Messy Breakups with Exercise

my dance class at High School Day at the Central Pennsylvania GSA Leadership Summit
High School Students at my dance class during the Central Pennsylvania GSA Leadership Summit.        Rock on y’all!

In some of the talks I give, I talk about movement/exercise.  One of the things I talk about is that many people have had messy breakups with exercise.

Before we get too far into this, let me be clear – there is a mistaken notion that floats around sometimes that because I talk about being a dancer and fathlete and I talk about what the research says about fitness, that I am “promoting” exercise or I think that people “should” exercise.

Sometimes this notion happens because I haven’t written things as clearly as I could have, sometimes I think it’s because people have issues around exercise and just seeing discussion about it triggers them, which is totally understandable given how much it gets shoved down our throats and the horrible experiences many of us have had (President’s Physical Fitness Test – I’m looking at you.)  Let me take this opportunity to clarify – I do not care if anyone else exercises. I am fully aware that there are people who don’t enjoy exercise, my partner is one of them, and I have no judgment about it at all.

The short version of why I don’t care is that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not exercise dependent, and other people’s prioritization of their health and the path they choose to get there are none of my, or anyone else’s business, also Underpants Rule. The long version can be found here.

Many of the people who I meet when I’m out speaking tell me that they’d like to engage in movement but they just hate it, or feel blocked around it, are people who experienced messy breakups with exercise because exercise was used as a way to mistreat them, to punish them for their body size, or because they were forced to do exercise that they didn’t like, or were shamed because they weren’t “good enough” at the exercise. (Junior high school gym class, I am looking at you now.) All of this is complete and utter bullshit

So if you hate to exercise, that’s completely cool and understandable, lots of people do.  Even if exercise has health benefits, that doesn’t mean that anyone is required to do it, or that exercising creates some sort of health guarantee wherein you are immortal unless you get hit by a bus.  Besides, there are lots of things that are shown to improve our odds for health and we can choose some of them if we want, but aren’t all obligated to do any of them. When we insist that people “owe” society healthy habits it very quickly becomes a slippery slope.  If we “owe” society exercise do we also “owe” it 8 hours of sleep a night?  A vegan diet?  A paleo diet?  To quit drinking? To not go skiing or play soccer or anything else that could get us hurt?  Who gets to make these mandates?  I recommend that people not try to tell others how to live unless they are super excited about someone else telling them how to live.

The reason I talk about the research around fitness is that I believe we are constantly lied to and I think we have the right to review the research ourselves. We are told that exercise will lead to weight loss when the research suggests no such thing.  Lied to that exercise won’t make us healthier unless it makes us thinner.  Lied to that we have to do hours of specific things in order to get benefit from it.  Those things aren’t true – the research shows that about 30 minutes of moderate activity about 5 days a week can have many health benefits for many people, and that people experience health benefits with less movement than that as well.  That doesn’t mean that we owe anybody exercise, and, again, it doesn’t give any guarantees when it comes to health.

So if you had a messy break up with exercise, you have lots of choices.  One choice is just not to do it.  Another option is that maybe you decide that you believe what the research says about the health benefits and you want those benefits so you find some forms of movement that you hate less than other forms of movement and do them.  You may believe what the research says and choose not to exercise.  You may decide that you think the research is crap.

Maybe you get a local pharmacy or clinic to take a baseline of your metabolic numbers, do the movement for a couple months and then see if there’s any change in how you feel or your numbers.  Maybe you work toward a specific goal (picking up a grand kid, walking or rolling to the mailbox, doing a 5k whatever.)

I also wish people would stop encouraging us to set unrealistic goals or think that their goals should be everyone’s goals.  I think that too many athletes think that everyone must feel like them – since they love to exercise everyone else can love it too!  I think that’s bullshit. I, for example, hate long distance running.  I’ve heard people talk about getting a “runner’s high” but the only runner’s high I ever got was when I get stopped running.  I ran a ton when I played soccer as a kid so if I was going to learn to love it, it would have happened already.  Recently I walked a marathon.  I signed up as a walker in a marathon that had no time limit and I took forever to finish.  My realistic goal was to cross the finish line and get a medal.  I did that.  People said that it shouldn’t count because I walked or I took too long, or I should have set a different goal or whatever – fuck them, I crossed the finish line, I got my medal.  Achievement unlocked.  You get to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it.

