Exercise! - Ability to exercise intensely: In the body or in the mind?




fitness4life
03-14-2012, 10:11 AM
Your input will help me write an article for the local paper.

The topic is loathing exercise.

I plan on writing that most everybody loathes exercise at some point, or even all the time but that with practice, people can crave it, or at least crave the endorphines that follow exercise.

Then I started thinking. Based on my experience running a Biggest Loser type program at my gym, I have seen all participants loathe working out and here in our 10th week, most of the group have made the switch to craving the endorphines. Those that don't have excuses not medically documented.
Meaning, smells like b.s. to me.

What percentage would you guess that out of shape people actually have a physical limitation? What percentage would you guess instead have a mental limitation or otherwise personal undesire to exercise that is exposed in the form of exaggeration of physical ailments?

Thanks for helping.


InsideMe
03-14-2012, 10:44 AM
Mmmmm I think a lot of it is mental. You can do any type of exercise to cater to your physical limitations. If you have a bad back, sit in a chair and move your arms, go for a walk, low impact, etc...you can find SOMETHING that wouldn't put strain on physical ailments, as long as you get moving.

I'm realizing more and more as I've been getting more fit how mental it is. If I THINK I'm tired, my body feels that way. If I really push (even through the grunting and swearing) I usually can keep going, although at times I do break but I do more than I thought I could. That feels AMAZING!

I totally believe in the mind/body connection. Or even in that old children's tale, the little engine that could ;) If you think you can you can, if you think you can't you can't.....

novangel
03-14-2012, 10:59 AM
Majority can but think they can't...


astrophe
03-14-2012, 11:00 AM
That's why I wear my heart rate monitor.

I accept not EVERY workout is going to be stellar. Just like not every day at work is destined to be stellar. But we still go to work. I still want to work out.

But what I perceive as "hard" isn't always body hard.

It can be just regular workout and the HRM is telling me so -- "There's the beats, lady. It's might FEEL harder than ever before, but it's the same intensity as yesterday! "

Sometimes it may be LOWER than yesterday because I'm in the pits emotionally and feeling draggy.

Sometimes I'm really sick (ex: flu) but if I'm otherwise well and it's moods... well, the HRM lets me know objectively.

Now what it TAKES to get my beats to where they need to be? As a rebeginner -- just a basic DVD or wii fit plus step aerobics and similar games is enough. I'm enjoying this stage while it lasts, and I know it is because I'm at this high a weight again. I'm doing relatively light work but carrying lots of poundage!

I also know from old workout logs that what it took to get to the beats was more work -- jogging for instance.
But I'm not ready to jog 6mph any time soon. This is a physical obstacle of my obesity at this point. I'm not merely out of shape. I'm out of shape AND obese!

I need to get closer to 200 lb before arriving at that stage. I can wear chest armor like an Enell bra to minimize breast bounce, but I can't wrap up a pendulous tummy in anything that isn't awkward. Having it slinging around is NOT comfortable and I'm not looking to add to my collection of stretch marks. :D

So I think THAT kind of physical limitation asks for other types of exercise -- walk instead of run. Swim in the pool/water aerobics fo joints are cushioned, different yoga poses that take big belly into consideration, etc. At least for a while as it shrinks.

HTH!
A

kaplods
03-14-2012, 02:52 PM
I believe there's absolutely no basis for "guessing." That being said, I saw a recent talk show in which family members who accused their fat relatives of "just being too lazy" to exercise as well as "whining and complaining too much about their difficulties..." were weighted down with the amount of extra weight that their loved one carried. Then they were sent out to do various things with their fat loved one (from shopping at a mall to attempting exercise).

In every case, the thin weighted down person couldn't keep up with their loved one. They couldnt' take as many stairs, walk as long without resting, and they complained a lot more...


Being overweight can make it very difficult and unpleasant to exercise, as can other physical issues. But not all fat people hate exercise (and a lot of very thin people DO!).

I also think the biggest obstacles to exercise for fat people isn't the physical components it's the socio-emotional issues - the stigma against it. People stare, laugh, and make rude comments. Learning to ignore what other people say, can be very difficult.

We're also taught that we're not worthy of "fun" exercise, or that it's not right for us to choose fun exercise (or that fun exercise somehow isn't effective.)

Learning to overcome physical limitations (when they exist) and the social obstacles to becoming active, isn't easy. It can be done, but it feels like "breaking the rules," because in a very real way we are.

Water exercise is one of the best ways that a fat or disabled person can begin getting active, and yet there is such a social stigma about being seen in a swimsuit when one doesn't have a perfect body.

