Exercise Should Be Fun, or We Won't Do It
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Human beings are designed to get into action and move. We’re not meant to be sedentary creatures.
I love exercise—it keeps me alive and makes me happy!
Exercise is crucial for both mental and physical health, including weight loss. But I don’t have a breakthrough exercise program that will help you lose 19 pounds in two weeks.
Once I lost 14 pounds in 72 hours by skipping rope in a plastic suit and then spending over four hours in a sauna to make a fighting weight in a thai boxing competition; I went from 154 to 140.
It was gruesome. Luckily, after I weighed in I had about 12 hours to recover. After I participated in the fight I did some binge eating to compensate for my exhaustion and deprivation. I ate so much after my fight because of the deprivation I had put myself through for two months that I gained 28 pounds in two days.
Much of the weight I lost was just straightforward water weight. I had sucked myself dry of water by using old-school fighter techniques taught to me by my trainers. So it wasn’t surprising that when I started to hydrate again I put on that much more water weight so quickly.
The most sustainable lifestyle program is to think of your weight loss as something that you’re going to master over the course of 12 months. It would involve the typical amount of weight loss that a person could handle over a longer period of time. It would also include all of the patterns a person would have to change to ensure that those patterns would become routines.
A crucial lifestyle routine for ensuring long term, sustainable weight loss, as well as for ensuring good health as it relates to all other facets of your life experience, is the pattern of regular exercise.
A person must make sure that during every day of their life they have a certain amount of physical exercise. It’s extremely important—it’s a practice that will serve to balance a person’s entire being.
Our bodies don’t function properly if they don’t have physical exercise very regularly, even daily. This should be common knowledge. Many know it to be true; they know that it’s simply the way our bodies are designed. But perhaps in this day and age that hasn’t been talked about enough.
We often get on short-term exercise programs in much the same way as we embrace fad diets. But significant physical movement should be part of our activities each and every day. That is crucial not only as it relates to our physical health but also as it relates to our outlook on life.
For a machine as complicated as an airplane or a human being not to break down, the parts had to be designed to stay in motion somehow. An airplane has some downtime and gets mechanical maintenance. Human beings rest and go to sleep, and their bodies have biological mechanical processes for maintenance during those times.
The right amount of physical exercise keeps the muscles strong, the bones dense, the hormones flowing, the sweat dripping, the removal of body toxins happening, and the emotional chemistry getting into the state where it needs to be.
A body in motion stays in motion. That's applicable to planetary objects and to the human body as well. If you keep yourself moving with the right amount of exercise, combined with the right amount of rest and a wholesome diet, you will do very well.
You must understand that fitness is a mental practice as well as a physical one. Part of the mental aspect of it is making conscious choices to take breaks every day in order to engage in physical activity—breaks from work, breaks from religious study, breaks from interactions with other people.
You must also understand that if you are finding it to be a painful struggle just to start exercising regularly then there is likely a psychological reason behind that difficulty. Avoiding doing what you know is best for you is maladaptive behavior. To overcome that behavior over the long run, it may be necessary for you to do a lot of writing in your journal and also discuss the issues with a good therapist.
In the meantime, you can take action and create new behavior patterns. You must ask yourself what it’s going to take to motivate you to take necessary steps. What’s going to motivate you to get into a new habit of regular exercise for the first week?
Human beings usually don’t like changing in this way because it requires discomfort. Discomfort from exercise is not a satisfactory excuse to stop doing it. The only discomfort you’ll feel will be some aches and pains from great workouts and possibly some hunger pains. But both things will go away in time. Hunger pains are almost always not related to deficiencies in nutrition. Unless you’ve been starving for quite some time, these pains are usually associated with gas pressures throughout the digestive system that need releasing. They come out when our diet starts to clean up.
Granted, exercise entails a certain amount of physical discomfort at times. But many people don’t realize a vitally important truth about exercise: Exercise can, and should, be fun!
Everyone has a different comfort level of how much exercise they can handle. But if you observe children, you’ll note that they are lazy to do anything that doesn’t feel fun and playful. If you hate exercise, you’ve got to retrain yourself: You’ll have to find a lot of inner strength to start from ground zero. But I highly recommend that whatever physical exercise you start with, make sure that it’s fun. You’ll be more motivated to play and have fun instead of doing something that you consider to be hard, painful, or boring.
The possibilities of things to do as “fun” exercises are endless. And all you need to do is pick whatever it is that you enjoy that involves a significant amount of physical movement and deep breathing. Do you like brisk walks? Do you like to jog? Do you like to swim? Do you like to surf? Do you like dance-centered aerobics? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, or any similar questions that you can come up with, then just do it!
Some find it difficult to just begin exercising, even if it's an activity that they enjoy. The reason could simply be laziness. Or it could be fear. Some people are afraid to get physical because they don’t want to be sore or they don’t want to get hurt. Or they just don’t know what they’re afraid of. But they’re afraid of something, because they don’t like change.
If laziness or fear is your issue, you have some work that you have to do on your own. I have a technique that I found to be very useful regarding this. Whenever I had something pending that I really didn’t want to do but it had to get done, I would write out what I had to do in my journal and then pray for strength to get it done. If you asked me during the years that I would work like that who I was praying to, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. But the act of prayer simply worked to get me motivated most of the time (but not always).
The scientific community knows that a person needs to exert a lot of energy towards their exercise programs. No matter what age a person is, the right amount of exercise is that at which it is somewhat difficult. There are exceptions to the rule, depending on a person’s profession or personal circumstances at a given time.
For example, a 23-year-old lunatic professional fighter might train a grueling six hours a day. That much training would kill the average person, but that’s what that 23-year-old needs to do. But for a 93-year-old person who’s had a stroke, walking down a hallway using a walker might be the appropriate type and amount of exercise.
Exercise will be phenomenal for you once you get into the pattern of doing it. The idea is to drive yourself to feel the deep desire of wanting to move every day in some way that you know will be beneficial to you. Human beings are designed to get into action and move—our bodies were designed to endure a lot of movement. We’re not meant to be sedentary creatures.
Set up an exercise program in your daily life that makes you exert a lot of force and that makes you feel tired. Don’t do this motivated by the way it’ll make your abs look chiseled in the sunlight. Do this because of how it affects your mind, your thinking patterns, and your emotional world. It will build your sense of self-esteem, it will set off the right type of hormones that will ensure mood stability, and it will improve the state of your heart and lungs. And it will help you lose weight, provided that you do it in conjunction with other measures.
Exercises as complete as good yoga programs are a way to ensure that you get a chance to move all of your body parts—from your toes, to your spine, to your neck, to your hips, your knees, and your fingers. Yoga is a very complete system of exercise to practice.
I am also a huge fan of walking and running. And depending on your overall health level, weight resistance training as part of a weekly program can be beneficial.
Pilates is a very specific regimen and it can make your body very strong and toned as well.
There are so many different complete systems available, including Thai Chi, Jiu Jitsu, and American boxing. You should choose something that is fun to you and is something that you will stick with. It may be enough for you to get on the treadmill and run for 45 minutes then do a 15-minute weight routine. Or you may be a person who loves to cycle, swim, or surf; it’s all good. Just move and do it.
You may be an older person, or your weight may limit your activities. If this is the case, there’s still much that you can do. Walking, stair climbing, sit-ups by the bedside, or doing squats while watching the news on TV are a few options. Just don’t let your limitations be an excuse to let yourself become sedentary.
Prominent psychologists have noted that happiness is a conscious choice that all individuals can make, even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. You can certainly make a conscious choice to enjoy strenuous physical exercise, focusing on the benefits that you will receive from it in both the long run and the short run.