If you hate exercise and you decide to do it anyway, you can try to make it suck less by picking activities you don’t hate (gardening? dancing in your living room?  video game that incorporates movement? window shopping?), doing it in an environment that’s comfortable for you (indoors and temperature controlled? at night and out of the sun?) changing activities frequently, playing music, watching television, reading a book, talking on the phone (when I do flexibility training I often do several of those things at once to try to stave off the boredom).  Maybe you had a messy breakup with exercise, but whether you try to kiss and make up or file for divorce because of irreconcilable differences is entirely up to you and it’s your business and nobody else’s.

This post was inspired by Leah Bee who was at the NECHA/NYSHA conference (A semi-annual combined meeting of State College Health Advisors) where I was a Featured Speaker  She took my mention of mess break-ups with exercise and, excuse the pun, ran with it.  Her amazing and inspirational blog about her journey inspired my blog today. Check it out here!

If you want some support around movement with no diet talk or negative body talk (or you just want to hang out and read the forums, watch the videos and look at the pictures), you might check out the Fit Fatties Forum.  If you’re looking for a fun way to engage in movements and get cool prizes, March first is the last day for Early Bird Discounts on the Fit Fatties Virtual Decathlon.

Like my blog?   Here’s more stuff!

My new column for Ms. Fit Magazine is out – I interviewed Virgie Tovar, Hanne Blank, and Rebecca Weinstein for the article “Jiggle is Hot:  Exploring Sex in a Fat Body

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

Fit Fatties Virtual Events:  If you’re looking for a fun movement challenge that was created to work just for you, you can check it out here.  There’s still time to get in on Early Bird Rates.

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

33 thoughts on “Messy Breakups with Exercise

  1. I’ve had several messy breakups with exercise. I was always active and athletic when I was a child. I ran fast and I would hang off tree brunches like a monkey. LOVED it. Several things happened. When I was forced to become body-conscious at around the age of 13, I was also introduced to the idea that people have issues with seeing my body in motion. Random little insensitive remarks, mostly from peers, teamed up with no good body-positive foundation to lean on, did the job. I became

    1. Oops, hit the post button too quick. Continuing!

      I became very self-aware and physical activity made me feel awkward and exposed. Later on, whenever I’d go to gym, it’d be to try to lose weight. My parents would pay for the membership, for me to lose weight (not to get fit, no one really cared for that). The sad truth is though – I was only able to enjoy exercise when I was eating well, when I had enough energy to get through a dancing class without feeling like I’m about to faint. But then I would not lose any weight (and my parents would let me know that my workouts are not “working”). I’d get toned, but not thinner. So it was always this struggle. Enjoy working out, but not get expected weight loss “results”, or struggle through every class and lose weight, but barely have energy to even drag my ass to class next time.

      It’s changing now, finally. I’m getting back that same feeling I had when I was running around wild or dancing at the age of 7 and simple enjoying the feel of it, with no strings attached.

      1. Sounds similar to me!

        I loved swimming. I was on the swim team for years. But I was working out 3 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week and still a size 14, and eventually I got this weird idea in my head that why was I doing this if it wasn’t “working”? A bully of a coach also contributed to my decision to leave the team, but a big part of it was “why bother exercising if you don’t get smaller?” Exercising because it was fun or good for you sans weight loss seemed oddly counterintuitive.

  2. If PE in school was my only experience of exercise I can tell you flat out I would still be glued to my parents’ couch today. Nothing like those experiences to instill a lifelong hatred of exercise. And if the President’s Fitness Test had been in place when I was in school, I might still be waiting for my high school diploma at the ripe old age of 51.

    Every gym teacher I ever had insisted I wasn’t trying if I wasn’t good at everything. I’m not flexible. My balance is poor. Running does not come naturally to me. My upper body strength is… not very. Oh, and most of the students thought the main goal of every sport was to find a way to hit me in the head with the projectile involved as many times as possible. Teachers who seemed to have eyes in the backs of their heads about other things never seemed to notice that one.

    I’m profoundly grateful that I did not learn to swim in gym class, but at the local public pool. I’m glad my mother didn’t get her first driver’s license until I was in my teens, because it made me walk a lot, and I still love to walk. I like to dance to whatever music I have playing, hike the stairs in my house, do wall push-ups, and laugh uproariously (Hey! It has physical as well as emotional benefits!) often. Haphazard, but fairly frequently.