I've been fat most of my life, and I've always LOVED swimming, because it was one of the few places my weight didn't physically slow me down. I could compete with my friends and win races, only in the water. But even as a fat eight year old, I knew that I wasn't supposed to like swimming. I wasn't supposed to be willing to be seen in a swimming suit.

patchworkpenguin
03-14-2012, 03:39 PM
I can only speak for myself, but in my own situation I was in my 30's, close to 300lbs and hadn't done any formal exercise since PE which I hated. I'm about the least competitive person out there so team sports or pushing to beat someone else seemed pointless to me, add in vision problems {I can't hit a ball I can't see}, and being a total klutz all gave me the impression that I wasn't good at exercise, so why bother. My vision and klutz combined to make me trip a lot so when I fall I land on my left knee, nothing bad enough to go to the dr about but now I'm overweight, tired all the time and my knees hurt a lot. I don't feel I have the energy to workout and don't want to risk injuring my knees further.

On the advice of my dr. I slowly started to exercise with short beginner VHS workouts, so I found I really enjoy exercise; at home, alone, by myself, with no one watching/judging. I've strengthened my muscles so that my knee issues are pretty much gone. I'm active and fit, exercise about an hour a day, if still overweight.

In my case, experience had taught me that being active wasn't something I was good at or enjoyed, so I wasn't going to torture myself by trying again, but once I got past the fear of badly damaging my knees, I was able to realize that there was more to exercise than PE or competitive sports.

threenorns
03-14-2012, 04:21 PM
imo, i'd say about 70% of men and 95% of women at the gym are not working to their potential.

f.ex, my neighbour in the apartment building: i've SEEN her coming up the hall toting half-a-dozen bags of groceries and her slingbag purse that could probably double as a parachute in an emergency, keys in her mouth, and a screaming 4yr old on her hip. she took the stairs to the 3rd floor because the elevator was too slow.

then i see her at the gym struggling with a 25lb bar doing squats!? i mean - c'MON - the kid alone weighs more than 25lbs!

women on the leg press - sweating and straining and groaning "i can't! i can't!" and it's only 70-80lbs. "lady - you just told me you weigh 130 - i'm preeeeetty sure your legs can manage more than 70lbs."

they can have spot perfect technique but it's a double-pronged attack of societal attitudes that a "lady" just "can't" do "heavy" weights and also a fear of looking masculine from overdeveloped muscles that short-circuits their efforts.

MariaMaria
03-14-2012, 05:50 PM
So this article will be saying that the reason you can't work out as hard as I tell you to is because you're either lazy or mentally ill?

I think The Biggest Loser is interesting as TV, but there's no way on this earth that I'd ever, ever, ever pay someone to treat me like the TBL trainers treat their castmembers. And I suspect that there are a lot of potentially paying customers who'd agree with me.

fitness4life
03-15-2012, 12:27 PM
I am SO happy with all of the responses. What an excellent array of opinions! I agree with every single one. That's what's so hard about this newspaper article. I don't want to disrespect or catagorize any thing. However, in my 20 years of experience, I have gotten a feel for b.s. but I never ever throw that feeling in anyone's face.

A good example of this is a veteran of boot camp and well documented chronic complainer of "it's too hard!" for the past 6 years. He started complaining of pains in his core about 2 months ago. I taught him modifications of what the group was doing and told him to listen to his body and stop at the "injury" pain. From his experience, I was confident he differentiated between injury and fatigue.

It turns out, he has 2 major hernias and needs surgery! He wasn't the whipy complainer, he was ligit!

So Ya never know.

That aside, I have had much, much more experience with chronic complainers that use fantom pains or exaggerate whatever to limit their exertion. To them I say the same. Don't hurt yourself. Monitor your pain and stop at injury pain. I don't care if you do the work or not. It's not for me. It's for you. What do you want to do and what do you want to own? An excuse? Or results.

Thank you so much. I cannot wait to write!

Mrshonopolist
03-15-2012, 01:01 PM
For me, it's mostly mental. It's mostly me trying to break the bad habit of being a couch potato. I think when a "couch potato" starts to exercise for the first time in years (for many) it is physically hard to do. Your body is so used to laying around. Personally I am scared to go to a gym. I am so embarrassed to work out in front of people, it's like a mental block.

kaplods
03-15-2012, 01:15 PM
I have had much, much more experience with chronic complainers that use fantom pains or exaggerate whatever to limit their exertion. To them I say the same. Don't hurt yourself. Monitor your pain and stop at injury pain. I don't care if you do the work or not. It's not for me. It's for you. What do you want to do and what do you want to own? An excuse? Or results.


