Obvious Lessons in Exercise: We’re All Stuck Embodied

I don't fsck with not getting exercise anymore.

I do at least the basics (pushups/situps/squats/triceps/or something), stretching, and some weightlifting, at least a few times a week, no matter what.  I also make sure to get a workout from walking — I walk fast, concentrate on my form, and always take the stairs.  And this is not difficult — know why?  Because there's been SO much positive reinforcement from doing it, that I'd sooner not eat food at this point, than not exercise. 

Exercise means I stay warm, feel alert, don't feel sore, am not anywhere near as stressed, and go through my days feeling strong and solid and reassuringly capable.  Many other people either limp along, due to age or weakness, or they're fine but only by luck; if they fell or suddenly had to catch something or move something or burst into action, they'd be at risk — but I get to feel all the time like I'm in nearly top condition for my size, age and build.  (Some lucky suckers get to feel like this anyway, but I never did; even when I was young, I was pretty weak from…oh right…lack of exercise.) 

Oh, and I get to look nice.  I'm not a model-type and I'm not a bodybuilder; I'm not "cut" and I don't really care — I don't do the kinds of working out that burn of all one's fat, really — but having well-exercised muscles means a) a pleasing overall shape and b) effortless control of excess body-fat.  You can pinch an inch on me (which, no matter what anyone says, plenty of people consider attractive anyway) — but I went and bought some pants that fit the other day, and after a massive trying-on-of-things, guess what I learned?  That since I started working out, I've gone from a solid size US 10, cresting into 12, down to a 6.  Without trying to lose weight at all.  That's the size I wore in high-school, by the way, and it isn't tight on me today.  I wouldn't wear a bikini — as if I ever have, or want to — but I feel good and I know I look pretty damn good. 

To that last phrase:  Knowing you look good is one of those things that I, at least, wish didn't matter; but we're social creatures, and it just does.  It doesn't require being the prettiest person anywhere to reap the benefits — knowing that you look good for you is enough.  Knowing that you're strong and healthy for you is good enough too.  The mental change is quite profound — it gives you the confidence to act like yourself around people that you otherwise might have backed down to for stupid reasons…because they're younger, or thinner, for example.  You see that all the time in a social work-environment, and it often leads to incompetent people getting a big raise or promotion simply because the more competent person didn't like holding themselves up for comparison against the young/skinny person, simply because they aren't confident about the shape they're in — not compared to others, but relative to how they themselves could be.  An older person or heavier person who exercises and is in good shape is a truly formidable opponent in the workplace; their decades of experience is a powerful asset, but only if they're not afraid to use it.  (Some people — especially autism-spectrum people, in my experience — can actually just ignore the whole physical side of those equations.  But most people can't, or don't.)

We're all stuck being embodied, dammit. 

For the price of a few minutes every other day, it's possible to make that an asset, even if it's usually a detriment to you.  Even if you're in a wheelchair, working out the muscles you can will make you feel and look better.  Exercise is just a no-lose proposition, and I'm rather irked that I didn't know this, or know how to take advantage of it, until I was thirty.  But it's made being thirty far more awesome than it could have been!

About puredoxyk

Word addict, kungfu/taiji nut, and life-partner to polyphasic sleep. Rabid fan of as many hobbies as the world will let me pry into its piddly fourth dimension (it helps to have knocked out the wall).
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6 Responses to Obvious Lessons in Exercise: We’re All Stuck Embodied

  1. muflax says:

    I'm currently following Convict Conditioning, a totally awesome book about bodyweight exercises. I really like that it has detailed progressions for every exercise, starting with "stuff my grandma can do", so it doesn't require me to already be fit to get fit. And it feels a lot like leveling up.

    My favorite exercise right now are shoulderstand squats. Having to keep balance while inverted is totally weird. I'm also enjoying my slow progression towards pull-ups, simply because I've never been able to do them in my life. But now that I have a complete progression, it's seems totally doable. "Sure I can do this easy form. Next week, I'll do them a bit more often. Then I'll make it a bit harder. And when I can do this form, the next form won't be much of a challenge, either." I found that this inevitability is the key factor for me. Kills all the doubt that I'm too weak or have bad genes or whatever. But pure spite towards all my gym teachers helps, too. ;)

    • puredoxyk says:

      Holy crap, that sounds awesome! I get bored so easily, and am so easily swayed by the OO, SHINY! of new crazy skills and stuff (ask me how long I’ve milked the fact that I can almost imitate the “Earth Nation kick” from the beginning of The Last Airbender) … that’s SO going on my Wish List. Thank you!

  2. muflax says:

    RAW wrote in Prometheus Rising,
    "Whenever you meet a young male or female, ask yourself consciously, 'If it came to hand-to-hand combat, could I beat him/her?' Then try to determine how much of your behavior is based on unconsciously asking and answering that question via per-verbal 'body language'."
    I'm a skinny 24 year old nerd (think Bernard from DOTT), never exercised, thought all this "body" crap is just nonsense. What have looks or strength to do with how confident I am or how well I interact with other people? Started to develop some early back problems during meditation and decided to pick up a general strength-focused workout. I'm now kinda sad on the days I don't get to exercise because it's so much fun and makes me feel oh-so-sane. (Well, less insane anyway.)
    I wish I had a time machine like Bernard (I like picking doubly appropriate analogies just as much as I like quoting RAW as scripture) to go back a few years and tell myself, "Screw the incompetent teachers and do exercise the right way. You'll thank me in just a week."
    Great post

    • puredoxyk says:

      Awesome, muflax! What’s your favorite exercise, now? Mine have ended up being squats, mostly because if I do them, I feel like I “got everything”, and even if I can get no other exercise, I’ve gotta at least have that. ;) I also have a situp I like; I’m not sure the name, to the extent that I’m starting to suspect I invented it….I hacked a pilate’s one with a form from the Temple and have been calling it “monk situps”. I work with several weight-training people, and I’m the ONLY one who can do any of my situps! ;)

      (The thing that always held me up with exercise is how BORING it can get. Silly modifications help!) Thanks for the comment!

  3. John says:

    Spot on, it's truly amazing what excercise does to your physical and mental well-being.
    I've been weightlifting 4 times/week for about 2 months now. The first few times at the gym is painful and awkward but after about a week you feel so good you're cursing yourself for not starting sooner.
    It's a huge boost for your confidence right off the bat. Because even though you know you still look like a slob, you know it's only temporary, it's only gonna get better if you stick to it.
    Very inspirational post, PD.

  4. marzzbar says:

    I want to print out this blog post and stick it somewhere to encourage me to exercise. Thanks!

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