Where, oh where did we get the idea that exercise is a form of physical punishment, a real-life mulligan, a good-negating-bad choice, a means to self-worth, self-confidence, and self-love? And if we don’t exercise, do we not punish ourselves mentally with shame or through other physical reasoning such as diet restrictions or binges or vices? I’m certainly generalizing on behalf of a few, but I still think that a few involves… well… many.
Shit, I used to think or feel this way. I know a lot of my health-seeking peers share those thoughts or feelings, too… at least that’s the reality I peering-eye experience on my social networks; i.e. facebook prophecies, instagram progressions, twitter vents, and tumblr no-holds-barred’s. I experience people who hold exercise as the parting of the Red Sea to the healthy promise land. I experience people whom are publicly frustrated with themselves over poor diet choices. I experience people whom are up in a never-ending cycle of searching for themselves with external justification. I experience people whose achievements or success are based solely on hard-work, burning the wick at both ends, and pain.
I am aware that there is an extreme to this; one that is more in-touch with an inner peace as a means to reach outer satiety (as I have so novice-ly discovered along my journey). But not everyone is at that point, and there could be many drifting along in purgatory; searching for a quick-fix way out that could send them further down or a patiently-puzzle-pieced journey that may give rise to one of many epiphanies. I am not one to say who is right or wrong. I am no one to say my way or the highway. My point is to bring this constricted reality to light because it’s been on my subconscious radar for some time; that is, why does it have to be this way?
I do not have a black-and-white answer. What I have are some qualms. As long as work-out dvds exist, as long as diet-fads promoted by wolves looking to profit from sheep, as long as fitness buffs market an external body-image as the end and quick video clips of them exercising as the means, as long as specific advice is given to a world of individuals then this reality will continue to exist. There is, however, a growing awareness that health doesn’t mean pain, agony, stress, turmoil, punishment, or a daily kill-yourself. There is a growing awareness that health comes from within, from an awareness of one’s wants vs. needs, from an awareness that love and understanding precede permanent change (and not the yo-yo we may experience). There is a growing awareness of smarter, not harder to accomplish goals. There is a growing awareness that it’s ok to be less of an image and more of a path.
I am not bashing exercise. I think there is a time, a place, and an individualized need for exercise. I think that exercise has incredible benefits… when it is implemented properly. I think that people have built exercise up to be more of a reaction than action. I think that exercise went from a daily instinct to a daily grind. I think that if someone uses exercise for self-discipline, self-control, or self-confidence, I’d say there’s a lot more going on underneath it all that is in dire need to be addressed and not suppressed.