29
Jan 2015

Why I don’t workout

In college I used to slog across campus in the snow in my sweat pants, Uggs and huge puffy coat at 5:30pm to the “Estrogym” to burn off the calories I had consumed during the day.  The Estrogym was a dimly lit, poorly ventilated hallway by the racketball courts where 6 elliptical trainers, 4 treadmills and 3 bikes were lined up side by side with just enough space in between, so you would just barely brush elbows as you powered through your workout.

It was called the Estrogym because female students would line up for a machine in the crowded hallway and down the cement stairwell waiting to workout, sometimes for over an hour.

Nothing about this was fun.  In fact, everyone there looked miserable.  Because we were all there for the same reason, punishment.

Punishment for eating too much, for not being thin enough, for drinking too much the night before.  It was the price we paid for gluttony and a necessary evil.

When I lived in NYC after college, it was more of the same except I got to run like a hamster on a wheel in a fancy gym.  Then one day, I got brave enough to try a group hip hop class at the gym.  I avoided them for years because I was sure that people were going to look at me and wonder, “who does that uncoordinated fat girl think she is?”

But in the class I felt alive. I was so carried away by the movement that I forgot about my fear of being judged.  The class flew by and after I felt amazing! Not that familiar feeling of “you could have pushed harder, you could have burned a hundred more calories”.

You see, when I was forcing myself to workout to lose weight, I missed the high.  It was also so easy to put it off because in the grand scheme of things, one workout did very little to move the needle on my weight loss. It was easy to just push it off to tomorrow.

But when I understood that I needed to move my body to feel happy today, it was so motivating, and above all else it becomes important. More important than my work, than my lethargy, than spending an extra hour with Marshall.  Moving my body is what allows me to be a good mother, a good coach, a good wife.

So today I want you to think about WHY you want to move your body.  Is it to improve your mood? To feel creative? To feel alive? To help your bad back?  To have fun?  Please tell us in the comments below.

And please promise me that you’ll stop working out.  It’s a dead end.

Love,

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  • Anne Bradbury

    Hi Sarah, An inspirational post as always. Thank you for such a timely reminder. I thought you might enjoy this fabulous You Tube film by ‘This Girl Can’. This Girl Can celebrates the women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get. They’re here to inspire us to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome. Enjoy this marvellous video and thanks again for your fabulous blog posts. I am so excited about the next round of LMWL this spring.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN7lt0CYwHg

    • Thank you so much for sharing this video with me and the ladies here, Anne. I’m so excited about the program this spring and love to hear our alumnis are just as excited. xo

  • This is such a beautiful post Sarah!!! So many great insights,thank you for sharing. I’ve really learned that the secret is to choose love over fear in every moment and that’s clearly what you’ve done here by choosing to move your body rather than “work out”. You are so inspiring!!!

    • Thank you Samantha. I’d love to know why you move your body and what brings you the most joy!

  • Heather

    During my maternity leave, I felt the same way, like I was at my wits end. Once I was cleared to start exercising, my daughter wasn’t sleeping for 3 hours at a time anymore and entered her fussy phase. I was naive enough to think that when I was cleared to exercise again she’d be the happy baby that would sit in her swing while I exercised in our living room (she’s my first baby and from early on she’s already taught me I was envisioning the movie version of what motherhood looked like :)). I thought going back to work would help me feel like myself again but working 9 hours, 4 days a week wasn’t doing it for me either. I realized that working and being away from the baby wasn’t the same as making time for myself. Now, while my husband gives my daughter her bath and plays with her, I have time to move and do something for me whether it’s yoga, ballet, or whatever I’m feeling. It’s not a huge chunk of time but it’s enough for me at the moment to feel recharged when I’m done.

