Friday, 6 April 2012

In Neverland, Exercise is Fun

Exercise sucks.
It just does.

He is just WAAAY to happy

Do you see people in the gym grinning from ear to ear as they deadlift and benchpress?  Do you walk by joggers on the street who are so happy they’re literally bouncing down the street?  (Ok, with the exception of a viral Youtube marathon runner this week “Exceptionally Photogenic Guy”), me neither.  I wasted years of my life in the gym, staring at the same four walls, sweating my ass off in a climate-controlled environment.  I dropped my kids in the free daycare and spent endless hours wiling away the time like a rat on an exercise wheel.  Sure, I got great results.  I was young and thin and firm.  But the cost was dear—I had to be there EVERY DAY, I had to pay for it, I had to show up and sweat my heart out even on the days when I felt like dirt, when it was so tedious I wanted to scream.  Surely there must be a better way?  Were we really designed for THIS?  This tedium?  Was running in circles on an indoor track really making me HEALTHY?  There weren’t even any windows!

They say that diet is 90% of how you look, and exercise is only 10%--so if I look alight living life as a sloth, where's the incentive to exercise?  I know, I know.  We NEED to exercise, blah, blah.  Skinny isn't fit, nor is it firm, after a certain age.....  But why can't it be FUN?

Do you remember when we were all kids, how fun it was to play British Bulldog with our friends, or hopscotch, or skipping rope, or how games of soccer or baseball or street hockey would just spontaneously form and start up?   When we were young, we didn’t say “I need to go outside and get some exercise into my day.”  We didn’t beat ourselves up for “only running 4 kilometers instead of 5”.  We just got out there and found something to do.  We went from sun-up to sun-down and our parents had to call us in to remind us to eat!  Why isn’t it fun like that anymore?   What happened?  How did growing up suck all the fun out of being outside with friends?
Maybe we just shouldn’t have grown up.  I miss those days.  I miss being surrounded by laughter and silliness and chaos.  I want to go back to being a kid when life was fun and thoughtless.


I want to go to Neverland.  Do you remember Neverland?  That’s where the Lost Boys lived, where they never grew up and just went on forever doing fun boy things.  Peter Pan left Neverland and he forgot how to have fun.  He grew up and had to be brought back to Neverland to remember how to have fun again.  In Neverland, I will never have to grow up.  I will play all day long, I will exhaust myself having fun, and at the end of the day I will collapse in my warm bed and sleep like the dead until morning arrives.  Then, with childlike innocence, I will greet the new dawn with excitement and joy, while gobbling down breakfast I will dream up a million adventures that I want to have that day.  I will not think about macronutrients, or calories or whether or not I’ve eaten enough protein to fuel my day.  I will not worry about cottage cheese thighs or if my pants make me look fat.  I will just wolf down whatever is available and GET OUT THERE.  I will return when I am hungry.  I will run like the wind and hang like a monkey and I will stop only to notice the colour of the bird in the tree or the caterpillar on the sidewalk. 
What happened to us all?
Why did we think that exercise had to be hard and had to suck?  Why is it that some of us hate being outside so much that we continue to drive our cars to a rustic-looking box where we sweat every day while telling ourselves that this is good for us, that this is the way it’s supposed to be?
For all of you Crossfitters out there, I envy you.  I envy that you can go there, day after day, and sweat your hearts out, how buff you become, how strong.

Hiking back in November 2011

I can’t be one of you.  I cannot sweat within four walls, no matter how fabulous a community it is in there.  Life is short and the sun shines outside, calling my name.  Now that the spring season has arrived, the warm weather calls me outside and I drop my cloak of winter sloth.  A level of energy awakens inside of me that drives Steve crazy because he cannot keep up with me.  I do not sit still well.  At least, in the warm months I do not.  I want to be outside, from sun-up to sun-down.  I want to run and hike and bike and blade, I want to dig in the garden and move rocks around.  I want to GO.  Anywhere!  As long as it’s outside.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way.  I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day.  I have a family to come home to, meals to cook, food to shop for, errands to run and a house to maintain.  Grown up life keeps bringing me back from Neverland. 
I wish I could stay in Neverland.
If I lived in Neverland, I would never need to exercise because I’d always be in motion.  I wouldn’t have to clean the house because I wouldn’t have a house—I’d have a tree-fort.  The dogs would run along with me all day, so they wouldn’t need walking.  I’d hunt for my food, so I wouldn’t need to go shopping.  Ah, only in Neverland.....

Sunrise on Lake Ontario

But maybe with the warm weather and the sunshine calling my name, maybe I can steal a little bit of that fantasy.  I can make time every day for play.  I can let the house get a little bit more messy, I can let the food storage run a little bit low, let other people fend for themselves a little bit more.  I can run, on the days that I FEEL like running, as if I am being chased by wild dogs (or zombies, whatever the fantasy may be—I personally think that Neverland and Post-Apocalyptic America are one and the same, and we are always one heartbeat away from the zombies taking over the world).  I will make time to improve my tennis game, and my soccer game.  As long as it’s a GAME and therefore FUN and not an exercise.  I will find the time to cycle a 30 km tour of my town and head to the waterfront, ride along the beach.  I will make time for LIFE this year.  I will.  I will spend more time in Neverland.  We should all spend more time in Neverland.
I hope to see you there, too.

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