when I make a mistake at work or in my relationships. I am grateful for this drive in my personal and professional life to make good decisions and hold myself to a high standard.
However, sometimes it can be spending 5 minutes in the toothpaste isle to find the best toothpaste when you’re not sure if it really matters that much and you have wasted 4 minutes of your life. Or even editing this post over and over again?
One area of my life where I feel less critical and more self compassionate is exercise. I would describe my attitude as, “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something.”
What that looks like is I run with my dog ~4 days/week (mostly because she is a working dog and needs an energy outlet to be successful). Most days we will run 3 miles. However, on days when I’m tired or have scheduled too much in my morning before work, I’ll run 1 or 2 miles instead. And… I won’t beat myself up over it! If I’m really tired, I will just take a short walk.
I aim to do a strengthening routine 2-3x/week. Some days, I’ll do a yoga video. Some days, I’ll make a circuit for myself. If I’m having a low energy or busy day, I’ll just do two exercises which take 5 minutes on my lunch break.
Over the years I have gone to the gym, taken ballet class, worked towards strength goals, trained for a 5k, done yoga in classes and at home, hiked on the weekends, taught some Zumba, and I’m excited about what is next. I’d really like to try martial arts, climbing, and training for a 1/2 marathon one day.
The Academy of Sports Medicine recommends that adults perform 150 minutes of aerobic conditioning/week (i.e. 30min/day 5 days a week) and strength training 2-3x/week. This is a good structure to work towards; however if you’re having an off day as we ALL do, just do something.
According to Yoga with Adrienne, ” We work with our bodies, not on them.”
Something else that has really resonated with me is, “What is your goal for life long fitness?” If you’d like take good care of your body to be able to do all the activities that wait for you, you’re playing the long game. Don’t let that inner critic beat you down for missing the mark on your exercise routine. Long term, you need a cheerleader or encourager to keep you in the game. You need support and that should start with you. Just do something and celebrate the contribution you’re making to keep your body healthy.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
One thought on “The middle way of exercise”
Yes! I appreciate your ability to choose how/when/how much you exercise. I also appreciate that you value this choice and view it through the lens of self-compassion. I believe when I view exercise as something I do *for* myself rather than *to* myself it is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling 🙂