I've reimagined my relationship with marketing. Next up is exercise
This morning I went to my first CrossFit class in about eight months. I didn't stop because of an injury or anything like that. Just found myself craving gentler and more embodied forms of movement last summer. That search led me to a martial art called aikido, which I'll write about at some point during this challenge. Anyhow, as tends to happen after your first CrossFit class in months, I got smoked this morning, and I'm already sore in muscle groups I'd forgotten existed lol.
Like most humans in the modern world, I have a rather tenuous relationship with exercise. It feels like something I should do. Like something I have to do if I ever want to look and feel good. And for me, it goes one layer deeper. As someone who's struggled with being overweight since I was a kid, my head is clogged with emotionally-charged stories about how I'll never feel good about myself, and never be fully worthy of love, until I'm lighter, skinnier, stronger. I've done a ton of work on unlearning those stories over the last two years, and I’ve made a lot of progress. But it's wild how tightly those stories cling to me, like a sweat-drenched t-shirt after a workout in the Arizona heat.
For the last month, as I've been on my publishing spree, I've been spending even more time than normal in front of a computer, which has me feeling increasingly sluggish, tired, and foggy. I can feel my body yearning to move more. That's the signal I'm getting. It's a craving for intensity and structure. My body knows how good I feel when I'm doing CrossFit regularly, and it's telling me to go back. But I know that this time, I've gotta do it on my own terms, and build a new relationship with it.
In the past, I've set explicit goals around exercise. Usually it's because I'm hellbent on losing weight, so I start tracking my workouts and weight and food and everything. Basically, I've tried to exercise as much control over those variables as possible, because I'm emotionally attached to a specific outcome. Not surprisingly, the goal-setting/discipline/control/attachment approach has never been particularly good for me. It creates a sense of rigidity, and a sense that if I don't hit the goal I'm a failure. It also tends to make my relationship to myself worse, and the worse that relationship is, the less likely I am to eat well and move often.
So for these next 57 days, my plan is to approach exercise in the same way I'm relating to marketing these days. I will commit to show up every day and move my body in a way that feels true and alive for me, even if it's imperfect, and then I will surrender the outcome. For me, that means CrossFit 3-4x a week, and yoga/mobility/restorative movement on other days. But beyond that, it means tuning into my body and sometimes easing off the intensity in the CrossFit classes. Some days, I may want to scale those workouts way down instead of trying to beat my PRs or whatever. What matters more than the intensity is honoring my body, and not being at war with it. I am not a machine, and my body is not some tool that I can wield through force and coercion. It’s gotta be a trusting two-way relationship.
Beyond that, I won't be weighing myself every day or every week, nor will I be using a Whoop or an Apple Watch or whatever. Just like I'm no longer interested in marketing analytics, I'm not interested in turning exercise and movement into some quantifiable science experiment. There's this old saying that what gets measured get managed. But the second half of that statement should be, what gets managed often turns into a rigid, self-inflicted prison which is increasingly devoid of life, beauty, and self-trust. I've walked that path so many times, and I have no interest in doing it again.
What I'm after isn't necessarily a new, lower number on the scale, although I'm sure that'll come from trusting the process. What I'm really after is a new relationship to exercise, and to myself and my body. A relationship that's not rooted in control and domination, as it has been in the past, but instead in trust, enjoyment, and mutual listening.
P.S. If you're interested in this stuff, y'all should check out my homie and his world. Over this last year, Sam has helped me so much in unfucking my relationship to fitness, so if you're in a similar boat, I can't recommend him highly enough.