Are You Exercising For The Wrong Reasons?
Guest Post By Cal of Coached by Cal
(All thought and text by Cal. Images by Sub Sports)
Exercise should be a positive thing. Something we do which adds value to our lives, develops us as a person, and makes us a better version of ourselves. It should be something we choose to do, an hour of our day which brings us joy and a sense of achievement.
Far too often I hear it referred to as something negative. Something we see as a necessary evil, just another daily chore to add to our list, a burden which triggers feelings of inadequacy.
Have you ever heard someone say: ‘I better go to the gym tonight, i’ve not been in a week’ or ‘Well I can meet you after my Spin Class, I have to go because of all that wine I drank yesterday’, what about ‘I only burned like *checks Iwatch* 400 calories in Body Pump, that’s not even a f**king meal deal from Tesco, what’s even the point?’.
Sounds like pretty negative language to me!
I think this stems from our fundamental motivations to exercise, and that recently we’ve been doing it for the wrong reasons. When I meet a prospective client the first few questions I ask them are:
What motivated you to get in contact with me?
What do you want to get out of this relationship?
How can I help you do that?
Most of the time their answer is ‘I need to lose weight’, in fact I’d say 90% of the people I coach first came to me to ‘lose weight’.
I always answer the same way - exercise is not an effective way of losing weight, and I'll repeat that in caps EXERCISE IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE WAY OF LOSING WEIGHT.
Turning exercise into a tool for purely burning calories (the key to weight loss) completely overlooks the real reason for exercise, to improve our general health. I find it useful to think of a number of key areas consisting of, but not limited to:
Getting stronger - often load related, ie. deadlift 100kg, back squat 80kg, bench press 60kg but could equally be ‘build leg strength so I can get off the sofa without using my arms!’
Getting fitter - usually cardiovascular fitness related, ie. Run my first ever 5km, run 5km in under 25mins, but could also be related to daily activity ‘I want to be able to do the gardening without getting out of breath’ or ‘I want to be able to play the full hour of 5-aside football without keeling over’.
Learning a skill - A new gym related movement such as a pull up, a press up, or a clean. I also have a lot of people wanting to learn handstands currently, but this could be anything!
Boosting your mood - Let’s find a method, or methods, of training that you enjoy… that you’ll keep coming back to long term, that continuously helps you hit and set new goals, that will empower you and make you feel amazing.
And they always come back with ‘Yeh, but I also want to lose weight’
Don’t get me wrong, gaining control of your weight (whether it’s losing, gaining, or maintaining) is a completely valid goal but there is a much more effective tool than exercise for doing this - our diet.
So in order to get value out of the time we put into exercising we need to completely separate it from weight management. We exercise to improve ourselves, try and think about this as adding something positive into your life - I’ve added strength, I’ve added fitness, I’ve added a skill. Not something negative - I’ve used 500kcals or I've burnt off a mars bar.
Think about this - 100% of the calories coming into our body come from food/drink but most people can only burn 20-30% of that number through exercise, therefore manipulating the input is much more effective than manipulating the output.
But that’s a whole other topic for another blog post!