http://diet. ivillage. com/issues
Can you make time for something you don't like?
by Catherine Censor
If they ever have a telethon for type A personalities, my sister Rachel
would be the poster child. An investment banker, she flies to dozens of
meetings a week. She eats what she can scrounge from vending machines, her
shoulders are hunched forward as if bent over an imaginary desk and her skin
looks like it hasn't seen outdoor light in about a decade.
When she's not worrying about her two young kids, the mortgage on her
apartment or the future of her embattled firm, she worries that she ought to
be doing something to reduce her stress, correct her posture and strengthen
her body. That something, she fears, is yoga.
"The breathing, the relaxation, the excruciating poses," she sighs. "I know
it's exactly what I need." There's just one problem. She hates yoga.
"It makes me want to crawl out of my skin," she complains. "My mind races
when I'm supposed to be relaxing, and I get anxious thinking about all the
time I'm wasting holding downward dog. But if I hate it, does that mean I
really need it?"
This is a question I've heard before. We all have something we dread doing.
Sometimes, it's a whole category of thing (anything competitive, anything
cardiovascular, anything "mind-body," etc.). Sometimes, it's a specific
exercise (push-ups, lunges or those horrible squat-thrusts they made you do
in gym class). I get asked repeatedly, "If I hate it, does that mean I
really need to be doing it?"
The answer, I've decided, is yes... maybe. Obviously, my sister needs to
learn to value time spent nourishing her body and spirit. And clearly, yoga
would be an ideal way to accomplish her goals. But yoga is hardly the only
solution to her problems. She could, for example, assemble a program of
strength training and cardio that would do the same thing. She could try
Pilates or dance or mountain climbing. There's always another way.
The important question to ask here is, "Is there something to be gained by
pushing through the hate?" While there are always alternatives, sometimes
there's no substitute for sucking it up and doing it anyway. Ask yourself
what it is that you truly hate about it. Chances are, what you hate is not
the activity or exercise, but the potential for failure. When you just don't
want to do something, it may well be because you fear, deep down, that you
aren't very good at it. Being human, we go through life protecting our
weaknesses. We favor our good hand when we write, we show off our "best
features" in clothes, and further our knowledge in subjects we've already
mastered. Little wonder, then, that when it comes to physical activity, we
embrace what we know we can do and shy away from anything that might expose
an ugly fissure of weakness.
Of course, hiding weakness is not the same thing as eliminating it. So
avoiding an encounter with your awkward, fumbling, struggling self is
ultimately futile. You'll stay comfortable, but you'll stay stuck. It's far
better to expose your weakness and get stronger. Do the lunges. The worst
that can happen is that your legs will be sore the next day. Take the tennis
clinic. You'll swing and miss a lot, but if you keep trying, you'll improve.
And Rachel, get your butt to a yoga studio. When you get really good, you
can shame me into stretching.