I’ve been hangin’ out in San Diego for the past week.
I was there primarily for a social media conference, but I took the opportunity to stay for the weekend and experience the delicious warm California weather (‘cos it’s still numbingly cold in New York!)
After being confined to the magnificent but somewhat oppressive innards of the Manchester Grand Hyatt for two days solid, I was itching to get outside and explore the many jogging (that’s with a silent ‘j’) routes post-conference.
On one of my runs, I found myself at the San Diego convention centre, a huge building right next the water. To access the bay, you had to climb an incredibly steep flight of stairs.
Ah hah! I thought. Stair sprints!
I did a couple of rounds and was catching my breath on a descent when a young girl (about 6 years old, with her front teeth missing) asked me: “Why are you doing that?”
Before I had a chance to reply, her mum said “Because she wants to stay skinny.”
I was a bit taken aback. Firstly: I’m perfectly capable of answering for myself, and secondly: ‘staying skinny’ had not entered my head at all! What an odd thing to say!
I told the girl: “Well, I’ve been sitting around all day, so I need to run around to feel good! How about you try it with me? Want to have a race?”
She gave me a big toothless grin and nodded. “Ok” I said. “Ready, set…go!” She squealed, and tore up the stairs. I could barely catch her. (Ok, so I may have given her a head start…but she sure was fast!) At the top, I gave her a high five and then we did some jumping jacks and high kicks.
She was so excited, we went down and raced back up the stairs again. Too cute.
Her mother’s comment, though, stuck with me. It was a sad reminder of how our reasons for doing things can often shift from ‘having fun’ and ‘feeling good’ to ‘looking good’ and ‘because I should’.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I like to exercise to stay in shape. But to me, that’s just a side benefit, it’s not the main reason.
Why do you think that little girl wanted to race me up the stairs over and over? Was it out of the desire to be skinny? Hell no! Kids only do stuff that’s FUN. “Let’s run up the stairs so we can be skinny!” does NOT sound like fun. But racing up the stairs to see who’s king of the mountain? Much more appealing.
So think about WHY you exercise.
If it’s because you only want to look good, or because you feel you ‘should’ be doing it, chances are it will become a ‘chore’ and you’ll find it difficult to sustain.
I say don’t be afraid to listen to your inner child and embrace fun! Try something new and find something that you love that makes you feel good. Right now, I’ve found it in running, CrossFit and dancing. You may prefer ball sports, rollerblading or hula hooping.
Whatever it is, find your ‘thing’, and you’ll be much happier, motivated – and hey, maybe even skinnier – for it.
You stay classy!
UPDATE!! I was at CrossFit NYC and did a kickass press session with Jenn who was wearing this awesome shirt. I just had to add it here!