    But that’s me. Those are my choices. If someone else wants to lie on the sofa all day or prefers team sports or spends two hours a day at the gym, that’s their choice. Pick your activity (or lack thereof) of choice, and I’ll be happy to back you to the hilt.

    I don’t owe anyone my health. You don’t owe anyone your health. We all get to make our own minds up about what we wish to do and why.

  3. Does the Fit Fatties address disability in any way? Currently my disabilities sanity watchers points are very low and I do not have enough to sign in, if there will be no mention of disability/chronic illness/invisible illness. One can be fit to a degree and be disabled at the same time, as I’m sure you know.

    1. Hi There,

      We do try to address disability. It is included in our diversity statement and when it comes to activities like the virtual decathlon and such we worked hard to be include events that would work for people of various dis/abilities and also tried to be clear that we encourage people to modify anything and everything to suit them. We also moderate for inclusive language. Does that answer your question? Just let me know if it doesn’t or if there is anything that I can do to make sure that you feel comfortable and welcomed in the forum. Thanks!


  4. My messy breakup with exercise came when after several months of working out regularly at the gym, doing 1 – 2 miles per day several days a week on the treadmill, I hurt my knee. I didn’t know it yet, but the reason the treadmill was the only cardio I could easily do w/out massive pain was that I had undiagnosed fibromyalgia. That’s also why my knee got hurt. Too tight muscles pulled the patella out of position. This is something I am dealing with again now.

    Since then, I’ve just lost more and more mobility and it sucks. Pain makes it horrible, but on top of it being hard to be motivated to do something that will cause pain, there’s the fear of hurting myself.

    I start physical therapy – again – on Monday. The last time, the therapist had no idea how to handle fibro pain but blamed, gasp, my weight. She wanted me to go to a place that specializes in PT for bariatric patients. Which, I might’ve been willing to do, except for one little problem. The facility is like an hour each way from where I live. Not only would that mean basically a 3+ hr commitment several times a week, but driving triggers my pain. So all the driving for 45 min of therapy seems pretty counterproductive (and my doctor agreed).

    I am nervous, but I’d like to make up with exercise, so I hope it works.

    1. Well fibro is non-weight related. I’ve got a friend who’s like skin and bone and has debilitating pain. She’s also allergic to animal products which makes eating out a hassle, but sometimes we get together.

  5. Great post and can I say that though others don’t get what you mean about exercise, I always have done. I personally think you are very clear that any exercise is for each individual to decide on for their own CHOICE and in their own way. I’ve always hated organised exercise/sports (was rubbish at sports at school&worried about my glasses getting broken!) but have always enjoyed walking and great distances too, possibly made easier as I’ve never been a driver so always relied on public transport to get around and many times, if it wasn’t unpractical, it was easier to walk to places, than to try to get a bus/train fit in with my time restraints etc.

    Only snag is, since 2004 when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, the walking started to become more difficult, though I carried on for about 3 years, though slowed down and did less. Unfortunately, the Fibro got worse and I also was found to have Arthritis and other conditions, needing a hip replacement at age 48, along with crippling fatigue levels, this has changed things drastically. But, having said that, i have tried to come to terms with this and have to remind myself, I don’t have to prove anything to others, don’t have to justify what I’m unable to do or explain it. Being me, I still push myself too much and from what I’ve heard, am more active than others with Fibro and maybe Arthritis & Scoliosis. so much so, feel that I’m questioned a bit too closely on how much I do!! I know that I do what I’m able to do, what i want to do and though I do overdo it at times and pay for that for days afterwards, it’s my choice.

    Was reading a patronising article in the newly “revamped” Arthritis magazine that I have subscribed to ( have now cancelled this!) titled, “How to keep Moving”. The end paragraph that really bugged me is, “A healthy balanced diet keeps joints well-nourished and supple. It;s also the key to keeping weight under control, which helps with pain management, says Simon (a physiotherapist) It’s a virtuous circle-the better you feel, the healthier you eat and the more you move-and the better you feel!” Last exclamation mark his and not mine.

    Marion, UK

  6. I broke up with exercise when I started the path of FA. Until then, and although I hated it, I had force myself to go to the gym on and off all my life just to loose weight, and never found any joy in it. So when I decided I wasn´t gonna keep trying to become thin, I cancelled my gym membership with a big smile on my face. I felt free.
    However, after almost a year now, I recognize that I felt better when I exercised -had more upper body strenght, could walk longer distances, etc. So I´ve been trying to start moving again in ways I enjoy, such as walking, doing zumba and yoga. The thing is, the more physical activity I do, the faster my mind goes back to the “losing weight” mentality.
    I guess it´s gonna take time to train myself to not go there, but right now doing exercise and/or hearing about other people´s exercise rutine is very triggering for me.

