Two weekends ago, I visited the city of angels with my girlfriend Katie. We spent 4 days in the ‘burbs north of LA, hanging out with her family in the area. This largely included spending time at houses and restaurants, and that means there was a ton of eating. Food is love, right?
Can you see our sushi in that background? We also ate froyo, Mexican, seafood, American, Persian… I’m pretty sure I ate a weeks worth of food in three days. It was an incredible experience.
Except for one thing. I didn’t get to exercise.
I want to be explicitly clear: I’m absolutely a brat when it comes to getting exercise. (Katie totally agrees with me.) You see, if I don’t sneak in some sort of higher intensity training every few days, I become something of a diva. Ya know those amazing chocolate videos? Yea, that’s totally me.
Don’t get me wrong, we moved a lot in LA. We were able to play with Gracie the Dog, we walked to the top of Mount Doom Point Dume, we walked through Bell Canyon, I walked through Gramu’s development. We walked a ton. Thing is, I walk a lot in NYC. I don’t count it as “exercise” for myself as much as I consider it physical activity. (We’ll discuss those semantics for a later date.)
I love physical activity, yet I feel completely different when I get to work out or “train.” When the goal is some component of physical performance, I feel like I’m working towards something, and I like that. In LA, I was able to attenuate my stress by stealing off to a Gold’s Gym for what felt like the best 45 minute workout ever. I paired front squats and bench pressed. I did chin ups and deadlifts. I did about 100 rows… and then my time was up. It would not pass anywhere close to a “quality” workout, but I learned something from it:
Exercise is great stress management.
Planning can be even better stress management.
Exercise makes us feel good. Thanks to the psychology of accomplishment, and the beneficial hormones released during exertion, our mind and body almost always feel better after exercise. It’s one of the most powerful stress management tools we have available to us. Without it, I was not my best self.
However, that stress could have been avoided had we actually planned for, “Harold needs to lift or he becomes a prissy diva” time, which is exactly what happened. Rather than appreciate that I would need an hour of me-time along the way, I thought, “Nah, I’ll be fine. I’ll make it. That hike will be good enough.”
In full disclosure, Katie was full aware of my tendencies during our planning, and asked me about it. Ah, how unaware I was. After those 45-minutes in that meathead, bodybuilding, walk-on-the-treadmill-for-fatloss mecca, I felt much better. Now let me ask you a question:
How often do you do this?
How often do you skip workouts? When do you tell yourself that you’ll feel fine if you don’t exercise? When do you decide that it’s not that big of a deal?
We all do it; it’s human nature to do it. It’s also human nature to rationalize the decisions and actions that didn’t work out as well as we had planned. While we’re aware of it, we can be better. I’m in Kansas City this weekend, and while I’m in town for The Fitness Summit, you can bet your ass that there’s time set aside for exercising. There are gyms to lift in, and hills to sprint up. I’ll be fine. Now I want you to think about your life.
When do you set aside time to train? How do you ensure that you keep that commitment to yourself? To your training partners? You can think about it rhetorically, or you can reach out and let me know. I’m happy to build a better plan with you.