Exercise Myth: You’ve Got to Hate It

Do you watch The Biggest Loser on television? I confess that I do…I find myself drawn to it, kind of like rubbernecking at a traffic accident. I know that I really am not seeing the whole picture, and what I’m seeing may not be pretty or fun, but I just can’t help myself.

I love the concept of people being coached to change their habits and drop excess weight. But I hate the competition part of it. When the contestants are pulling for each other and helping support one another it is team work at its best. But the fact that someone gets voted off for not losing weight really bugs me…it feeds right into the mindset that we are only good enough if we are thin enough or if we get a certain result.

It is wonderful and inspiring to watch these obese people moving their bodies in ways they did not believe they could. Many of us think we will drop dead if we exercise. Of course all these contestants have been carefully screened by medical professionals and they have medics standing by at all times…something we rarely are made aware of.

So don’t just start an exercise routine that you see on TBL…and if you are overweight and out of shape, it is a great idea to check in with your doctor. Believe me, she be thrilled that you are taking charge of your health.

One of the biggest problems with TBL is it fosters the belief that you must work out 6 hours a day to lose weight successfully. You might have to work out that long for the results they want for a television show, but it sets people up to believe there is no way they can have weight loss success on their own. After all, who has that many hours a day to exercise? I sure don’t.

It is wonderful to be inspired to move your body more. Our bodies are designed to move. We used to move our bodies enough by our lifestyle…whether we were hunter-gatherers, farmers, laborers, or housewives before modern conveniences. Life was physically harder then and we burned more calories and utilized our muscles just because of life.

Today with our labor saving machines and our jobs where we sit most of the time we actually have to plan to move our bodies just to maintain our health. Fortunately, it is not necessary that we sweat and grunt for hours and hours every day. In fact, few people can keep that up. If you’ve been watching TBL then you’ve seen how trim people are for the finally but when the follow up comes months and seasons later how even the winners have put on a few of those hard lost pounds.

That’s because they were doing it for the competition and the chance to win the money. And the pressure of the camera probably helps some, for awhile at least. It doesn’t have a long-term effect, obviously.

But now and again I thrill at seeing a light bulb go off in someone’s head. This week it was Moses who said something quite insightful. For those of you who don’t watch the show I’ll sum it up for you: Moses had been struggling with his weight for the past few weeks. He wasn’t enjoying his experience at “The Ranch.” This week he saw other contestants boxing and it hit him: he loved the boxing he was doing in the beginning and he hadn’t been given the opportunity to box these past few weeks. So he told his trainer, the infamous Jillian, that he realized to be successful at this (losing weight) he knew he had to find exercise that he loved…and he loved to box.

This was a big breakthrough for a guy who never put himself first, who didn’t express his desires. And that is what we have to do…try different ways of moving our bodies until we find something that we love—or at least like well enough that we will stick with it. And if anyone tries to get us to do things that we don’t enjoy because it is “better for us” or because we will burn more calories or whatever, then we have to be like Moses and say:

I know that in order to be successful at being healthy I have to move my body in a way that I enjoy.

Moses had never boxed before so he had no idea that he would enjoy it so much. Only by being willing to experience something new was he able to find a way to be healthy that he enjoys.

This month, try a new way of moving your body every week. Step out of your comfort zone a little bit and try something that you’ve thought about but for whatever reason haven’t done. Maybe you don’t know how to start—so invest in yourself and take a class or hire a trainer. It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. Just find someone who can teach you what you want to know. And don’t let your size stop you. Just like on TBL people will be impressed that you are taking action and when you start to see and feel the results.

Then try something that you’ve never even dreamed of trying—something really different. Maybe join a walking group or go square dancing or play on the swing set in a neighborhood park or play Frisbee golf…the possibilities are endless.

Give it a shot—what have you got to lose? Maybe you’ll find something you really enjoy doing and lose a few pounds in the process. And I’d love to hear what you came up with—what you tried, what you liked and what you didn’t like, because even if you didn’t like it I’m so proud of you for trying. That puts you in the top of the class, because there are at least 9 other people who let their fear get in the way.

You are awesome!

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