Don’t put your workout in a box!

Photo by: Vishwanth P  

Are you driving to the gym 2, 3, or 5 times per week? Good for you! You are dedicated to your fitness, that’s great news!

Now let me ask you: what are some of the reasons why you are driving to the gym? Maybe the gym is far away from your house and you can't walk or ride your bike. Or maybe it is on your way from work, so you just stop by. Maybe you live in an unsafe neighborhood where your car offers the best protection or maybe there aren’t any sidewalks to even walk on! Maybe you feel too tired or maybe you don't have time to walk or ride your bicycle.

Maybe you drive to the gym because of all the reasons above, and many more... But let's pause for a second here!

Why do we need to workout?

Please think about the true motivations behind your workouts. What are the reasons you are going to the gym in the first place?

To them, I was a slacker

For years, I would go to my neighborhood YMCA and “haunt the hallways” as some staff members would say, kindly teasing me. And it was kind of true! My local YMCA was a 20-minute hilly walk away from my house. I liked the community feeling there, so I would brisk walk to the Y several times a week, pushing my daughter's stroller, then I would enjoy a cup of coffee in the YMCA lobby, take a nice peaceful shower while my toddler was enjoying the kids' gym, and then we would both walk back home.

No class for me, no workout in the cardio room, but still, I was happy and felt energized each time I could fit a 40-minute power walk into my busy schedule. 

Once or twice a week I would add a 20-minute swim to the routine. Rarely more than that... Sometimes, I would ride my bike instead of walking. It was a bit harder since I had a toddler to haul around, but it was a little faster. On really busy days, it was a great alternative to walking.

To many folks at the YMCA, I looked like a lazybones. But that’s only because our society keeps exercise in a box, together with special shoes, special gear, special drinks and energy bars, and a special app on our smart watch.

We have started to dismiss physical activity when it’s not carefully planned, structured, and tracked.

What is a good workout?

When people drive to the gym and power walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, we all consider that they can check the “workout box" for that day, right? But when someone walks to the gym for coffee, we don’t look at it the same way at all.

Many of us don’t really think about it. We know that physical activity is good for us, but we forget that physical activity does not have to happen at the gym or on a schedule.

Being active happens every time we move and get our heart pumping.

Most of my clients are trying to increase their level of physical activity because they want to:

  • Improve their fitness in order to keep up with their loved ones;
  • Improve their mobility so that they have a better quality of life and can keep doing the things they love;
  • Create a calorie deficit in their day so that they can lose weight. For many gym goer, that is a the true motivation.

Of course, the gym can help us achieve these results. But the gym is not a mandatory step towards health or weight loss. Moving our body is, however!

Life would be a nightmare without habits!

We all do many things out of habit, without questioning our motivations or our purpose. And it’s better this way! Our life would be a nightmare if we had to think through every single action. Yet sometimes, it can be useful to reflect on whether or not our habits are serving our health goals.

When we start questioning our habits, we realize that we could walk more rather than drive, we could mow our lawn and clean our houses rather than have someone do it for us, we could take the stairs rather than the elevator, we could stand at our desk rather than sit all day, and the list goes on and on. 

Of course, these activities won’t look as impressive as an “official workout”, but if you get into the habit of moving every time you get an opportunity, believe me, you will take your fitness to the next level!

Have you heard about NEAT?

NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. NEAT is our ability to 'burn' calories by being active in our daily life, as opposed to burning calories while exercising.

According to James A. Levine, MD, PhD, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic Rochester, "for 2 adults of similar size, daily energy expenditure varies by as much as 2,000 calories per day and most of that difference comes from NEAT." Dr Levine explains that after a long day at work, the same person can burn as little as 30 calories if they decide to watch TV, and as much as 600 if they would rather spend the evening gardening or doing home repair. 

Again, no workouts involved here, it's just about moving our body as part of our daily routine.

How active will you be this year?

Now, why do I think it is truly critical to keep this in mind? Because so many people who sign up for the gym actually hate going to the gym! If you dread your workout, you will not stick with it in the long run. So before you sign up for a yearly membership, ask yourself: is your ultimate goal to go to the gym or is it to move your body and improve your fitness and your health while having a good time doing it? 

If you dread your workout, you will not stick with it in the long run.

If you go because you are trying to just be more active, then ask yourself how you could move your body in a way that feels less like a chore. What brings you pleasure? What saves you time? What allows you to get other things done while at the same time being active?

Let's turn off the autopilot for a second and truly look at the motivations behind what we do.

Thinking outside the box is something I do a lot when working with my clients. I help them think outside their own box, and I also give them my perception of things if they want to hear it. If you feel that this could be helpful to you too, because you have tried for many years to increase your level of physical activity and haven't been consistent with it, feel free to reach out. Maybe it is time to get the support you need to help you reach your wellness goals!

I’ll be honored to chat with you and see how you can stack all the odds in your favor. Allon-Z! Let’s Go!


exercise for weight loss, gym, workout for weightloss

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None of my services or recommendations are intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or disease. The information I provide should not take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietitian or nutritionist. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices. I cannot guarantee the outcome of my services or suggestions. My comments are expressions of my personal opinion only. 

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