Friday, June 17, 2011

The elevator rant

Thursday's Workout:

warm-up: 15 each: good mornings, back squats, ohs, snatch push press, hang power snatch, all with a light bar

some work on clean and jerks, sets of 2 and 3, 65#

30 kb snatch each arm 8kg, broken up into 10/10, 10/10, 5/5/, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5

5x5 front squats at 45#

Rant: The Elevator

I always take the elevator at work. The stairwell is creepy and smells like paint. I have a fear of getting locked in there. The elevator is well-lit, large, and pleasant. It requires no effort. It makes me feel elegant. I've timed it many times, and unless you take the stairs at a full sprint, they take the same amount of time as the elevator, so there's no time-saving argument for the stairs.

But every time I try to hold the elevator door for someone, they look a little disgusted, and say no, I'd better take the stairs, I need the exercise. Every time! Trust me, these are not people that are fitter than me. They seem puzzled that I can be so fit and yet so obviously lazy.

I think this is predicated on a basic misunderstanding of exercise. People think that every little bit counts, that it all adds up and "burns calories" - agghhh. (Getting cause and effect backwards - go read Good Calories, Bad Calories for the way it really works.) My philosophy on physical activity is that you should rest when you can, have fun when you want to, and when you work out, make it count. Exercise should never be a chore. In fact, I hate the word exercise because it implies that it's a chore. There should just be different things you do throughout the day, like getting somewhere, or playing outside, or training because you want to.

Why do we have an obesity epidemic in a country of Puritans? Everyone wants to paint Americans as lazy, but I think this isn't really true. We are a bunch of workaholics who drive ourselves into the ground, who barely sleep, who structure our play, who live and die for deadlines. Who has longer work weeks or less vacation? If hard work really made you slim and fit, obesity would be a tiny problem in the US. The problem is what we eat, and what looks like laziness is metabolic efficiency brought on by a problematic diet. But that's another rant for another day.

What kills me is this idea that just WON'T DIE, the idea that we have to burn calories and that we can tick these off by dutifully "exercising", by taking the stairs, by parking farther away. How well has that worked out for you? For anyone? And how happy does it make you? Perhaps there's a smug self-satisfaction when you see someone taking the elevator and you take the stairs. But you're really just fooling yourself.

A healthier approach is to 1) fix your diet so that you have the energy to LIVE, and 2) do what's fun and effective. Stop toiling away trying to count calories (both in and out). Eat the right fuel and then use that fuel, like we humans were meant to.

People think I train hard because I'm disciplined, that it takes this incredible will to go to the gym and I'm doing it out of obligation. But I train because I love it! When I don't feel like training, I don't. I take the day off. I took a whole week off, just going back yesterday. Even yesterday, I didn't feel great, I didn't really want to go to the gym, so I gave myself an out. I said, I'll warm up, I'll do a couple lifts, and if I'm not having fun, I'll leave. I finished the workout because once I got myself started, I was having fun.

No, I'm not setting any PR's and it is a bit frustrating to watch my strength and coordination slip away from me. But hell, I'm 6 and a half months pregnant, and I'm proud of what I can still do. I have a skill set, I have a strength base, and I walk around without the fatigue and pain and cravings and crashes that are typical of pregnancy these days. I feel strong and in control, and I love being able to put some plates on a bar and throw it over my head and have people look a little alarmed at what the pregnant lady is doing. That brings me joy.

Likewise, if I'm antsy and want to go for a hike, that brings me joy. Climbing until my forearms burn brings me joy. Before I was pregnant and I wanted to go all out on some crazy metcon, that brought me joy. Would trudging up the stairs out of some sense of calorie-burning obligation bring me joy? Deliberately walking an extra 30 yards in a hot parking lot? Or putting in an hour on the treadmill? No. So I don't do that. And I'm stronger and happier because of it.

We should move our bodies in a way that makes us strong, proud, and confident, and happy. I wish I could free the masses from their dutiful hours of exercise and their compulsions about "discipline" and introduce them to the joy that is being healthy.

1 comment:

martha said...

At fifty four I have just started working out with a trainer and find I am loving it. Thanks for the post.