I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary of consecutive days of exercise. I’m actually zeroing in on about 1,840, but who’s counting? Throughout this journey, I’ve grown pretty accustomed to being pointed at, laughed at and looked at like I have fungus growing out of my forehead due to my training habits. Running uphill backwards, doing leapfrogs across a lawn and crawling on my hands and feet with my belly one quarter of an inch from the ground are some of the fun activities that have garnished the responses I mentioned above. That’s cool. I don’t train like I do to impress people, make them smile, make them laugh, or make them love or hate me. I do what works and what I find fun. That, my friend, is the key component of getting fit and staying fit!
At about the 3 1/2-year mark, I fell in love with this “thing” called barefoot running. I have to tell you, once the shoes came off and the bare flesh of my feet met the blacktop, the love affair was on! And true to form, I got a battery of looks and comments from many curious onlookers. I’ll never forget the time I went to my neighbor’s church gathering one Monday night. I was introduced to a lady who lived in the hood and instead of a smile and a normal, “Nice to meet you,” I got an extended hand accompanied with a look of astonishment and the comment “Didn’t I see you running barefoot down the middle of the road the other day?” I thought to myself, “Nice to meet you too,” but I calmly retorted with, “Yes… that was me.” By the end of that night, three more people looked at me the exact same way and asked nearly the exact same question.
If you’re wondering what I’m getting at, it goes a little something like this. Never be afraid to do what you love to do when it comes to exercise. During my streak, I’ve participated in a blend of routines that varied from basic to extremely off the wall. Most of the time I went extreme to avoid tedium. The key element throughout was to turn a blind eye to all comments and thoughts from others. This is called non-attachment. If you pay too much attention to what people think and say, you will likely remain in a chronic state of frustration with how your body looks and feels. When it comes to weight loss particularly, fat’s not going to just magically jump off your body. You need to burn it off by being active and throwing down on a regular basis. If this means you have to join a gym, then get your buns down there and join! Don’t worry about looks from muscleheads, and gossip from divas who get all dolled up and walk on treadmills for hours while reading Cosmo. They’re all more concerned about how THEY look instead of you.
Take it from a guy who was once at so low of a point in his life that he was one millimeter away from death, suicide, homicide and genocide. The ONLY thing I had in those dark days was exercise, and I REALLY could care less what people thought of me. I specifically remember doing wind sprints one frosty morning on a steeper-than-steep hill in an alley in Edgewater, NJ with my teeth gritted and a possessed look on my face. Words can barely describe what was going through my mind that day, and the dazed looks that glared at me from multiple angles resembled that. Exercise got me through tough times then, it gets me through tough times now, and I predict it will get through tough times in the future. You might have to fight hard to get into a rhythm at first, but it is well worth it once you do. And I all but guarantee, you will NEVER, EVER regret performing a bout of exercise once it’s commenced. Remember, exercise releases endorphins, which are mood enhancers. I actually cite physical activity as a panacea–an all around solution to problems.
The simple take-home message is, words people say are just words. They mean less than nothing, which is very little in case you don’t own a dictionary. Think about how much easier life would be if you did not attach to a single thing someone said. That’s pretty doggone liberating in my book. Set your sights on being free of comments (especially negative ones), and totally in control of what you want and how you want to look. Make a mental picture of that and keep it there at all times! If you like dancing, go to Zumba class. If you like to throw things, get a medicine ball and spike it into the ground until your arms go numb. If fishing is your thing, get a TRX Rip Trainer and perform a casting motion until your gut’s burning. If you’re a single guy looking to lose weight and improve flexibility, go to hot yoga class–I’ve read in an encyclopedia somewhere that the gender ratio is definitely in your favor. The only people who look like fools are the ones who sit on couches THINKING and TALKING about taking action, but never do. The time for change is now. Take charge of your health, saddle up with the Lean Berets and be part of the solution!