  7. When I re-started exercise (after a very active youth) I found that exercise was a lot less not-fun if I did not treat it as fun, but as maintenance.

    I do not enjoy changing the tyres on my car twice a year, but I dislike hitting a tree on a snowy day even more. Same, I had no enthusiasm at all for weight training (it grew on me since, though), but even less for limited mobility and permanent back pain.

    “Useful” goes a long way with me.

    1. I do the same thing! I have ADD, and there are many studies that indicate that regular exercise (especially exercise that is mentally as well as physically challenging, like yoga, martial arts, dance, or in my case, CrossFit) is hugely beneficial for that. I’ve had a hard time with lots of physical activities because I’m not naturally athletic or coordinated, and it made me miserable to be the worst in the room/on the field at whatever I was doing. So now I tell myself “Exercise is one of your medicines, and you need to take it.” (I’m not at all saying that everyone needs to exercise, they don’t, phrasing it that way is just helpful for me.) When I learned to make it not about excelling, outdoing other people, or even having fun (although I have managed to find some forms of exercise that are truly fun for me, which I’m so happy about) but about doing something that was necessary for me to achieve and maintain my optimal level of physical and mental health, my relationship with exercise got a LOT better.

  8. Ah yes school gym class… oh the horror. Gym class has pretty much made me hate exercise for most of my life, which is exactly the OPPOSITE of what it was intended to do. Even walking (yes walking) was never good enough for gym class. It took me years to figure out that walking does a body good.

  9. I had to step away from the computer and come back less angry. Maybe somewhere in the wide world, there is a fat kid who had a positive experience in phys ed, but I was emphatically not that kid.

    For one, if I did well, my efforts were sabotaged. The first time I tried out for the Presidential Fitness Award, I almost got it… until it came to push ups. We had to do thirty to qualify. I was breezing along, and all of a sudden, the gym teacher said, “You aren’t doing those right. I can’t count any of them.” She then “corrected” my position from bicep push-ups to tricep push-ups (hands lower and closer together) and forced me to start over from one, which of course I could not do for very long. Another year, the first time I did a pull-up, I was so proud of myself… and the teacher not only refused to count it and put me down for zero pull-ups, he *physically pulled me off the bar* when I continued struggling to do another so he’d HAVE to count it. This discrimination could not have been more blatant if both teachers had shown up in T-shirts that read, “If you’re fat, don’t bother with the effort – I’ve already decided you don’t get the award,” – and yet, I was a kid, so I assumed the problem was with me, that I was the one who’d failed, and that I was only imagining I was being treated differently.

    So I discover the Fat-o-Sphere, and guess what I find… stories like mine, happening to other kids, some of them even more blatant than these examples. These adults must be so proud of themselves, cheating little fat kids out of shitty printout certificates and cereal-box-quality plastic trophies. I bet they give themselves big ol’ pats on the back.

    Less awful but still awful, places where I *could* have used advice, I was given none except “get smaller.” I was never told I’d both run faster and tire more slowly if I corrected my strides and foot strikes. I was never told about lactic acid, or the difference between the way it feels and the way being tired feels (I was also not told there were ways to make it less uncomfortable). I was never told that crushing weight in my chest was EIA and it was mild enough to treat with over-the-counter Vicks Vap-O-Rub, vastly improving my performance. All these things I was left to figure out on my own as the thin children were *taught stuff.*

    TL;DR, this is how I dealt with it when I decided, after blowing off my college years, I wanted to start exercising again:

    Ever hear of the Little Albert study? The one where the kid was given a pet rat to play with, and then they set off a frightening noise in his ear, until he became terrified every time he saw the rat? Exercise was the rat in my story, not an enemy, but a fellow victim of an unethical experiment. If I really wanted revenge on the people who tried to turn exercise and I against each other as a method to keep us both firmly under their control, I’d team up with exercise against them, like in a cool action movie.

    A little melodramatic, maybe, but it worked for me.

