Being Bruce -: Should I Work Out Every Day? Yes. Should You?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Should I Work Out Every Day? Yes. Should You?

My commitment to myself and my health is that I will work out every day.

It may sound odd that I speak of myself and my health as two entities because indeed my health is inextricably part of who I am. However, I can ignore my health, I can abuse it, I can maintain it, and I can improve it. Because the sense of each of those states is one entity doing something that effects the other, it works for me to consider them separate entities.

Having established that duality, it's more clear for me to see how I have responsibility for my health. Health isn't something that just happens. Like happiness or success, my health is directly affected by my actions, my thoughts, and my state of being.

I'm highly conscious that my mind can, will, and in the past has worked against my overall good, and that includes my health. It's easy for me to use my mind to justify having a second piece of pie, or not trying something new, or skipping something I know is good for me.

I don't go through life all tightly wrapped and controlled (at least I don't experience myself that way), but I am aware that I can slide into behavior patterns that, if observed objectively, are clear signs that I'm not being a good steward of my personal health. For example, skipping exercise two days in a row easily slides into weeks off, having extra helpings at dinner or two desserts for lunch one time can become every day practices - I can even trick myself into a twisted sense of "living in the now" to justify each instance of neglect or overindulgence.

So, for me, working out everyday is the  best course. I don't need to do the same type of workout every day (in fact, of course, that's not good for you either). So some days I'll work on strength training, other days cardio, some times flexibility with stretching or Yoga, I'll do plyometrics, or pilates, or Zumba or ride my bike, or whatever. The point is, not to skip.

Because here's what I've learned about how my mind will work against me. If I take a day off from exercise, then  automatically my subconscious learns, "Ok, a day off is part of Bruce's exercise routine."

Can you see the trap I set for myself? Since my subconscious (just like yours if you're human) is trying to protect me and tends to resist change or effort or struggle or pain, if I give it permission to consider days of no exercise as good for me (i.e., part of my exercise routine), then my subconscious, I've figured out, will continuously try to influence my conscious mind to take a day off because working out is work and it can be hard and it does take me away from other cool, fun, or necessary stuff I could be doing, but since days off are part of my exercise routine anyway (see how devious my mind works? .... as does yours), then I'll suddenly realize that I've gone four days, or two weeks, or three months, or even years without working out. And that I know is not good for me.

Sometimes the only way to break that pattern is for something bad to happen. Like a doctor telling me I need to lose weight, or some bad blood test results, or seeing myself in the mirror and thinking, "Huh? How did I let myself get like that?"

Granted, often the wake up call that moves me back to good habits is somewhat (or all) related to vanity and self-esteem, but in that case I'm served well if I'll re-establish a good habit.

So that's why I work out every day. Your minds (conscious and subconscious) may work differently, but I've learned I need to take charge of my actions and my conscious mind or otherwise my subconscious mind will work against my health and well-being.

I am fascinated  to hear your thoughts on this. Has anyone else reached the same conclusions about working out daily or more generally about keeping up good habits not only for your own good but also to harness the potential self-destructiveness of your subsconcious?