On Why We Exercise

When you’re an intern, you table your feelings, so to speak. By 9 am July 1, you become so laser focused on becoming a master of efficiency, on checking off check box after check box that you’ll look up and realize its April and start to feel just a tiny bit of emotion, which then starts to get overwhelming, and you quickly return to your checkboxes.

Answer the page, check the box.

Answer the page, check the box.

I feel similarly about exercise these days. Its become a checkbox in a sense. I can still wax philosophic on why I run (or go to spin or pilates) and I genuinely think I do things for the right reason. However, as an intern, exercise has become a bit of a compulsion for me, an emotional crutch that I lean on heavily to provide a sense of normalcy in a fairly hectic life. Its something I’ve always done (dance, gymnastics, tennis, swimming, softball, soccer, so on and so forth) and I genuinely like it.

#tbt 1996

#tbt 1996

However, since I’ve started intern year, I’ve been a goal-less exerciser, for the first time in my entire life. I’m  not trying to become a stronger gymnast, a better tennis player, or a faster runner. I’m….doing something I love to do.

And, this got me thinking…because the prerogative of millennials is to overanalyze our happiness instead of just being happy. Right?

Fundamentally, I think I like to work out a lot because its fun, it makes me feel better, and, most importantly, I am deathly afraid of the following: hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, coronary artery disease, strokes, heart failure, not feeling my feet from diabetes, kidney failure from high blood pressure, and so on an so forth.

And, because I've met my best friends through sports...

And, because I’ve met my best friends through sports…

And, to be honest, “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands” – truer words have never been spoken. I’m pretty sure Malcolm Gladwell could find an association between exercise and crime rates.

At the end of my analysis, I determined that if we get to the root of the issue – besides the “I like it” part and the “I’m terrified of coronary artery disease” part – there are really two reasons I exercise: body function and body image.

Which one is more important to me? I can’t figure that one out.

Let’s back up a little bit.

First, meet Chainsaw and Jaws (yes, those are their names – sort of):


Aka "Chainsaw" Photo Credit: Flex Studios

Aka “Chainsaw” Photo Credit: Flex Studios


[Sorry you guys, I took these pics off the internet. Don’t hate me.]

I think I’ve spent what equates to a small wedding fund going to both of their classes this year (pilates for Liz, spin for Jaws) mostly because I like their classes and partly in an attempt to look like them. [And partly because this winter was terrible and I was not into running in the polar vortex with ice on the ground if I could help it.]

This weather is more up my running alley.

This weather is more up my running alley.

Unfortunately, thus far, osmosis hasn’t worked. Science is really letting me down.

By the principle of osmosis, shouldn't the higher concentration of abs spontaneously migrate to the lower concentration of abs? Yes?

By the principle of osmosis, shouldn’t the higher concentration of abs spontaneously migrate to the lower concentration of abs to create an equilibrium? Yes?

I also take their classes (and others…and run) because I want my body to be able to do the things I want it to do. I want to be able to run marathons if I want to…or to work 80 hours a week on a labor floor without collapsing.

As I said in my last post, I’ve done some  double/triple spins and run/pilates or run/spin or pilates/spin combos. So, if my body can conceivably do what I want it to do, why do I care exactly what it looks like? If can run a marathon, why am I mad at science for 6-pack osmosis not being a “thing?” If I can work 80 hours a week, run, still fit into my clothes, and not collapse, why do I keep interrogating Lauren on “how she does it.”

Seriously, Lauren. What do I have to do? Birth a child 10 months ago?

Seriously, Lauren. What do I have to do? Birth a child 10 months ago?

I don’t know either. The answer escapes me, like the concept of the iCloud.

[Seriously, you all, what is and where is the iCloud.]

Just some food for thought.

I probably won’t figure out the answer (like I’ll never understand the concept of the iCloud), but I’ll keep working out because I like it and the way it makes me feel. Do my part in decreasing the crime rate. Because, in the end, we really do this because endorphins make us happy, right?


Until next time…





7 thoughts on “On Why We Exercise

  1. Very interesting! I exercise to look good and feel good. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Isn’t that in a commercial? Among all the things you afraid of, I would add I am afraid of sneaky cancers that end your life quickly (think pancreas, liver, stomach or other awful things), sudden cardiac arrest, but also mundane things like bad posture or having a spare tire around my waist, or not looking good in shorts in the summer. So grateful for private Pilates sessions and love that I can do a Kettlebells or jump rope at home. I like to mix it up and keep my body guessing.

  2. For the first time in oh….5 years I am working out and running without a goal. I’m right there with you! It’s kind of nice not having to wake up at 4:30 5-6 days a week. I’m working out for my sanity and because I like the way I feel. It all started with a foot injury after a fall marathon. I’ve come to realize that there are seasons for working out a ton and right now, is not that season. 🙂

  3. I exercise 100% for emotional stability and stress relief. Every single time I get extremely stressed, I realize I haven’t exercised in a while. It’s taken me years to realize that’s not a coincidence!

  4. I think a huge part of why I started exercising was because I wanted to look better;. Luckily, I’ve learned to like it so much that I don’t really care about that part anymore, but I love doing it because it makes me happy! It also helps to know that it is good for me and will keep me healthy! I no longer do crunches with the hope that I will magically develop a 6 pack, but instead I do planks and such because I want to be a stronger runner.

  5. Agree with Lisa – I started to look better, then discovered I love exercising in itself because of feeling happy! I do strength work on legs to make my legs stronger for running, no longer for specifically muscular looking legs (although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like that side effect.)

    Love the Legally Blonde reference by the way, one of my faves. Great post overall.

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever viewed running as a means to look better. It was only when I had to stop running due to injury that I considered workout to not gain weight/etc…and that’s when I learned that I don’t like working out for the sake of looking better! It’s much more fun to chase time/distance goals rather than chasing a number on a scale or a look in the mirror. I do wish I liked those activities more because I’ll never get a six pack (ha) without doing other things, but I’m okay with that. I do wonder what people do to look so good…and then I eat cupcakes that someone brought into work. As long as the inside looks good (seriously, keep me away from dialysis and diabetes, PLEASE), the outside can be a little softer on the edges…but only a little. I fear the day I really need to pay attention.

Don't be shy, leave a reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s