I would caution you against assuming that "chronic complainers" are exagerating or imagining their pains and limitations.

For most of my life, I've been accused of being such a person by family, doctors, teachers, and other people in my life - to the point that I believed them all.

After all, what else could explain the fact that on some days I could be extremely active, and other days, for no apparent reason (no heavy exertion in the prior days, etc) I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and I realized that I've had it, at least since high school.

The "phantom" pains weren't phantom at all, they're the result of a neurotransmitter disorder.

I now know how to take care of my fibro, and even prevent most of the triggers (such as sleep deprivation, and overexertion). The best advice for folks with chronic pain issues is NOT to push beyond pain. I know my fibro pain isn't "injury pain," but if I exercise to the point of pain, I'm physically wiped out for days.

All my life, I believed the hype that exercising intensely to maximum capability was the only "right" way to exercise. So I'd exercise really hard, and then often be unable to move for several days. I began to dread exercise, because I never did it any way that didn't end up with me in pain.

Except for swimming. I loved swimming. I could swim all day and not get tired of it (and yes I mean swim, not just spsash around, treading water), and it's very hard (not impossible, but very hard) to injure yourself while swimming.

I think that most people (thin and fat) would be more physically active if they didn't believe that moderate exercise wasn't good enough (or even worth attempting). So instead of say walking several miles every day, they run one mile once a week.

They believe exercise must be intense enough to cause discomfort (if not pain), and then when they're so sore for the next three days, that it makes every day movement hurt, and it puts them off exercise AT LEAST for those three days, and often much more it creates the association between movement and pain.

I'm getting more and more active, and able to do much more on the gym equipment than I've been able to do since college, but to "get here" I had to ignore the advice to "push myself" to my limits. I now know I have to stop when I get tired, not when I'm about to pass out.

fitness4life
03-15-2012, 03:22 PM
I would caution you against assuming that "chronic complainers" are exagerating or imagining their pains and limitations.

For most of my life, I've been accused of being such a person by family, doctors, teachers, and other people in my life - to the point that I believed them all.

After all, what else could explain the fact that on some days I could be extremely active, and other days, for no apparent reason (no heavy exertion in the prior days, etc) I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and I realized that I've had it, at least since high school.

The "phantom" pains weren't phantom at all, they're the result of a neurotransmitter disorder.

I now know how to take care of my fibro, and even prevent most of the triggers (such as sleep deprivation, and overexertion). The best advice for folks with chronic pain issues is NOT to push beyond pain. I know my fibro pain isn't "injury pain," but if I exercise to the point of pain, I'm physically wiped out for days.

All my life, I believed the hype that exercising intensely to maximum capability was the only "right" way to exercise. So I'd exercise really hard, and then often be unable to move for several days. I began to dread exercise, because I never did it any way that didn't end up with me in pain.

Except for swimming. I loved swimming. I could swim all day and not get tired of it (and yes I mean swim, not just spsash around, treading water), and it's very hard (not impossible, but very hard) to injure yourself while swimming.

I think that most people (thin and fat) would be more physically active if they didn't believe that moderate exercise wasn't good enough (or even worth attempting). So instead of say walking several miles every day, they run one mile once a week.

They believe exercise must be intense enough to cause discomfort (if not pain), and then when they're so sore for the next three days, that it makes every day movement hurt, and it puts them off exercise AT LEAST for those three days, and often much more it creates the association between movement and pain.

I'm getting more and more active, and able to do much more on the gym equipment than I've been able to do since college, but to "get here" I had to ignore the advice to "push myself" to my limits. I now know I have to stop when I get tired, not when I'm about to pass out.

First of all, thanks for correcting my misspelling of Phantom. lol

Secondly, your point was exactly MY point. That you never know when chronic pain complaints are legit. I am not a doctor. Even doctors get it wrong and have the same dilemma with chronic compainers.
'
For you, you were thankfully able to get an accurate diagnosis.

All should advocate for themselves in a situation where they know they're not just exaggerating or making excuses and get real help. Duh.

The original question was adressing those who in their own mind know they have nothing really wrong with them and present excuses. The question was to guesstimate how much of the population does this.

I'm sorry for your ailment. I'm glad you got that off your chest. But you missed the point. Or maybe, You made my point. Not that you're a chronic complainer at ALL, no. I'm just saying, how the heck do we all differentiate between some one like you (legit) and someone who thinks they have an excuse or an excuse that everyone will give them a pass for.