    1. PS – I’ve been told it’s possible to OD on Vicks. I felt like I should mention that for some reason.

    2. We have something similar in Canada to your fitness test. Like 5 push-ups, handstands, jogging, etc. When I did mine in grade 3, I had never done a push-up before, never seen one, and no one explained it to me, so I couldn’t actually do one. And the teacher said “none of those counted” so I must done over 30 “whatevers” and didn’t get the 5 push-ups.

      In grade 4-5 you were sent home with a list of activities and your parents had to watch you do it and sign off on it.

      1. Don’t you just love the way they let us do a *whole bunch* of “incorrect” push-ups before “correcting” us, so we’d already be worn down when they started counting?

        Srsly, hearing this happened and is still happening to other kids makes my blood boil afresh.

        1. I think in some cases the teachers don’t demonstrate because they actually can’t do pushups themselves. I had a gym teacher in high school who loved yelling at us for not doing pushups correctly, but never demonstrated how they should be done. I snarkily commented to my friends after class that I bet the teacher couldn’t even do pushups herself, but I was mostly kidding. Finally, one of my classmates, a very earnest, sweet girl, and honestly a little bit of a goodie-goodie, someone who wouldn’t say something sarcastic or insulting to a teacher if her life depended on it, said, very politely, “Could you show us, please? I think I might understand what you’re saying better if I could see it.” The gym teacher lost her shit; she snapped at the girl that what she was saying made PERFECT sense, and that we just weren’t listening or trying hard enough. My classmate was on the verge of tears, until one of the boys in the class cut the teacher off and demonstrated a correct pushup, with a verbal explanation (first time I ever understood how to do a pushup correctly).

  10. It occurred to me a while back that the whole dieting mentality is what ruined my fitness. As a kid, I would have jumped rope all damned day if I was allowed. I used bars in grocery check out lines as my parallel bars into my late teens, doing complex routines as my mother had her attention on the checkout clerk. I was arm wrestling champ of my school. I walked to the beach on a regular basis, as it was 8 blocks away.
    My sister, who is naturally skinny, was not very active. Before I was forced to diet, she and I ate virtually identically. After I started, my parents would buy her stashes of candy when we went shopping to hide from me. I still to this day wonder if it was some sort of social experiment. Mostly, I think it was that I looked womanly much earlier (size 32C boobs in 5th grade), and it was jarring to the people around me so I needed to grow up then to match my body, and that including learning to hate it. Sadly, that included not doing any activity if it did not contribute to making me smaller.
    I wish I could jump rope now, but my arthritis and fibro have made my joints feel like broken glass on most days and I am lucky if I can walk for a half and hour to get through a grocery store. I walked miles with no problem as recently as 2012… so the state I’m in now is pretty upsetting for me too.

  11. I attended the workshop in the picture as an advisor with my GSA kids and I am in that picture somewhere! One thing I kept thinking about during your keynote address is that there are activities I like to do, but because I have learned to associate all exercise with weight loss, I quit doing them all because they didn’t make the numbers on the scale move. How stupid is that? I realized not only do I do a lot of things I really hate to try to lose weight, but sometimes I also stop doing things I really like to do because they DON’T help me lose weight. I think there are so many physical activities that society tells us fat people “can’t” do, but then at the same time we get this message that we should be exercising all the time to lose weight. I have wanted to learn to tap dance forever and I always felt like I needed to lose weight to do it. So now I think I am going to go look for some tap shoes. 🙂

  12. It’s strangely comforting to read so many comments from so many other people who had more or less the same experience with gym class that I did. For so many years, not the least of which were the ones when I was going through all that, I felt like I was the only one – the only failure, the only person who couldn’t do it “right”. I broke up with “exercise” for over 20 years because it was so awful.

    It’s heartening to see so many of us have found a different path back to movement. (Yes, I still have trouble with the word “exercise” – one of the steps on my own path is to call it movement.) Our OWN paths. Ways that work with our own bodies and our own limitations and desires – not just physical, but emotional and financial and time and all the other facets of a complete life.

    My own path included a large dose of catering to my inner control freak – part of the reason I love swimming and lifting weights is the assertion of control over the movement and the weight. I feel strong and powerful and elegant while doing it, and that’s what keeps me doing it. And remembering that no one else at the gym knows what I’m aiming for, so they can’t judge whether I’m successful or not. Maybe they THINK they can, but I know better, and that makes me smile inside.