    I really love your blog. It’s definitely helped me transition into this new chapter with a new body 🙂

    • Hi Heather! I’m proud of you for finding a routine that works for you so you can take care of you too and I love that your husband is supporting you in doing so. Great teamwork. Happy to have you here and I look forward to hearing more from you. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sarah, your post really resonates with me. For the past year I’ve been using my baby daughter and my business as an excuse for not moving more. But deep down I’m craving to feel strong in my body again. I’m petite and that often makes me feel “small” and weak. When I work out, I feel strong, powerful, confident. I finally asked my friend who is a gentle, inspiring workout coach for a weekly training session. Today’s my first session!

    Here’s to continuing to commit to that which makes us better moms, better wives, better coaches and better lovers of our own body!

    • Stefanie, have a wonderful session today. Let us know how it goes and how you are feeling after.

  • Katie

    This is so timely for me right now. My nine year old son has been telling me lately how he thinks I need to be more active. I never took it in a negative way, like he thinks I’m fat, just that he enjoys being active soooo much that he wants me to enjoy it too. It’s actually very sweet, and I’ve had it in my mind lately because I really don’t move my body much and would feel so much better if I did:). Thanks for the reminder!

    • Katie, I’d love to hear what types of activities the two of you can do together that are fun and enjoyable for you both. Let us know how things go.

  • Great post! And some very needed reminders. Although my babies are grown, I spent the past 5 days taking care of my 1 1/2 yo grandson. I love him more than anything, but forgot just how much work babies can be and how quickly you can get sucked into a depressive cycle of “there’s not enough time” and “I can’ts”. I even put my coaching and facilitating biz on auto-pilot this week and was still overwhelmed. Today I’m focused on fun ways I can move and care for myself even though we’re snowbound and stuck in the house. Thx for the reminder.

    • Hi Viki,

      I’m so happy to hear that although you weren’t able to get out of the house you still found fun ways to move your body.

  • I can totally relate Sarah! I’ve been slim all my life so exercise for me was not so much about losing weight, but up to this day I have no desire to go to a gym. I just find it boring and daunting. Lol!

    I love that you mentioned making movement a FUN exercise that you love and enjoy. That famous saying that we love what we so much that it does not feel like work or becomes just another task.

    For me, I love to roller skate. I could spend all day in a skating rink rolling around on all four wheels and learning new tricks. And whoa baby, what a total body workout it is. Since finding what works for me and what I enjoy, I stopped wasting money on yearly gym memberships that I never use.

    Thanks for sharing. Loved reading your blog as usual!

    • Sounds like so much fun, Simone! Great job finding something that feeds your soul in more ways than just another daunting workout. xo

  • Christie

    Great article that many moms can relate to. Congrats on conveying this so well. Many moms struggling with “finding the time to workout”. It needs to be a lifestyle and mindset change – just move your body and be active on a regular basis. Great job!

  • paula

    Thank you for the kind reminder we need to move our body and not work out. I love moving my body to improve my mood and to feel alive!! Moving my body helps my anxiety and depression stay at bay. I have started to love the magnificent body I have. It has been through a lot. I have had four amazing children and it will never look the same as it did when I was twenty. Im enjoying my journey and I love the way I feel and look now!! Thanks Sarah!!

  • Jessica

    This is the most wonderfully timely post. I just joined the most wonderful gym. I joined because they have a “dance camp with karaoke” class that I was so totally psyched about because it was as you said “not working out” but just having fun moving my body. Yay!

  • Thank you for this!I was sitting here this morning thinking how I should work out, I should exercise to negate everything I ate and drank yesterday but not feeling motivated. When I think about it in terms of making me feel happy I can’t wait to get my running shoes on! Such a subtle reframe but so powerful at the same time. Brilliant, Sarah!

  • I took a hip hop class in New York city that rocked my world with Malin at Crunch. Was that the one you went to also? Two months ago I started moving my body and it was life changing. It helped me get out of my funk and gave me confidence in my ability to tackle anything. These days I want to go to the gym every day and I find resting hard. When you find something that makes you feel this good you want to do it all the time but working out too much is also damaging. By the way, there’s a hip hop class Saturday at noon at ODC if you ever want to go back to your hip hop roots.