I hate excuses, to be honest. I make them myself. It's like we have to prove to someone else for our own disappointment in ourself. Truth is, the excuse doesn't fix the problem that we're disappointed in ourself. Own the true reason why we're disappointed and find the solution. That's self help. No one else needs to know.

threenorns
03-15-2012, 04:07 PM
that's another thing: to many ppl avoid "pain" at all costs when they can't tell the difference between PAIN and legitimate discomfort.

it *should* go: workout and feel fine, maybe a little pooped, more likely energized. wake up the next day stiff and sore. wake up the day after feeling like you've been king kong's pinata. wake up the next day just feeling stiff and sore and then it's a quick recovery from there.

that's normal, that's fine - it's called DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).

but ppl associate that with BAD pain.

bad pain is very different - you pick up the barbell and your immediate reaction is "oh crap". you *know* something's gone wrong. it's immediate, it's there.

once you get into a regular exercise routine, have committed to it, and have your goals lined up, you actually start to almost glory in DOMS - many times i've sat at the shake bar with one or more other lifters and we moan and groan about our pecs, our thighs, our butts, "omg, my abs... i couldn't even pick up my shoes this morning".

when you hear that? we're actually bragging.

kaplods
03-15-2012, 05:00 PM
First of all, thanks for correcting my misspelling of Phantom. lol

Secondly, your point was exactly MY point. That you never know when chronic pain complaints are legit. I am not a doctor. Even doctors get it wrong and have the same dilemma with chronic compainers.
'
For you, you were thankfully able to get an accurate diagnosis.

All should advocate for themselves in a situation where they know they're not just exaggerating or making excuses and get real help. Duh.

The original question was adressing those who in their own mind know they have nothing really wrong with them and present excuses. The question was to guesstimate how much of the population does this.

I'm sorry for your ailment. I'm glad you got that off your chest. But you missed the point. Or maybe, You made my point. Not that you're a chronic complainer at ALL, no. I'm just saying, how the heck do we all differentiate between some one like you (legit) and someone who thinks they have an excuse or an excuse that everyone will give them a pass for.

I hate excuses, to be honest. I make them myself. It's like we have to prove to someone else for our own disappointment in ourself. Truth is, the excuse doesn't fix the problem that we're disappointed in ourself. Own the true reason why we're disappointed and find the solution. That's self help. No one else needs to know.


You've missed MY point that is that it can be very difficult to BE an advocate for yourself, when you don't know that you need to be, because you have been convinced "in your own mind that you have nothing really wrong with you and are just presenting excuses."

How can we "guesstimate" how many people are "making excuses" when we don't know whether they're making excuses at all (or when we've convinced them that they are).

If you have a compound fracture (a bone is sticking out of your skin), you know to be an advocate for yourself, but many times it's not nearly that simple.

People don't know enough about their own bodies, minds, or exercise physiology to differentiate between "normal" discomfort/pain and abnormal, injurious pain.

Having a bachelor's and master's degree in psychology, I'm well aware of the possibility of hypochoncriasis and the power of the mind, which should have provided me with an advantage, instead it only blurred the issue. I was well aware that I "could be" making excuses, and therefore falsely assumed that I was. In fact, I wanted to believe the doctors when they said nothing was wrong, and it was easier to believe that I was lazy than to believe there was something wrong with me that the doctors and I didn't understand.

It is generally assumed that issues such as fibromyalgia and other issues that involve chronic pain and fatige are rare, but we're discovering that they are not. Many people without a medical background dismiss fibromyalgia and related disorders are psychological in origin. Even a few doctors still believe so, despite the fact that physiological differences have been found.

If I hadn't encountered a neurologist who understood the disorder, and explained it to me (that I was actually doing damage and reducing my capacity by pushing myself to my limits), I would have continued to believe that I just had to keep pushing myself.

I don't know, and I don't know that anyone can know how many people are just making excuses, and how many just don't understand what's going on in their own bodies.

What I do know is that we're not taught to trust our own bodies. We're taught that pain and discomfort should be part of exercise. And it's one of the reasons some people avoid exercise and even normal activity, because they're afraid of pain (which is normal), but they've been convinced that they need to feel pain in order for exercise to do any good.

And so much of the pain isn't necessary at all. It's amazing how much exercise a person can do without any pain whatsoever. Yes, mild soreness is normal, but if you're having difficulty walking without wincing that isn't normal muscle soreness. We're not taught the difference.

