The Blessing of “I Don’t Want To.”

One Word 365 writing series

One Word: Blessing

The Blessing of “I Don’t Want To”

When I originally began my weight loss and fitness goals in the spring/summer of 2013, I was dealing with knee problems. It was painful to walk, every single step hurt, literally! It felt as if it took an hour to walk one city block. I wondered how I was going to train for a 10K running race if I could barely walk 10 meters.

As the weight came off people began asking what diet I was on and if I was exercising. I told them I stopped dieting at age 26 and for more than a decade I had not been on a diet. I informed them that I was training in brisk walking. I wish I had been able to capture the looks on people’s faces every time I said “walking”. People seem to have a hard time accepting that brisk walking can be quite the physical challenge and that it is a healthy form of exercise.

I have to explain too many times to too many people why I have zero desire to ever run a marathon. I feel as if my fitness goals and weight loss journey is taken less seriously because right now I’m limited to doing, at most, a run-walk. My knee doesn’t allow me to run for long distances, but that is not the problem or the issue. From the bottom of my heart I mean it when I say, “I don’t want to complete a marathon”.

I don't want to look like a marathon runner. I want to look like a sprinter!

I don’t want to look like a marathon runner. I want to look like a sprinter!

Questions I’ve been asked

(Q): But isn’t that every runner’s dream?

(A): No, not for this runner!

Q: How will you know you don’t like doing marathons if you’ve never tried?

A: Because, I hate running for more than 60 minutes, after that, I’m done, I just want to go back home or start walking. There’s no ax murderer behind me, so why do I need to keep running when no one is chasing me?

Q: It’s mind over matter! Keep running and you will eventually learn to love it!

A: Well… I have my mind set on not doing a marathon and instead I want to do something that is of interest to me.  I want to do something that I enjoy now.

I'm a hater!

I’m a hater!

Here is the part where I have found the Blessing of “I Don’t Want To”.

Saying “yes” to investing a lot of time and energy into physical activities that I don’t enjoy is draining for me; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Training to do a distance longer than 10K is a major time investment.

There are plenty of fitness activities to choose from and neither you nor I are required to invest in something we don’t enjoy. Saying “no” has allowed me to search for activities that I will look forward to without having to do daily motivational speeches to myself or find some sort of accountability group to help keep me publicly accountable to my unwanted goals.

I wonder how many people out there are engaged in physical activities they truly don’t like and are only doing so because they are forcing themselves to engage in a battle of mind over matter. If you can get the same results doing another activity, one that you actually enjoy, why not choose that option? Choosing daily activities that are a burden, time consuming, and are not enjoyable eventually causes unhappiness. It doesn’t matter if you finished a marathon or cycled through the forest for 6 hours. If the process of meeting this goal was not enjoyable, you did not accomplish anything emotionally rewarding. A physical accomplishment needs to have all three components of well-being: mind, body, and spirit. Did your activity genuinely feed all three? And by genuine, I’m asking was your joy and happiness authentic or did it require daily pep talks, fitspiration pictures plastered everywhere and forcing yourself to attend almost every single session of training?

I'll do the work to look like Flo Jo, my childhood hero!

I’ll do the work to look like Flo Jo, my childhood hero!

Even when we choose an activity that we do love, there are going to be times when it does require motivation to get things done, but it should be an exception not a regular occurrence. Enjoyable activities might require some motivation, but once you are finished there should be some enjoyment. I dislike going to the gym, every single time, but I can assure you that once my workout is over, I feel an incredible high. There are times when the treadmill beeps and I think, “Nooo, I don’t want to cool down, I want to keep on going!!”.

Exercise is a time for release from the stressors and problems in our lives; it’s not a time to add yet another task that doesn’t bring fulfillment, emotional release and joy to our life.

Be blessed in your physical activities by choosing to participate in workouts that add life to your day.

There is a traditional Jewish morning blessing (Elohai Neshamah) where you say,

“My G-d, the soul that you put in me, it is pure: You created it, you formed it, you breathed it in me, and you tend it in my core. But you will take it from me and put it back in me in the world to come. For all the time that the soul is in my core, grateful am I before you, Adonai my G-d, and G-d of my ancestors, master of all works, lord of all souls. Blessed are you, Lord, the one who restores souls to lifeless bodies.”

When I wake up in the morning I want to learn to bless God and give him thanks. This is still a work in progress for me because waking up usually involves, grumbling as I reach over to turn my alarm off. I lay there dreading certain tasks on my to-do list and then I fly out of bed in attempt to reach the bathroom before the other people in the house so I can have hot water and some decent pressure flowing out of the shower head. When I used to head to the gym at 3:15 a.m. it wasn’t the most pleasant experience for me and required a lot of motivational head games. At the time I chose to workout before work because I knew I enjoyed my evenings so much that I never wanted to interrupt my pleasant evening with an unpleasant activity such as running.

Nothing says reward like a permanent injury and surgery 20 years later.

Nothing says reward like a permanent injury and surgery 20 years later.

Can I stop if I REALLY hate this activity and want to do one I enjoy that will get me the same results? Please?

Can I stop if I REALLY hate this activity and want to do one I enjoy that will get me the same results? Please?

I’m returning to my morning workouts this week, but thankfully not at 3:15 a.m., it’ll be a 5:30 a.m. wake up call. I’ll head to the gym to engage in activities that I genuinely enjoy. I intend for my mornings to start with a blessing of thanksgiving; this will be my morning praise, no motivation needed. My blessing will be that God has restored life to me again and I will give Him blessings by engaging my body in exercise that feeds my body and my spirit. It is no blessing to me or God if I unnecessarily force my body to do things that are not of interest or a benefit to me.

I pray that you are blessed this week in whatever physical activity you have chosen to do to keep fit. Let your activities be a blessing, not a burden. 

Be the best you