That depends, however, on what you call “exercise.”
This summer at the YMCA of the Rockies where I work, I decided to challenge myself by not worrying about any kind of “exercise-just-for-exercise-sake,” like running, lifting, spin class, or aerobics.
Still, I spend much of the day at work on my feet, I walk a quarter mile up the road just to get to the dining hall at each meal and about half a mile to work from my dorm, I do yoga, and I’m living at a high altitude, which means my metabolism is naturally raised because the body needs more energy to process oxygen in the thinner atmosphere.
I have a complicated relationship with exercise, as I’ve written about in previous posts. On the one hand, I genuinely enjoy it. It makes me feel strong and powerful, helps me work of stress, helps me sleep at night, and I suspect it also helps some with my IBS symptoms. On the other hand, I’ve also been known to use exercise as a way to manage my guilt about food and my fear of weight gain.
Last time I worked at an outdoor education and retreat center, not dissimilar to the YMCA I work at now, I ran and did body weight exercises most days a week because I felt that I had to get my “exercise” in. But even if I hadn’t done so, I still would have been getting plenty of movement. I was walking constantly at work, I set up events and went on hikes with friends after work and on weekends, and I was, like now, living at a high altitude. I wasn’t eating nearly enough to support even that level of activity, let alone a four mile run every other morning, and my weight plummeted.
When I started my job this summer, I chose not to run or do pushups or any of that, not because I worried I’d lose weight again if I did it, but as a mental challenge. It’s important for me to remember that nothing terrible will happen if I take a few months of from “exercise-for-exercise-sake,” especially considering I’m otherwise active. And it’s been nice. I still get home at the end of each day tired and sore, and while I sometimes have energy to do my 30 Days of Yoga, I sometimes just read or work on my blog.
I’m glad I’ve done it. The hope is that, if I take this challenge now, then when I have to take time off of exercise in the future because I’m busy or on vacation or something like that, I’ll feel comfortable and confident taking that rest time without feeling the need to restrict food.
And with that in mind, here were my odd noms from Monday:
Finally, unpictured, I heated up a few more chicken tenders for an evening snack when I got home from work. It feels weird to me to eat meat as a snack, but those things have been my craving of choice lately.
Have you ever taken time away from regular exercise? Was it challenging? How did you feel?