Like the Gwenyth and Chris Martin of not so long ago, exercise and weight loss typically go hand in hand. Their love story tends to go something like this:
• Exercise burns calories, and when you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight.
• Exercise also leads to an increase in overall lean muscle mass, which speeds up your metabolism and guess what? helps you to lose weight.
Given the above, it’s no major leap to marry these two concepts together as the perfect Hollywood power couple and have them live happily ever after. If you are a living, breathing human being, you've seen images of these two together plastered everywhere in the fitness community and related media. If you want to lose weight, putting together and committing to an exercise plan is a an EPIC no brainer. Except that it’s not. And I believe another “conscious uncoupling” is in order. So today I am prepared to be THAT friend. Yes really, the friend who says out loud what all the other friends are whispering about behind this couple’s back.
These two do not belong together.
ACK! The horror! Did I just actually say that? (Two hundred thousand personal trainers may have just fallen over mid squat)
I did. Because in fact, when you get down into the nitty gritty of their current relationship, Exercise and Weight loss really do make for a dysfunctional pair. I know! I know! It seemed so darn promising! A perfect match. How can it be? yada yada. (I'll allow you to have your tinsel town break up melt down here)
So what went wrong? Let's take a moment to stroll down memory lane and reflect on the love affair that was...
*insert E! Hollywood story movie trailer guy voice here*
"It seemed to be love at first sight for Exercise and Weight Loss on the 1980's movie set "Work IT!" as this pair found a seemingly instant sympatico in the typically egoic world of personal image. Weight Loss instantly experienced a meteoric career boost only a few short weeks after hooking up with Exercise, and from that point on the couple became inseparable. They lived a golden life these two,what with the unlimited Nike Airs and the gold flecked leg warmers and things seemed to be going well for this pair for several decades until rumors of unrest began to fly. Stories of abuse soon surfaced, and Weight Loss was accused of alternately doting upon and then completely abandoning Exercise for months at a time. By most insider accounts, Weight Loss tended to be a moody son of a bitch and would blame it's amiable partner for much of it's failure and discontent. Exercise's BFF responded to the rumors saying, "Exercise was always just looking to be accepted for who it was and ultimately for the joy and pleasure it brings to life” It seems that in the end, Exercise felt like it was never going to be enough...never quite able to fill the void between what it could offer and the heavily “weighted” expectations of it’s partner.
The two parted ways. Exercise ended up with the bungalow in Malibu, and is said to be living a happily single life filled with joy, pleasure and connection."
So, metaphor of the stereotypical Hollywood power couple aside, I assure you this does not have to be an acrimonious split. Instead, I suggest an amicable separation of these two that in the end finds them in the same orbit yet interacting more peacefully than they have in years. Here is what I’ve figured out about the importance of separating these ideologies from my very own Exercise/Weight Loss divorce proceedings:
Marc David says, “Eating without pleasure is like trying to stop smoking without breathing." It's no different with exercise. Exclude the joy and pleasure and you just get EFFORT.
Trust me when I say there is no marriage counseling needed here. Finding activities and a mindset where exercise can stand alone as a pleasurable experience that creates both connection to and reverence for our bodies is the best outcome we could hope for. From that place, weight loss and health improvements get to become purely happy side effects of the practice instead of being entangled in an unhappy union of co-dependence. I know it’s scary. We’ve been brain-washed into believing that the sole purpose of exercise is to shape our bodies, but I also know firsthand being a child of this divorce, that both Exercise and Weight Loss have the ability to thrive. Just not so tightly knit together.
Lori Race is a Registered Acupuncturist, Health & Wellness Clinic Owner and Master Certified Life Coach who loves to have conversations about self-compassion and how to translate that concept into real human lives. In her work with patients and clients, Lori uses a combination of Life Coaching tools, Acupuncture and heart centred human connection to help people begin seeing themselves and others through the lens of compassion. Lori is currently writing a book about the impact of meaningful movement practices (aka exercise with intention and connection) on our society’s current body and fitness consciousness.