    • Thanks for sharing Angela. I have been taking some hip hop classes in San Francisco and I love how I feel after them. Such a great way to get my body moving and motivated.

  • Great post! I think I have been in that college hallway! My husband went to Williams. LOL. I broke my wrist 6 weeks ago, got surgery, and stopped moving. I should know better, but one day a few weeks ago, I woke up wondering why I felt blue. Maybe it was the cold winter days, or my casted arm, but I finally realized that because I couldn’t do my normal classes, I hadn’t moved my body at all in weeks! Since then, I created my own yoga routine that I wake up early to do, and I get the nanny to stay a little late, so I can walk and do extra physical thereapy. I can’t wait for hot yoga and zumba, but that does not mean I should stop moving today! Just found your site… Love your message!

    • You probably have been there Mia. I love how you found a routine that works for you instead of getting defeated by this small obstacle. You’ll be back to hot yoga and zumba in no time. I’m proud of you for not giving up.

  • Hannah

    I love love love this! It’s like I finally am reading the words that match what I’ve been feeling lately – working out SUCKS but I love to get in a walk or jog with my dog and do some yoga with my baby (whenever there’s a free minute!) I feel happier and like a better mom in general 🙂

    • Hi Hannah, I feel the same way. I know that when I’m taking care of myself, I do a much better job taking care of the ones I love too.

  • Ah, just love this post today Sarah. I experienced the same exact thing and mentality all through high school and college– thanks for bringing it to the light!

    • Hi Sarah, it sounds like you’ve overcome this feeling. If you have more tips than what I’ve shared above, we’d love to hear them!

  • Sarah;

    Wonderful post! I am so there with you. I love “working out”, but over the last few months noticed the focus wasn’t so much on feeling a connection with my body and helping her become strong and healthy. It was turning into a way to “fix” her. And I didn’t like it. It was severing our connection. So I let go of the gym before Christmas and simply move through yoga flows each morning. And my body is so much happier with me. I started to question this week if it was time to go back to the gym. She said no and I’ve decided to listen. She wants more movement, and more variety, but not all the pressure that going to the gym entails. So it will be yoga, some walking when it is nice, and the kettlebells when she asks for them.

    • Bravo, Jacki for listening to her. She knows what she needs and it’s so great that you’re tuning in and trusting her.

  • robynne

    this made me cry sarah. as i really realized how i haven’t been taking care of myself lately AT ALL! i haven’t been eating properly or at all and when i do eat its massive over eating or binge eating, and not exercising. i deal with bipolar and anxiety and i have not been making my health a priority if i’m being totally honest i see it as a chore. i barely have the energy to get up lately and go to work and be a happy person there that i have no energy to do anything after work or on my days off. i need to take care of myself even when i don’t want to. this really opened up my eyes thank you xoxo

    • Dear Robynne, how are you feeling now? I really want you to start taking care of yourself. I want you to commit to 3 things that you are going to do over the next week and post them here so we can all support you and cheer you on. xo

  • Sarah,
    I love love love this! Thank you so much for freely sharing your experience and feelings. It feels so good to know I’m on this journey of self-acceptance and love with an amazing group of women who are committed to being beautiful inside first!

  • Sarah

    This topic is so near to my heart. I have always exercised but after I had my first daughter and was home more it became a total necessity to me, not to lose weight but just to sweat and get a break from being a mom and do SOMETHING for me. I continued to exercise all through my second pregnancy for that same reason and with my second baby it became even more important to move my body on a daily basis as I had two kids under 3 and a busy job. I recently got into Vinyasa Yoga which I love and practice almost daily. I move heaven and earth in my schedule to make it happen but for me there is no price that I can put on that feeling of wellness that it brings me. People constantly tell me that I work out too much or that I’m obsessed however it enables me to fill up so that I am better able to give to my kids and my family. I love all your posts – thank you for being so real!

    • I love what you said about how it enables you to fill up so that you are better able to give to your kids and family. This is so important for us all to recognize and keep in mind when we start letting our busyness overcome our needs to take care of ourselves.

