How to Ruin Exercise

June, 2011.

Heart pounding. 
Breathing labored.
Muscles straining.

Finishing the last of a set of 10 hill sprints, I reached the crest of the hill and threw my arms in the air, relieved beyond words that this terrible ordeal was over.

I had eaten like a pig that week. End of school potlucks. A neighborhood cookout. And hey, a sale on Equal Exchange chocolate at Whole Foods.

So now I was at the bottom of Stirling Drive, near the river access, punishing my tubby body with heroic exertion.

I was forging a sloppy, overeating, undisciplined Howie into a mean, lean exercising machine. That would show me!

Sure, it was a monster workout. But here's the kicker: How soon would I want to repeat it?

Answer: never. 

It sucked. It wasn't fun. It wasn't uplifting.

And while, sure, it got the blood flowing and all the other good things that exercise does, the mindset overlay of "atonement" pretty much ensured that I never wanted to do it again.

And so it was months before I pushed myself into another hard workout.

The problem wasn't the workout itself. It was the mental wrapper.

That's why "Exercise as Atonement" is the second of the 3 High Hurdles to Weight Loss and Health.

You can watch that segment from minutes 16-25, roughly.

Howard JacobsonComment