Fitness, Food and Fat Nerds

Thursday, February 16, 2012
So my pal Rachael over at 4.5 Millions Years of Wonder posted a blog entry yesterday about how engaging in an exercise routine is all about finding something fun to do. She posits that nerds in general will always find something better to do rather than exercise if they don't enjoy it.

I think Rachael has a point - people will find themselves averse to continuing the Bataan Death march that is exercise if they don't enjoy it, but I'm afraid I'm a statistical outlier in her hypothesis. Here are the facts as they relate to me personally:
  • Exercising blows. I mean, it blows HARD. I simply despise the act of exercising, and no amount of trying to make it "fun" is going to change my mind. It's boring, and sweating sucks. Although I will admit to liking how I feel after I do it.
  • All those people who say "nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" are patently full of shit. A Ding Dong tastes much better than being thin feels, and that's just food porn - don't get me started on say, a fabulous dinner at the Brown Palace. 
  • People who say that "keeping fit is hard, and staying fat is hard, so choose which hard thing you want to pursue" are also full of shit. Staying fat is easy as hell - all you have to do is sit on the couch and eat Ding-Dongs, nature's perfect food porn. You might make a case that BEING fat is hard, though, depending on what you value in terms of your self-esteem.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with food. Not eating what I want (including the aforementioned food porn) ALL THE TIME takes effort on my part, and often I get sick of thinking about it...and gain weight. And then I feel bad. Lather, rinse, repeat. As I've gotten older I've gotten better at that "moderation" thing, but it hasn't been easy, and it hasn't happened overnight.
  • I don't like "activity" in a general sense unless it involves shopping at the local Outlet Mall. So finding something I enjoy that will get me moving is problematic. I don't think watching Dr. Who, knitting, or writing for my blog gives much much of a cardiovascular workout.
And yet, I do exercise, and have done so consistently and with discipline for many years. Even though I hate it. And you want to know why?
  • I'm terrified of the Mad Cow. Studies have shown a significant decrease in risk for various forms of dementia in women who engage in aerobic exercise beginning in middle age. So I may end up being a crotchety old fat ass (Hi, Helen!), but I'll be a mentally acute crotchety old fat ass.
  • I've had clinical depression for years. I'm extremely fortunate that I'm able to control it with aerobic exercise, so I do.
  • I've recently added strength training to my regimen because I decided that there's something worthwhile in being strong, if only in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. Not to mention pushing off that whole osteoporosis thing.
I think Rachael's best point is that those of us who are not natural athletes (i.e., nerds) end up getting ostracized during our school years for not being athletic enough, and that colors how we see fitness. I don't need to be an "athlete" to be strong and fit, and now, for the first time in many, many years, I feel STRONG. And AWESOME in my strength. Because I am. In spite of my loathing for the act of exercising, getting rid of that leftover feeling from my school years has been worth it. And I guess that's enjoyable enough.

12 comments:

Warner said...

Wife and I joined a gym back in October, won't say I hate it although I find aerobics very boring. On the other hand since I started walking back in April I'm down 20 pounds and one pant size.

9 more pounds to go.

Matt said...

I have wrestled with the fitness demon for years and I was a two sport athlete once upon a time. I've noticed a correlation between bad times and low self esteem driving me to exercise. Perhaps not the best of reasons to exercise and be fit, but it probably beats being a big fat ass and dying early, so I'll take it. You see, I really really like good food and the drinks that go with them, so something has to give.

Although exercise is never fun for me, I have found ways to cope. In the weight room, I've found it helps to not only have a plan, but to put a time element to it, allowing you to concentrate for smaller periods of time within the framework of your overall workout. As far as cardio goes, I'm afraid nothing I've found helps me to get through an hour on the elliptical or treadmill except good music on the ipod . . . that way I can let the beat drive the tempo of my workout while I daydream I'm a rock star or some such thing.

The payoff comes when I look in the mirror and see a toned and healthy me looking back and when I notice that my joint and back pain seem to have gone away. Working out is also a big help if you're quitting smoking, though if your a long time smoker, I'd see my doc before I hit it hard. Like Janiece noticed with her depression, working out causes an endorphin rush that will help with tobacco cravings too.

mattw said...

I've been dealing with weight for a while, and have convinced myself that the waistline in my pants isn't actually getting reduced by vicious gnomes while I sleep. I've tried to start a jogging routine or something, as opposed to the usual nothing. No real results yet, but it's only been a couple weeks. I'm trying to make myself stick with it.

I'm reading The Nerdist Way (essentially a self-help book for nerds) and am just getting to the part about exorcizing. I'm hoping there's some ideas in there that will help keep me going.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Seriously, thank you for dragging my ass to the gym this past weekend. It has re-ignited my interest. As an active geek, while I enjoy the workout, and seating is good, I would MUCH rather read a book. But NOT the one you were listening to about politics. Nuh-uh.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Sigh. I'm OK with SWEATING. But seating is good, too, especially when you're tired.

Jeri said...

I love swimming. It makes me happy. But the chlorine damaging my hair and skin and giving me constant sinus issues is not so much fun. Also the Y's insane schedule giving lap swimmers access before 7:30am or after 8:30pm isn't fun either.

If I had my own personal salt water lap pool (and pool boy to care for it) I'd swim daily, for protracted periods of time. It's all the extraneous issues that keep me yoyoing back and forth, swimming/not swimming.

I need to get it together. Janiece, I admire the heck out of you!

Thordr said...

Kick ass Janice, don't even bother to take names.

Rachael said...

I think it still works, though, because you've found something that you like about exercising - how it makes you feel. Not quite as awesome as loving the act of exercising itself, but it definitely works as motivation!

Megan said...

I exercise almost obsessively, because I know how easy it would be for me to slide back into being -- well, fat.

beatrice in Paris said...

I chuckled so hard when I read the first few lines of this post that hubby asked me if I was reading "the jam lady's blog." Funny!
I get you on the sweat thing. I don't like it either. Back in my healthy days I used to swim so I didn't have to feel my sweat, because that's just GROSS!

Dana Teel said...

I'm already the proverbial fat ass. I gained 100 pounds in the year after I quit smoking. I was using the VA smoking cessation program at the time (1998) and when we got to the typical effects of quitting, one thing they mentioned is that many gain weight. I brought my concerns to the program coordinator and he said words to the effect, don’t worry about that now. Get the smoking stopped and then tackle other issues, just concentrate on getting stopped. Well that worked, I did stop smoking. The worrying about the weight, well that’s been happing now for quite a few years and I still have a lot of excess weight. I’ve attended the VA weight loss clinic in the mean time and I lost 30 pounds or so from that effort, but I still have a long way to go. Truly it’s as simple as calories burned have to exceed calories taken in, it’s not rocket science, but the motivation to burn off calories lacking. That might qualify as the understatement of the year for me. Ok, no exercise and lots of good food is probably a great recipe if you’re waiting to collect on my life insurance. I’ll probably get motivated right after my first heart attack. I wish you the best of luck in fighting the bulge Janice…..do you think they serve that pie with ice cream?

Janiece said...

Dana, I feel you pain. Boy do I feel your pain.

I'm now at a point where I've convinced myself that the price of Ding Dongs is extra laps or time on the elliptical. I'm hoping that's sufficient, as it seems most unlikely that I'm going to give up the Ding Dongs at this late date.