I talked about my most recent 50-mile race. We both talked about the wonderful addiction of exercise, especially running. But then my friend sheepishly apologized for not getting back to running more seriously since her treatments. Compared to what I was doing, she felt her few miles a week were insignificant.
I never want anyone to compare themselves to what I’m doing! I work out at a pretty intense level most of the time, and I fully admit that what I’m doing is a little crazy. I don’t expect anyone else to do what I do.
Fitness achievement is only about you. Your improvement (or lack of) is just about you and where you started. It’s a comparison with no one but yourself…. Are you able to do more than you could last month or last year? Are you stronger? Do you feel better than you did before?
The other thing that came up in conversation was the idea that she was sure she’d get back to it once she was through with XXXX. This is a really common idea – Let me just finish chemo or whatever, and then I’ll get back to exercising. But there are a couple of problems with this thinking.
First, why wait? Why wait until after treatments, after interviews, after whatever that’s keeping you from exercising? I think this idea stems from having basically one idea about what exercise is. We get an idea of what our workouts are. But there’s no one way to exercise, and no set amount. Just because you don’t have the time or stamina to do the same workout you did before doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Do what’s appropriate for you right now. If that means shorter or less intense workouts, fine. It’s still a workout. Do what you can given your current circumstances.
Second problem is that putting exercise off becomes a habit, just like exercising can be. I used a quote from Martin Luther for yesterday’s Life-Cise Daily Tip: How soon “not now” becomes “never”. That pretty much sums it up. The act of exercising, as well as the exercise itself, is beneficial. The act of regularly doing something becomes a habit.
In my profile this month for Lucy clothing (www.Lucy.com), I talk about exercising all throughout my cancer treatments. I say that exercising always kept me headed in the right direction, toward health and toward life. My workouts definitely changed through the course of my treatments, but the act of working out didn’t. I did whatever I could. I stayed in the habit of choosing health.
I always encourage people to keep exercising. You don’t have to do the same things you did last month or 10 years ago, but choosing to do something keeps you in the habit of choosing health.