I’ve come to discover that there are three different types of worker-outers.
CAMP 1: Hell bent on working out every day of the week, sometimes for two-hour sessions, filled with hard-core cardio, intense classes and weight lifting. If they’re good, they may get a Sunday recovery day.
CAMP 2: Proudly work out three to four days a week, which may include a relaxing yoga session or a quick 20-minute weight-lifting session.
CAMP 3: If they make it to the gym once or twice a month for a really heart-pounding workout, they’ve done their job. Working out is not their top priority. Maybe their family, their job, or their hobbies take precedence.
Back in college when I belonged to the first camp of people, it honestly never occurred to me that the second camp, or even the third, could be healthier options.
But maybe, just maybe, they are…
In the last few months, I have secured myself into the second camp. I work out three to four days a week. The workouts could vary from an hour-long boxing sweat session at UFC gym, to a 40-minute basement gym workout – split between the treadmill and weight lifting, to a 20-minute squeeze-in of squats, push-ups and crunches.
But back when I was in college, and in my early twenties, I took working out to a whole new, unhealthy level. In other words, I was textbook Camp 1.
I would get up every morning, 3 hours before my first class, to head to the gym. Working out could include:
- 45 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of lifting.
- An hour-long cardio class, followed by half an hour of Pilates, 20 minutes of lifting and 20 minutes of abs (because the class wasn’t enough).
- An early morning 45-minute workout to a fitness DVD, later followed by an after-work hour-long gym workout.
Whatever it was, it was at least 1 ½ hours long (sometimes 3 hours), and it was almost every day of the week. If I took more than one day of recovery, I would beat myself up for it.
I really believed that this was healthy.
I was doing what I was supposed to do. This is what Oxygen Magazine and countless fitness books told me I was supposed to do if I wanted to stay in shape.
And stay in shape I did. But I was also miserable, stressed for time, and filled with regret on a regular basis if I didn’t meet my high expectations every week. It would also push me to have binge sessions where no amount of food could fill me up (especially low-fat, no-fat, no flavor food). Which, of course, would result in more beat-myself-up sessions.
Today I work out for half the time and I’ve never felt better, never looked better, never slept better and never had more energy. I do not have constant muscle aches, over-tired days, and best of all, regret.
The biggest difference between my old crazy camp and my new happy camp is this:
I don’t work out to lose weight; I work out to be healthy and happy.
Nothing is more liberating than this feeling. It’s something I’ve been telling myself and other people for years. But I honestly think it’s only really sunken in the last six months or so.
HERE IS WHAT DEFINES MY NEW “WORKOUT SLACKER” MINDSET:
- If I don’t enjoy the type of workout I am doing, I won’t want to do it.
- If my gym is too far out of reach, it stresses me out to get there, so I won’t want to go.
- If my workout is too long, it takes too much time out of my day doing things that could make me happier.
- If my body is telling me that it is sick or over-tired, working out is going to make me feel worse, not better.
- If I treat myself badly during said workout (i.e. Push for 30 reps instead of 20! Run at 7.0 instead of 6.0!) when my body can’t quite handle the intensity on that day, then I won’t be happy.
- Working out is so much more fun when I’m not “supposed” to be doing it. When I can’t sit at my desk and stare at my computer any longer, I escape to the stairway to do stair runs, find quiet hallways for lunges, and deserted meeting rooms for planks and push-ups.
I truly believe that having this new workout mindset is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I now look at working out as something I enjoy – not something I resent. Therefore, I do it more, I do it better and I do it with energy. I am proud of my body and all of the things that it can do.
Now I’m in this place, I want to push it past the gym. I want to take it to the mountains to snowboard, I want to take it to the ocean to surf, I want to take it to the ice rink to skate, and I want to take it to an exotic coastline to run. Man, I LOVE being a slacker.
What do you guys think? Is being workout-lax healthier or am I just in workout denial?