  13. I remember going to jr high gym for the first time (grades 7-9) and in the gymnastics unit we were expected to have a parallel bars, uneven bars, and balance beam routine for grading. I had never seen any of these before, and I couldn’t even get up on the beam. I had no arm strength (plus I was anorexic but didn’t know that’s what it was) and I basically couldn’t do any of it. I ended up having to write an essay about the history of gymnastics for each year when the unit came up because I couldn’t do any of the things.

    This is also an excellent post.

  14. I’m glad you mentioned gardening, Ragen. There are few activities on Earth that make me happier than yardwork and (amateur) landscaping. I don’t time my activities. I rarely watch the clock to see if I’ve done an “adequate” amount of work. I get out in the open air (even a little rain and wind generally doesn’t stop me: I’m a Northwesterner, after all :p) work on the tasks that please me and when it’s time to stop, I stop. Somewhere in the back of my mind is always my personal environment and what it looked like before, or what it will look like after the task is complete. Instead of worrying about how I look and how my body is, I get covered in sweat and dirt and ultimately get rewarded with something wonderful in my yard that a lot of people can enjoy. It’s awesome.

    As a kid, I lived under the impression that the whole point of fitness was health, and that somehow the more you loathed it, the more it proved that you were winning points in Heaven or some nonsense like that. I was also a cyclist and avid climber of trees back then, but I never counted those things as exercise because I enjoyed them so much. Sad, but true.

  15. The worst thing I learned in gym class was that exercise hurts. And what made it the worst thing was not that it stopped me exercising, but that it set me up for accidents and injuries that a person with a less damaged instinct for physical self-preservation might have avoided easily.

    I suffered from something as close to asthma as to not make a difference for several years, every kind of extertion had me wheezing and coughing my lungs and the contents of my stomach out, because in gym class I had attempted to jog for longer than my lungs could take. And then did it again. And again. It took years of not even going for walks to get rid of it.

    And let’s not get into the sprains and bruises. I always got at least a D in gym class because I was “trying so hard”. Meaning, even the teacher was worried that if I tried any harder there’d be blood on the floor.

    Fortunately, as I started weight lifting as rehab exercises for my back , that is the one type of exercise where I am extremely attuned to my body’s signals and actually know when to stop.

    1. I could never run either, still can’t. Everyone said it was just an excuse to be lazy though. Glad you found something that helps, and awful to hear that the damage lasted for years.

      1. Thank you! I still want to whack people who tout jogging as the be-all and end-all of cardio fitness. It’s personal. *grrrr*

  16. Exercise feels a lot better to me when I do not call it exercise. I walk and cycle because I want to go somewhere. I swim when it is hot outside. In winter I ice-skate because I like the feeling. I dance, because it is fun. But call it exercise and I will start feeling bad about it.

  17. Thank you so much for this one – I LOVE the reminder that I’m exercising (or not) for FUN, not for anyone else.

  18. Hi Ragen

    I wondered if this would be of any interest to you and your followers (of which I’m one :-). The World Health Organisation have recently published a factsheet about physical activity and health. It makes clear that it’s not talking about ‘exercise’ and it defines exercise as a sub-set of physical activity. There are no mentions of weight or obesity either. Here’s the address:

    www dot who dot int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/

  19. I have mild cerebral palsy and found gym class transcendentally disqualifying. I’ve never been thin but am more plump in midlife than earlier. Only when I rediscovered yoga and dance in adult life did I begin to experience movement (or indeed the sense of proprioception) as a source of enjoyment. (I also love to swim but used it for weight loss in grad school after being fat-shamed and lectured about moral courage by my dad, which together with its time-consumingness made swimming less of interest afterwards). Dancing is a sign of resurrection where “exercise” just feels like punishment. I reclaimed this so late that anything conducive to “a messy breakup with” physical activities I enjoy would feel sacrilegious.

    The recently promoted “10,000 steps a day or else” rubric irritates me because it revives the whole dichotomy between “activity that counts and activity that doesn’t count” and the mantra “you aren’t doing enough”. Though lipservice is given to being able to convert any activity to steps, in practice 10,000 steps creates zero-tolerance for the effects of gait challenges. Even at the yoga retreat center where I sometimes dance two or three hours in the day I probably don’t attain that; just thinking of 10K steps makes my Achilles tendons tense up like bowstrings. And no, I don’t have an activity meter wristband; I have not worked this hard making peace with proprioception only to let metrication in to spoil things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.