And to make things more complicated, you can hurt yourself pretty badly without feeling any discomfort until it's too late. Stress fractures and small bone fractures of the foot are extremely common in very overweight people, and some don't even show up on x-rays immediately. So you have severe pain when walking, but the x-ray shows no break, so the doctor tells you there's nothing wrong, and it will get better with exercise, but it never does, but since the x-ray didn't show a break, you might not find out until a year later (my experience) that several small bones in your foot have been broken, and there's now nothing that can be done, except for surgery that you can't afford - and which may or may not help.

Learning to really understand and trust your experience is very difficult when it comes to pain and discomfort, because we've been told to ignore pain, or have been taught not to distinguish it. And even when we try, we're going to make mistakes.

I was doing really well this summer, and in the fall, joined my YMCA's October challenge, in which we had to do 30 minutes of exercise on different equipment throughout the gym. When I tried the elyptical, I was very tired after 5 minutes, but I was determined to do the 30 minutes to "count" the session. Even though it was very uncomfortable, I didn't consider it real "pain," so I kept going until I finished.

In hindsight, I realize that I didn't "listen" to my pain, because it wasn't like pain I was used to. Usually my knees and calves start hurting before anything else, so I can usually determine my level of exertion by how much my knees and calves hurt. With the knee and calf pain absent, I didn't listen to other signs that I'd had enough. I didn't experience real pain, just a strong weakness in my legs, and intense sweating and a headache that I didn't notice because of my determination to do the 30 minutes (which is why I hate seeing what they put contestants through on TBL - they don't respect or listen to people's experience of exhaustion or pain).

I only knew I was in trouble, when my legs buckled as I attempted to get off the machine. Luckily, my husband was right behind me, and saw my panic and he left his weight machines to assist me off the machine and to the lobby so I could sit and rest.

As it turned out, I had done far more damage than I expected. It did heal within a week, but walking hurt terribly, and getting up and down from a seated position was excrutiating (I literally cried at the mere thought of going to the restroom, and the actual experience was much worse).

Is my experience unusual? I have absolutely no idea, but regardless it's still a struggle to learn to recognize, acknowledge, and act appropriately to the experience of pain and fatigue.

Yes people need to understand that pain isn't the end of the world, but they also have to learn to really listen and learn about their own experience of pain and what each type of pain or discomfort means. And that's difficult when we're taught to assume (even of ourselves) that we're "just making excuses."

threenorns
03-15-2012, 05:34 PM
when you have a clinical condition, that's an entirely different ball park.

my bff also has fibromyalgia, as does my mother. my mother avoids *anything* that causes the slightest discomfort - i mean *anything* - with the result that her weight has climbed seriously, she needs a CPAP machine because she's having 40+ apnea episodes *per hour* and her doctor cannot get her blood pressure and heart problems under control.

my bff not only has fibro, she's got lupus and probably also has MS (hard to tell because the conditions are all tangling together). she keeps herself underweight by a touch (she's five-eight, looks best at 135 but tries to keep it in the high 120s). she works out religiously - if it's a bad day, she limits it to walking but every day, she spends 30 minutes doing something for no other reason than to stay active. she's noticed that when she does exercise, while it's not comfortable for her, she experiences fewer episodes where she loses her legs (literally: she walks into the mall and comes out in a wheelchair until her legs come back online) and she relies on her mobility assists less.

and, to be fair, the number of ppl in the gym and taking fitness classes that have clinical conditions is a lot lower than the number of ppl who are perfectly fine, physically speaking, and are in the gym or taking fitness classes because they "have" to and would really rather be doing something else.

fitness4life
03-15-2012, 08:31 PM
Kaplods, with utmost sympathy, I agree with threenorms in that your sitch is outside of the original question.

Anyone else have input?

theox
03-15-2012, 09:34 PM
The original question was adressing those who in their own mind know they have nothing really wrong with them and present excuses. The question was to guesstimate how much of the population does this.

What do you mean? I don't have anything "wrong" with me per se, but I do have ADHD. There's a substantial amount of evidence showing that some parts of ADHDers brains are different than those parts in the brains of the "neurotypical" population. Personally, I suspect that it's a natural variation, the effects (and possibly frequency of occurrence?) of which have been amplified by the particulars of contemporary Western culture. At any rate, that's a physical thing, even though it's not visible and I don't go around announcing it to people IRL.