  • Rachel Zack

    Hi Sarah,
    Love you. This is still something I struggle with. I have never found the exercise I love to do and so therefore don’t move on a regular basis. I know I would feel better and have more energy if I found something I enjoyed doing- I’ve just never quite gotten there. My husband and I found this new gym that opened in our neighborhood that has group classes so we are taking a free trial class this week- maybe it will be amazing!

  • THIS is soooooooo spot on Sarah! Soooooo incredibly insightful- I believe and I know this to be soooo true! By telling yourself I NEED to workout because I am fat, you are putting yourself down. When you put yourself down you are creating negative reinforcement, which we know does not work! I HATED working out for a while, but the minute I shifted my thinking that I deserved to be healthy and I wanted to feel fit I found myself CRAVING a workout!

    I lost 73 pounds, yet by the BMI chart I am still obese. But I am healthy and I like the way I look. So to hell with the damn chart! Someone asked if I was gonna lose more weight and be like a fitness model, I said no. I look good, I feel healthy and I kick ass.

    I recently did the Tough Mudder, a REALLY hard obstacle race.

    I would LOVE LOVE to meet you in person someday Sarah! I feel we would be good friends!

    Also I would love to work with you. I hope to inspire as many people as I can! I have a food blog and I try and make healthy food fun! While also having some amazing indulgences from time to time. LIFE is too short to eat boring food!

    • Sophia, I’d love to check out your blog. Will you post a link here in the comments? And bravo, woman! We need more of this. I can feel your confidence radiating through your words. I absolutely LOVE it.

  • Oh my God. This post just made me ball my eyes out. I needed this so much. I have been through hell and back with my body and I’m trying so hard to learn how to make myself happy, and what it means to be there for myself. For whatever reason this topic has been coming up for me. Feelings of guilt, presentness, ambition, looking forward, jealousy – all of it. So I went on an hour jog/walk around my lake, got back and read THIS!
    As always thank you so much.

    Bethany
    P.S. The link to your Live More Weigh Less image isn’t working 🙁

    • Hey Bethany! How are you feeling now? I feel like you would LOVE Live More Weigh Less and it would be so perfect for you. You can get on the waiting list at http://livemoreweighless.com. I want to help you release all of those feelings you are experiencing. I’d love to know what 1 thing you are going to commit to doing this week is and how did you feel after your jog? If it helped release some of the guilt you have been feeling I’d love for you to continue doing this when you feel those thoughts creeping in. Think about something you can do that brings you joy when you start feeling down so you don’t get stuck in a negative cycle. Cheering you on!

  • Hi Sarah-great post! I move my body because it’s how I become known to me. I’ve been practicing yoga for a few years now and enjoy it and recently started running again. I do like walks, bike rides and am itching to go to a dance class regularly. For me, workouts are time to understand and explore parts of me like-hmm I really like hip openers in yoga- guess it’s mean I do enjoy receiving pleasure, I just have to do it more and find a way it works for me. Or yes, I can run but I just have to foam roll afterwards which teaches me that I can do “challenging” things in life but need to take extra care of myself in the process. So it helps me figure out and become intimate with myself. Thanks again for this! xo 🙂

    • Awo, this is so good. I love how you are identifying what you need in order to best take care of yourself.

  • Oh Sarah, another fantastic post. I too try to focus on exercise as being movement and a form of self care nowadays. There was a period of my life where I focused on numbers and working out so much that I became very unwell from that addiction. I know now that it’s about having fun and giving my body what it’s craving. As soon as I slip down the numbers game or punishment path again, I just gently remind myself to return to my heart and what it wants, as opposed to what my head is telling me I need. Thanks for such a beautiful post that I resonated with deeply 🙂

    • Naomi, I’m so happy this post landed so deeply with you and I love the gentle reminders you give yourself when you’re starting to feel off track.

  • Trey

    hi, I just happen to be a personal trainer in NYC, so your message hits home. Moving your body in a fun and challenging fashion helped you realize you can actually enjoy being in your body. Kudos to you!
    I’m also Stephanie’s cousin

    • Hi Trey, what are some things you do as a personal trainer to make “working out” more fun and enjoyable for your clients?

