Do You Have a Friend Like This?

dont-like-it-dont-do-it

You may have a well-meaning friend who is excited to involve you in their activities. Jen Sinkler posted the above exchange in a blog entry, “If you don’t like it, don’t do it.” It’s nice to be included, and if the answer is, “OK! Let me know if you ever want to!” that’s one thing, but sometimes the answer is a bit guilt-trippy.

If you are making a new commitment to exercise, you will meet many people who will say that exercise must “challenge” you — or even that “goals that don’t scare you are not big enough.” They may even tell you that a hesitation to buy into this view is “just making excuses.” In fact, this is something you get to decide for yourself. If you get excited about improving your performance, and even decide you want to compete — or just test yourself in an event with official scoring — that’s wonderful. It’s also wonderful if you’d frankly rather read a book, and you also happen to have a regular exercise plan.

Sinkler talked about this on Twitter, where others joined in to say things like, “You don’t seem like someone who ever backs away from a challenge.” Jen talks about the “tough it out” culture in fitness and how it sets people up for failure and burnout. Another problem with the “tough it out” culture is that it defines “working out” as something unpleasant or even punishing, whose best goal is performance in competition with others, and those definitions are neither true nor helpful. We all need to have exercise in our lives, and there’s no requirement to get punished in the process. On the contrary, you’ll have a more consistent experience — and probably get more out of it — if you skip the punishment.

Jen Sinkler enjoys competition but not running, biking, or swimming. I enjoy running, biking, and swimming but not competition. There are lots of ways to have exercise in your life in a way that you enjoy, that helps you grow, and that makes you feel better and do more.

What is your favorite way to get exercise into your life? Is there something you’d like to know more about?

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