For most of my life I didn't know what my problem was and therefore couldn't do much about it other than use the coping and compensating techniques I stumbled into. I got the impression that a lot of my honest explanations for why things hadn't gotten done or were so difficult for me (when they "shouldn't" have been, since I'm reasonably smart and generally hard-working) were taken as excuses by people who simply perceived the world very differently and couldn't or wouldn't put themselves in my shoes. I.e., they seemed to think I had a "mental" or "attitude" problem and was lazy. I suppose the depression and anxiety that eventually developed from the undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD could be classified as "mental limitations", but they were debilitating nonetheless and weren't "fixed" until the ADHD was treated and I learned effective techniques for dealing with the thoughts that made me depressed and anxious. Exercise is a part of dealing with all of those, but it didn't go very far by itself. And having people imply (or explicitly state, in some cases) that I just needed to work harder (when I already felt I was working my fat self as much as I reasonably could and probably struggling to crawl of out one my recurring periods of depression (often with serious suicidal ideation), usually while going to school full-time and/or working - and usually doing well at both - not an easy feat for somebody who often struggles to pay attention long enough to get to the bottom of the page) tended to just really piss me off. If I were fat, physically relatively weak and so uncoordinated that I was almost guaranteed to be the lowest-performing student in any gym class for people in my age group (like I am) and felt like the going through basic motions of living pushed me to my mental limits (like I usually did), why would I accept as true and find motivation in - or have any patience at all for - being told (basically) that I just needed stop being lazy? I tended to respond better to (and work harder as a result of) positive, nonjudgmental reinforcement that recognized the effort I was putting in and what I had accomplished.

It's not clear to me why people should always be pushed hard to exercise as "intensely" as possible. Obviously, if a person wants to attain superior physical strength, agility, or skill, they'll need to put an exceptional amount of effort into doing that. But if somebody just wants to work on basic self-improvement, why accuse them of "making excuses" for not putting in what they might not see as a worthwhile investment of their time and energy? And if they "loathe" "exercising", maybe they should just formal exercise programs a break and focus on less-structured activities or just putting a little bit more activity into their day in a way that will give their bodies some work and won't irritate them too much.

People should be made aware that the more they put into any sort of personal development activity, the more they are likely to get out of it. However, if their personal goals or their personal definition of "putting a lot in" is different from other people's, that doesn't mean that they're lazy. They might just be coming from a different place, either physically or mentally. Even if they don't have a "real" illness or disability, the process of learning what they really want to achieve and how to best achieve it could take a while. Even so, if they're doing anything at all they're improving on their previous state of wellness (well, unless they get hurt...). I don't think it's possible to tell or really matters whether a person's problems are "real" to you or anyone else or not. They're real to that person.

My incremental improvements in my eating habits, strength, and stamina have been criticized or laughed at by a few people, but doing things incrementally is the only way I can sustain meaningful progress. I gain a more thorough understanding of what I'm doing and don't fall apart from the pressure of trying to deal with too many changes at once on top of all the normal stressors of life. Also, it's more fun and keeps me from dropping it out of boredom. Other people not understanding that doesn't change that it's what works for me. Maybe I'll be able to handle a heavier load as I get more practice and become more efficient at eating well and being active and one day be judged acceptable in other people's eyes, for everything that's worth.

If people don't like exercising "intensely" and are not required to do so to stay qualified for their job or to make the Olympic team, why try to goad them into doing it? Why not commend them on what they have been able to do and encourage them to find some regular fitness activity that's more suited for their lifestyle, overall fitness/skill level, and personality?

Anyway, good luck with your article. On a semi-related note, have you read Move a Little, Lose a Lot by James Levine and Selene Yeager? I heard an interview with Levine on the People's Pharmacy radio show - the book sounds interesting and potentially useful.

kaplods
03-15-2012, 11:39 PM
About 15 years ago, I had a wonderful supervisor who once told me (I'm paraphrasing):

It's easier to assume that people are "making excuses" than it is to acknowledge that the obstacles in their lives are REAL (to them). People tend to live up or down to our expectations of them, and when we assume someone is doing the best they can - and reward them for that - the more likely they are to continue in a positive direction, often exceeding our expectations for them.


This wasn't about weight loss. I was a new probation officer, and he overheard some of the probation officers complaining about their clients who were "just making excuses."


I also learned that my assumptions made a great deal of difference in how I treated a client. When I assumed they were "making excuses," I wasn't impressed with any of their efforts. The most minor of failures was proof that the person was "just making excuses."

However, when I assumed they were making an effort, and acknowledged not only the effort but even the smallest of successes, it often did wonders. So many of these people were folks who had never experienced true encouragement from anyone.

People KNOW when we think they're losers, whiners, complainers, and excuse-makers (just as we know when people think that of us). It can so easily become a self-fufilling prophecy that I think it works best to believe that people are doing their best (even if their best doesn't meet OUR standards of success), and to work with THAT. Encouraging them to do more, praising them when they do (even if it's "barely more") and building on the successes.