  • Julie C

    Sarah,
    Thanks for this post. I am not at the point of taking myself to a movement class yet, though I used to take NIA and yoga classes regularly, and also lift weights. However, I do walk a mile or two just about every day. When I don’t, I pay a price. When I keep my commitment to myself to walk, I am rewarded with lots of fresh air, stress release, time in nature with deer and other wildlife. My body feels cared for and I am relieved of stress and I feel better and am in a better mood. Just knowing that I moved today feels good because it means I loved my body enough to give it/her what it/she needs.Your commitment to taking one yoga class (and not trying to make huge sweeping changes) is so inspiring because we can all take one manageable step today to nourish our bodies with movement. You made me remember how much I loved Zumba classes and how much fun I had. Because of your post, I am going to commit to taking my body to Zumba for the fun of it. Thank you!

  • sarah,

    my first visit + i am hooked!
    your blog post is stellar, simple and totally on point.

    my fav part is “i remembered to take care of her”; we often neglect ourselves in our “busy” lives that we forget that the mind/body connection is THE number one task on our life long TO-DO list.

    Looking forward to clicking through more daily doses of wisdom.

    • Welcome Michelle! So happy you’re here and yes, please do dive in. I have so much more to share with you all this year. xo

  • Alexis

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks so much for this awesome post. It’s beautifully written, and I loved it because as with all your writing, it’s beautifully raw and honest. I have felt the same way so many times…punishing myself on the treadmill, suffering through the stair master, waking up early and forcing myself to the gym with dead legs and a mind full of dread. For me, exercising in that way brought no joy or peace or endorphins. So I’d begin to hate the gym, avoid it and fear it, and would find myself in a 3 week or month long no-workout slump, and would subsequently feel terrible about myself and about so many areas of my life.
    With you as an inspiration, I made a resolution this year to be active in ways that excite and inspire me. I tried a dance class for the first time– a crazy Caribbean one — and although I was so nervous to be judged for my awkward uncoordinated moves, I had the best time and have been going back whenever I can! With this shift in thinking, and by using my activity as a reward and a way of taking care of myself and not an extension of negative thoughts about my body, I’ve been slowly losing weight, and more importantly, gaining joy and stability and a feeling of calm.
    Thank you SO much for your wonderful wisdom and for the community you’ve created. Following you has shifted my perspective so much, and I’m so grateful.
    Best,
    Alexis

    • Alexis. This made my day. It’s such an honor to have you hear and to support you on your journey. Keep it up!

  • Thank you so much for this beautiful post, Sarah. As with all your writing, it is inspirational, honest and raw. I have felt this way so many times, and I saw my workouts as an extension of the negative thoughts about my body. It made me loathe the gym, and I would skip weeks or months of exercise because I dreaded the thought of it.
    With you as my inspiration, I made a resolution this year to be active in a new way — to move my body because I cherish it, not because I want it to change. I’ve already seen positive results in my appearance, but more importantly, taking care of myself in this way has made me so much more happy, and I walk taller and more confidently. Thank you so much for all the inspiration and encouragement you provide, it has meant so much to me.

  • Betsy

    HI Sarah,
    Thanks for your post today. I believe 100% in not doing things you don’t like so I gave up the gym a long time ago. I swim kayak, walk my dog, I play racquetball with my husband (and try to beat the pants off him while he giggles and we both fall out like total dorks on the floor), I stretch and once in a while do yoga…but I do something everyday. I have to and if I don’t here’s what happens: inability to manage stress, anxiety, poor sleep, greater risk of re-occurring back pain, oh yeah, and my jeans don’t fit right. Here’s what happens when I do: vastly increased sense of well being, less trouble getting and staying asleep, better sex, better attitude, better skin, better eating habits, more likely to drink the right amount of water, nicer, feel and look better, less or no back pain…find out what you love to do and mindset it to, this is for me, this is my wine, my chocolate, my indulgence. I love the story of your journey to get to that place, thank you for sharing it.

