This past weekend I read a few articles that got me thinking about why the majority of people don’t make fitness a priority in their lives. For this post, I am not going to get into why I think people need to be doing CrossFit, but refer to the more inclusive definition of fitness offered by Wikipedia as, “Good health or physical condition, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition.”
A recent poll conducted by CNN Health reports that 6 out of 10 Americans don’t exercise regularly despite the overwhelming data of proven health benefits related to it.
I found this to be quite surprising. I am not sure how else you could word this to people. There are stacks of studies showing how beneficial exercise is for the human body yet we overlook it as we are on our way to McDonalds to take advantage of the 20 piece chicken mcnugget promotion. Side Note – Special thanks to the Olympics for making McDonalds the “official” sponsor which now puts McDonalds commercials on TV 24/7. I will refrain from boring you with my thoughts on how ridiculous it is that Micky D’s is the official sponsor….what a joke.
So I started to consider what some of the reasons may be for people to so easily stray from any and all physical activity.
This is probably the number one reason but it has many different areas in which it can affect people. I think a big fear for some is the fear of going to the gym and not having any idea what they should be doing or how they should do it. Another one may be the fear of failure. I think people put pressure on themselves for results as soon as they start exercising and the expectations they have are nearly impossible which sets them up for failure from the beginning. They are expecting to see a change within the first week of starting and that is just not realistic. They end up reading an article in some magazine about how they should be able to put 2” on their biceps or lose 4” in their waist in the first 2 weeks and when they don’t achieve those results, they get frustrated and quit. This has most likely happened to the majority of people at one point in time and their fear is that they will fail again and this fear will keep them from starting.
I guess my response to this would be to first define what fear is. Once again, my trusty Wikipedia defines this as “A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger”. If I were to read this to the person who used “fear” as the reason to avoid starting a fitness program, I would have to imagine they would see that those feelings aren’t really “fear”. There really isn’t an imminent threat of danger if they head to the gym and get in on some treadmill time as they catch up on the latest episode of “The Real Housewives” on the treadmill monitor. (sorry, couldn’t help but take a jab) When I think of Fear, the below comes to mind…
In reality, not to be overly dramatic, but the only “fear” that should be related to exercise is the fear of NOT exercising and the accompanying consequences. These do actually fit the definition of fear much more closely as they most definitely present an imminent danger.
2. Stigmas – Girls Aren't Supposed To Lift Weights
This is one that definately gets me a little heated everytime that I think about it but the reality is, this is a very real issue and we need to get it fixed. I am probably a little more engaged in this now that we have a daughter but either way, that doesn't make it acceptable. I will be supportive of my daughter no matter what it is she decides to do. There are no sports that only boys can/should play. It is ok to be competitive as a girl. It is ok to lift weights as a girl. It is ok to break the norm and have some muscle on your body and not be just skin and bones because that is what we “think” is attractive. This is a great video that I think every girl in grade school should be forced to watch at least once a month.
3. Pre-Existing Injury/Fear of getting hurt
I think this is yet another very common theme that keeps people from diving into an exercise program. Before I get into anything further, please click the picture below and read this story.
One of the better articles I have read is one that was written by fellow CrossFitter, Miranda Oldryd, following a very scary injury she suffered from the result of a car wreck. It is Called “Action is Eloquence”. Please click the picture below to read her story, take the time to read it!
If you still need a few reasons why this shouldn’t keep you from starting a program, here are some simple solutions to help you get started.
A. Focus on starting slow and progressing over time.
-Most people are in such a hurry to get the results they want, they are willing to take unnecessary risks in order to get there. Most of these risks really don’t speed up the results, they just speed up the injuries. I tell people all the time, there is no hurry, we aren’t going anywhere. People need to realize that if they spent the last 5 years being inactive, it is going to take TIME to get back into shape. If it was easy, everyone would be fit and we wouldn’t be the most overweight society on the face of the planet.
B. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
-Many people want to jump back into the same program that they did years ago without realizing that their body has changed due to their inactivity. They have lost flexibility and mobility within their joints. So when they try to do the exercises they did in the past, they are unable to safely do these and mainly due to stubbornness, they try to force the issue and ultimately end up hurting themselves. Focus on mobility first, regain what you lost and then you can work on getting stronger. It DOES NOT work the other way around. Swallow your pride and don’t worry about how much weight your doing, worry about getting your form fixed and the weight will come.
C. Listen To Your Body, Don't Be in a Hurry!
-A lot of us are results driven and we base results off of quantity when we should be focused on the quality. I see this most often in people with all different goals. It can be weight loss or it can be strength gain, it doesn’t matter, overtraining can come back and bite all of us. Most people that want to lose weight will try to add volume in the form of running miles on top of their regular workouts. All this ends up doing is burning the hard-earned muscle that you put on over the past few months. For those looking to gain strength, they come in and do two-a-days or try to workout 6 days in a row. They crush their central nervous system without giving it time to reload; hit a nasty plateau and wonder why they aren’t getting better. When your body is tired, take a day off, it is that simple. If people would just listen to their bodies, results would come much easier.
D. Old High School Injury
-One of my favorites…Everyone has it. That old injury from 20 years ago that just so happens to come back EVERY time they start a fitness program. I will try and be as sensitive as I can with this one….your not hurt, you don’t have an old injury, you have an allergy….. you are allergic to hard work and sweating. Your body hurts when you exercise because you NEVER exercise. Of course your knee hurts when you squat with a pvc pipe, you haven’t squatted in 15 years. I will try and compare this to something that most of us can relate to….In college, I may have partaken in some alcohol consumption at one point or another. I then got married, had a kid, opened a business and suddenly lost all desire to drink alcohol. If I were to try and drink tonight, the same way I did back in College, I would probably be woken up by the sprinklers hitting my face in my front lawn with no recollection of the prior night. The same goes for your body with exercise, if you don’t do it for a long period of time, it goes away. Your body’s tolerance for pain goes with it. Odds are that when you think you have a heart condition, you probably don’t, it is just your heart rate cracking 80 bpm by doing something other than getting off the couch to go the bathroom. It takes time to get your body and your mind back in the routine of working out. Our bodies are amazing but you can't expect it to instantly change overnight after years of neglect.