I think in may aspects we're more interested in forcing a person to acknowledge their "excuse-making" than we care about helping the person make progress.

I've seen that in personal trainers and in probation officers. "I don't want to praise this person's efforts, because their efforts aren't good enough. I don't care if praise will increase the person's efforts, I need them to acknowledge that they're an excuse-making F-UP."

I think that trying to define how many people's excuses are legitimate and illegitimate is pointless. They're all legitimate obstacles to that person, and defining one person's obstacles as legitimate and another's as an excuse isn't productive.

It doesn't matter if my reasons for being less active than I could and should be are medical (fibromyalgia, osteo and possibly rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune connective tissue disease, unrepaired fractures in my feet, the added pain of just being 200 lbs overweight....)

and someone else's is that they're worried about time away from their kids, or even just boredom.

I'm not going to say my obstacles are legitimate and there's are not, because to get better you have to address your obstacles.

Ironically, I somehow found it easier to address my more tangible obstacles. In many ways, I dealt better with physical obstacles than I did with the mental/social ones. I wasn't strong enough to overcome some pretty small obstacles such as finding the time for exercise in a busy life, or being ashamed of being seen exercising in public. Maybe I didn't take those obstacles as seriously as I did the disabling effects of physical illness. Or maybe I just needed to have a big enough enemy to fight (when it was just my convenience at stake, exercise was the first thing to be sacrificed in my life. When it was my life, and my quality-of-life I knew that I HAD to reorder my priorities.

It just illustrate that it's better to view them all as obstacles, rather than as excuses or legitimate issues. If you address them all as legitimate obstacles you find ways over or around them, and you do it by your own needs and priorities, not anyone else's.

The people who have obstacles they see as smaller than yours are going to call your obstacles "legitimate reasons," whereas those who believe their own obstacles are greater than yours are going to call yours "excuses."

Excuses and their legitimacy are entirely in the eye of the beholder, and entirely counterproductive to overcoming them. If you refuse to see "excuses" and only see "obstacles" you're better able make changes and to help others make changes.

sensualappeal
03-16-2012, 01:20 AM
I think most of it is mental. I know I didn't like working out when I first started. Then if you do it on a consistent basis, it becomes a habit. I am a person who likes structure, therefore I now like working out because it's a part of my daily routine.

chickadee32
03-16-2012, 02:54 AM
it *should* go: workout and feel fine, maybe a little pooped, more likely energized. wake up the next day stiff and sore. wake up the day after feeling like you've been king kong's pinata. wake up the next day just feeling stiff and sore and then it's a quick recovery from there.



Should? For YOU, from YOUR perspective, to achieve YOUR goals for yourself.

imo, i'd say about 70% of men and 95% of women at the gym are not working to their potential.

So what? Is exercise only worthwhile if someone pushes themselves as hard as they possibly can?


People exercise for different reasons, and with different approaches. As someone who used to loathe exercise, I've found that, for me, enjoying my exercise while achieving improvements are the keys to keeping me exercising and improving my fitness/stamina/strength/etc. It's very similar, actually, to my approach to weight loss - to successfully lose weight, I had to both enjoy what I was eating and see the results of my efforts. If I had made myself miserable while losing weight, I wouldn't have been able to sustain the effort and would have given up.

In regards to the exercise, I'll use running as an example. I tried C25K on two occasions, and both times gave up a few weeks in. I was sincerely trying, but it felt SO hard to me, and I truly hated it. I felt like a failure each time I couldn't complete the runs intervals I was supposed to complete. And so I figured, well, running just isn't for me - I'll never be a runner. But much later, when I started running on my own without a program, and very, VERY slowly - I realized I COULD run, I just had to do it in a way that *I* could be comfortable with. And for me that meant not pushing myself as hard as I had been when I was trying to do C25K. That is, choosing to NOT push myself to the limit of what I could handle was what allowed me to be successful. And now? I run a few times each week. I can do 5 miles at a slow pace, or 3-4 miles at a little faster pace. I'm both happy and sweat-soaked when I finish a run. When I increase my speed too rapidly I end up having a miserable run and feel like a failure when I can't complete it, but when I up my speed slowly and aim for gradual improvements I really love running and look forward to it.

Not everyone wants to push themselves to their limits. Not everyone's primary goal is seeing improvements as rapidly as possible. My goals with exercise are to 1) ENJOY it, because that's what keeps me doing it, and 2) see improvements over time. It has worked for me.