    • Thank you for sharing Betsy! I love how you have such a variety of go to things to do to bring movement into your life and it sounds like they all bring you the right amount of pleasure you need in the moment. xo

  • Heather

    I move my body to feel strong. I move to help my brain manage anxiety and depression. I move to feel excited about my physical achievements. I move to give me energy. I move as it makes me a happier person and girlfriend. I ok the camaraderie with the women in my classes. And my partner and i often go to the pub or for a take-out after on a Friday a just because we can!

    • These are all wonderful reasons Heather. Great mantras to keep in mind when you’re moving your body too.

  • Exactly!

    Movement is the best, it’s not ” working out” it’s all about exploring your body and taking care of yourself.
    Movement isn’t meant as a punishment- it’s a gift to release any tension or pains especially that could be emotional.

    I realized this a few months ago and have shared my experience with many girl friends struggling to find peace.
    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    • Love this Dee. What are some things you and your girlfriends do instead of hitting the gym to move your bodies?

  • I used to workout until I hit a certain number of calories burned. I did these crazy high intensity workouts, some I loved, and others I dreaded. I never really stuck to a regimen or a routine and would constantly flip flop from being “thin” to being “lumpy.” Then came LMWL and the notion that I didn’t need to count calories. That I didn’t need to kill myself to be happy with my body. Somewhere in the 8 week master class, I found a really fun workout that involved weights and balance and a little bit of yoga and suddenly I was in my zone. 6 months of that and my body was certainly changing. More than that, I actually felt stronger. I’m kind of finicky in just about everything in life so naturally, I got bored of having to do the same routine all the time. One of the girls I met through the LMWL 28 day challenge turned me on to Blogilates and I’ve been hooked ever since. Cassey Ho is right in the same vein as LMWL and is so flippin adorable and generally silly that I end up laughing through the routines. I’m actually in shape and I workout everyday because it’s fun and I know that when I work out, I feel better today and tomorrow. Even as I type this I’m gearing up to start the new calendar. Mind you! I’ve committed myself to just tackling one video a day (Cassey gives you five) and just going from there. Some days I’ll do all 5, others all I can handle is the 1. Either way, I’m sticking to an actual routine and I’m not bored with it because she switches it up so much.
    I currently have a mild sprain in my ankle so I’m taking it easy but I wont just stop moving my body. My body deserves a little more movement after whatever adventure I’ve taken her on that day. 🙂

    • Erika, this is fantastic and you’ve been sticking with it for so long, that goes to show that when you find something you love, it makes moving your body a part of your day that you look forward to. So proud of you!

  • Hi Sarah,

    I’m so glad that you found something you love.

    I often think of why I don’t work out — it’s an almost daily obsession.

    My body is screaming for more exercise.My body said “GO RUN” and my mind “NO WAY that’s going to happen”. I didn’t tap but did change beliefs through another modality. I was scared to stared to start running because I was always last at sports. I also had a belief that I had to be last. It was no fun. Changed that and went for a run. I discovered(make that remembered) that that day that I love running when I have somewhere to go like the hardware store. Going nowhere just doesn’t excite me. That wast the best run I had in years. Then I went back to running in cirlces.. and you guessed it… my body is screaming again.

    More work still.

    Love & Light,

    Nathalie

    • Hey Nathalie! You’ll get there. Also explore other ways of moving your body. You may find that she likes dancing or hiking just as much as running and my hope is that you will feel equally excited to do them too!

  • Becky

    I am enjoying lifting heavy the power I feel, the labwork results all back in normal proud of this and laughing as I am healthy and beating anorexia. Oddly my stupid scale number makes me laugh it puts me in almost obese but body fat is 21% amazing for 56 Loving it but occasionally ED does hit but with support I kick it to curb fairly quickly. Yes, I still find I need accountability so I have a trainer still. Life is great

    • Yes- it’s so important to find something that feels good and empowers you. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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