Letting Go of “Have to Exercise”

Moving is more about having fun, healthy is just a by-product

The last six weeks I’ve been following “The Smarter Science of Slim™” healthy living plan. It’s a great program and one that I’m still doing, happy to have found a balance that works for me.  But there’s been an unexpected side effect to the program.  I only work out now because I want to.

The Smarter Science of Slim plan has just two 10-minute workouts per week.  They are designed solely to increase your metabolism.  These muscle-quaking sessions are incredibly intense, firing muscles eccentrically (for instance, when you lower the weight from a bicep curl) and they help to keep my body strong and my weight healthy.  But there is no obligation to exercise outside of that.

What this means is I’ve just been picking activities that I enjoy; these keep me moving because I love to move.  I no longer “have to,”  I want to.   It’s been remarkably freeing.

To be clear, Jonathan Bailor, the program designer, still wants you to be active.  He suggests 10,000 steps a day to stay limber and heart-healthy, but really anyway you move works well.

Some days I’ll hoop, I’ve been walking everywhere, I’m about to get my bike out of the basement and tool around town when the weather gets a bit warmer, my family is talking about doing the couch to 5K program, and Pilates, of course, twice a week.  I’ve even been swinging the kettlebells around because it’s fun to do and I like how powerful they make me feel.

All this made me wonder what we all would do if we didn’t “have to” do something.  We could tap the joy of movement, we could be silly, we wouldn’t need a chest strap and a wrist watch to tell us if we burned enough calories, we wouldn’t care!  No logging miles, no expectations, just fun.

How cool is that?

Honestly, I thought my reaction to the reduced amount of exercise would be to slack off and do nothing because I was under no real obligation, but instead I’ve tapped back into what’s fun and I just do what makes me happy.  This works as a great stress reliever and a great way to unplug from my life when I need to.

Can you imagine that?  Do you think if you were told you didn’t need to exercise that you’d be a couch potato?  Or would you embrace your inner child and learn to play again?  I’d love to know your thoughts on this … it’s a different way to think.

Cheers,

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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8 Responses to Letting Go of “Have to Exercise”

  1. Jackie March 30, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Lisa, thanks so much for your post! I find that fun is my fitness motivator AND the fact I dont “have to” do it makes all the difference.
    Fitness freedom …. YAY!

  2. Benjamin Degenhardt Pilates March 30, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    This is a great post! I completely agree that scales and hear rate monitors can take the joy out of fitness. Exercise / movement is not a chore! I believe that we are movers by design, and while some may need a good push to get up off the couch in the first place, life is full of exercise if we allow it to count. Many get too caught up on the short-term goals of exercise (losing weight, toning up etc.) and forget about the long-term benefits: health and happiness.

    An exciting subject, let’s start a movement (pun intended)!

  3. Miriam March 30, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Coming back from an exhausting workout, I needed this post! Usually I don’t work out when I have to force myself into it. But with 10 pounds to loose, I have to take some action. Jut his should start with my eating, but I simply don’t have time to do somevp research for a good diet- food consumption change. Have to look into yours, Lisa!

  4. Ashley March 30, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I love this idea! I have been trying to focus more on doing things I love when it comes to working out (kickboxing) instead of things that make me miserable (hot yoga). It is amazing how much more willing I am to do a workout when it is something I actually WANT to do.

  5. KCLAnderson (Karen) March 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I think letting go of “having” to do anything is liberating. Or of saying, “I’ll never eat [insert so-called 'bad' food of choice here] again.” The minute we start making our lives harder than they have to be, the minute our lives become harder than they have to be. But we’re so programmed to believe that how it works.

  6. Lisa Johnson April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Karen, I was hoping you’d comment … I had you in the back of my mind as I was writing this … :)

  7. Katy April 12, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Great post! I love exercising and working out but seriously, walking around everywhere helps so much, keeping the weight off. When I went to Asia for a month on vacation where I went from working out 5x/week to none… and eating way too much everyday, I ended up losing 5lbs when I got home. That was because we walked everywhere (HK has one of the best transit systems). And the fact that my aunt lived on top of a hill we hiked up every night.

  8. Lisa Johnson April 12, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Katy that sounds great and possibly is part of the French secret as well …

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