If people don't like exercising "intensely" and are not required to do so to stay qualified for their job or to make the Olympic team, why try to goad them into doing it?
Exactly.

lin43
03-16-2012, 08:52 AM
With regard to the debate about people doing their best vs. making excuses/laziness, I think there's a middle ground. Kaplods, I did not read all of your posts, but I do want to comment on some points in your last post. Those who hold a position of authority or expertise (e.g., probation officer, doctor, personal trainer), must find a balance between giving legitimate praise and challenging someone to reach his/her potential. I must admit that in our society, self-esteem seems to have gone awry, especially among young people. They have been praised to the nth degree for every little thing they do, so that many don't take criticism well and are convinced, to the point of narcissm, that they don't need any improvement----that it is, in fact, the authority figure/expert who is wrong. I agree that it is difficult to impossible sometimes to get into someone's head and really tell if he/she is doing his/her best, but I definitely think there is less humility and more excuse-making today than in years past.

threenorns
03-16-2012, 10:07 AM
Should? For YOU, from YOUR perspective, to achieve YOUR goals for yourself.

actually, no - from a biological perspective, that is how the Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness cycle runs.



So what? Is exercise only worthwhile if someone pushes themselves as hard as they possibly can?

there are many ways of working to their potential, not just going balls-to-the-wall. the majority of ppl aren't doing any of that - they're not even trying to find out what approach works for them - they just follow some article or some trainer and when it doesn't work, they shrug and spend their gym time strolling on the treadmill chatting with their bestie who's cruising on the elliptical.


People exercise for different reasons, and with different approaches. As someone who used to loathe exercise, I've found that, for me, enjoying my exercise while achieving improvements are the keys to keeping me exercising and improving my fitness/stamina/strength/etc. It's very similar, actually, to my approach to weight loss - to successfully lose weight, I had to both enjoy what I was eating and see the results of my efforts. If I had made myself miserable while losing weight, I wouldn't have been able to sustain the effort and would have given up.

which is exactly what i said above.

In regards to the exercise, I'll use running as an example. I tried C25K on two occasions, and both times gave up a few weeks in. I was sincerely trying, but it felt SO hard to me, and I truly hated it. I felt like a failure each time I couldn't complete the runs intervals I was supposed to complete.

same thing - those intervals aren't "thou shalt" run x minutes. those are targets. if you can only do 30 seconds instead of 90, so be it - you do 30 sec until you can do 40, then 50, and so on. once you CAN do the required interval for the required time period, that's when you move on to the next stage. when i trained ppl in the gym, i'd give them, f.ex a 4-wk program involving 3 sets of 8 reps for the bench press.

they can do whatever weight allows them to meet the required sets and reps OR
they can use a higher weight and work up to doing 8 reps - once they've done 3x8 for 4wks, it's time to do a new program. one kid i trained, it took him nearly 3 months to finish the "4wk" program - i did draw the line, however, and made him start with a weight that allowed him to finish 5 reps successfully (any heavier is dangerous).


Not everyone's primary goal is seeing improvements as rapidly as possible.

unfortunately, the vast majority of ppl in the gym and on diets WANT to see "incredible results with a minimum of effort!!!! have your beach body by june!!!!!".

there are various reasons:
1) the constant bombardment by media showing images of (debatable) physical "perfection" so we're all made paranoid because we're merely human.

2) the idea that we shouldn't have to actually strain ourselves - whatever we want should come wafting towards us at our summoning.

3) that there's only one way to do things - "my way or the highway" - and if you can't do it that one way, then you're a miserable failure and you might as well quit.


i signed up for c2k too - i don't run. i don't like running. i'm massively overweight, my boobs are too heavy, and they HURT and if i wear a sports type bra, i feel like i'm being suffocated. but walking is not doing a darned thing for me - and i mean it: i walked 10k/day, winter and summer, for months (i have a border collie) and it did squat-all. there's no gym with a treadmill available unless i want to drive 40 minutes.

which i don't.

so i will run.

i'm supposed to run 30 seconds, walk 90. i figure by the end of march i'll be able to run 30 seconds and that's okay - so a program that "should" take "so" long will take me 10x longer. big deal - i'm not going to win a million dollars if i complete it per spec, am i?

fitness4life
03-16-2012, 05:55 PM
Oh. My. Seems I opened up a can of worms.

Please note that in my earlier posts I state that I'm not an IN YOUR FACE type of trainer and I ALWAYS allow for the client to back down in intensity whenever they feel necessary for all of the reasons stated in other's posts.

I was just simply trying to get a middle of the road opinion on the simple topic. I asked the time and there's now a debate on how to make a clock.

Sorry.