>Stop what you’re doing!

Edit: Stop what you’re doing – if you hate it.

I hate exercise. There, I said it. To be more specific, I hate deliberate exercise. I like walking, or jumping, or whatever – if I naturally have to do it. But deliberate exercise with no intrinsic goal (e.g. lifting a weight, running on a treadmill, etc.) is awful. It’s just not fulfilling.

I realized I wasn’t crazy after watching a TedTalk about how humans are suited for reward-based exercise. So sit-ups are torturously boring, while snowboarding, playing baseball, or even just putting away groceries, are much more fun. There’s a point to it. 

Now yoga seems to be somewhere in between those two kinds of exercise. It is somewhat boring and repetitive, as it all takes place on a mat. However, there are rewards like relaxation, quieting the mind, etc. I’ve had many good experiences in yoga classes, but the story I want to tell is not about one of those experiences 😀

The Story

I hadn’t exercised in a while, and I wanted to try a new yoga studio that was closer to home. So that evening, I randomly picked a class and walked over with my mat and $12. According to the website, the room would be heated to 80 degrees, which did not sound fun. But it was also listed as a beginners class, so I wasn’t too worried.

When I arrive, the class was fairly large, the room was spacious, and the temperature was tolerably warm. But apparently, my idea of “beginner” was a bit different from the instructor’s, who had the entire class doing various kinds of headstands within a few minutes. Fearing for my precious neck (& scrawny muscles), I simply waited it out. After this point, the instructor managed to spend most of the class adjusting me in poses I thought I knew. AND I had a substantial head cold, so the breathing techniques for the evening was quietly gasping for air 😉 To say the least, it was not relaxing. I slipped out at the end, feeling like a big, fat, out of shape, runny-nosed dork.

However, on the way home, I came to a simple resolution: which was to no longer do things I didn’t enjoy, just because I was “supposed” to. Who says everyone needs yoga to relax? Who says you have to exercise when you’re sick? I walked along not with shame, but with clarity – and a head full of ideas for things I’d rather start doing more often. When I arrived home I immediately got to work on one of those things, which I’d been hesitant about for weeks.

You Already Know What You Need

Literally any experience that makes you feel uncomfortable or out of place will cause anxiety – I really proved this at my paradoxically stressful yoga class.

So the point is, you can’t just follow what others recommend, Google all the answers, and do what your friends do. What’s true for one person is not always true for another. You might even read this article and think, “That’s completely wrong. I disagree.” And that’s great because it shows you know your beliefs and your personal needs.

Health is much more simple than we humans will ever allow it to be. More than salads, more than yoga, more than weird spas, organic lotions, detox pills, pharmaceuticals, protein powders, gym memberships, and tea tree oil – your mood impacts your health so profoundly, and so much more that anything else ever could. You could probably exchange all the things above for a good mood and get far better results.

Fulfillment comes in so many shapes and sizes that you can’t afford to ignore your instincts/preferences. If point B is fulfillment, then a billion point A’s exist to get you there. Whether it’s how you choose to exercise, what career path you pursue, or anything else: If something doesn’t sound exciting, it’s usually not for you. Don’t force it. Let it go and wait for your interest to spark – you’ll know when it happens.

Sometimes we all need an incredibly obvious reminder: if you hate what you’re doing, stop doing it. As Steve Brule would say, “for your health.”