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Do you view exercise as penance or justification?

So I am at the gym last night (yes, Halloween night). I always like to start with some cardio. I am huffing and puffing on the rowing erg. I see the calorie burn counter click over 300. I thought, good worked off that bag of Doritos. So I wondered for those of you who workout regularly, do you think of the time spent sweating as offsetting the bag of chips or cookies from the afternoon snack or does it instead mean that you're having double dessert tonight? I guess I look at it as penance for my eating sins.

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  1. Neither!
    I exercise regularly simply to stay fit! I do a lot of running around and lifting - Grandchildren and plants :-) - I really don't like to run out of steam and daily exercise helps!

    1. 80% to clear my head; mental exercise
      20% to stay fit

      3 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        This, but 50%/50%. Cardio exercise changes (improves) my overall body chemistry, so I do it for that. But I do it also so that I don't have to worry much about what I eat.

        1. re: HillJ

          "80% to clear my head; mental exercise
          20% to stay fit"

          For me the numbers are switched, but I just started back in the gym recently.

          1. re: PotatoHouse

            Frosty & PotatoH, what matters is finding what works best for yourself. There's no magic formula or one size fits all but I agree w/you both that the mental workout is as important as the physical one.

        2. Neither. I view exercise and food as completely separate things. I work out to feel better and stronger; if I was working out to maintain a weight (or lose weight), it would probably be different.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hobbert

            You said this better than me, so thanks. They aren't really connected for me so directly.

          2. I spend 1 to1 and one-half hours at the gym almost every day. I'm 72 years old, 5' 11" tall and weigh 290 lb. My grandson asks why am I still so fat if I exercise so much. I tell him to imagine what I would look like if I didn't exercise. Although it doesn't help with my weight, the exercise does help keep my cholesterol, blood pressure, sugar levels, etc in check and in line with a much younger, trimmer man.

            1. How about doing it simply for the joy of feeling your body and your mind. Penance is what I do when I step on an old lady's foot.

              1. If I viewed exercise as either penance or justification, I would never do it. I do best with exercise when I view it as learning a useful or cool skill, like running, fighting, being able to walk long distances, etc. Grinding out a routine for the sake of burning calories has zero appeal to me.

                1. I'm much more of a combination of the views so far -

                  I do exercise to clear my head and just to feel good. That is what motivates me to exercise on a regular basis.

                  That said, I definitely push a little harder or go a little longer (mainly cardio) as penance if I've eaten too much or had a few too many cocktails earlier in the week. I've never done that in "anticipation" of a meal to come.

                  1. I view it as fun and a way to stay in shape. Also, a way to get around. My main exercise is biking and my commute to work is by bike and Metro (except on very cold and wet days - then I drive to Metro.)

                    1. I do it for stress relief and to keep reasonably healthy.

                      1. I too exercise for health, and NOT to offset what I eat. I am however careful where I spend my calories. :)

                        1. I love exercising because it makes me feel good. That's the same reason why I love eating.

                          1. I usually workout outside and not in a gym, but when I do (because of the weather) I never look at the calorie burn counter. I do look at time/distance/heart rate every 1/2 hour or so just to make sure I'm working hard enough - but most of my focus is on clearing my mind and enjoying my music.

                            1. Ok. I principally exercise for mental and physical health benefits like everyone else. If I miss a few days, I feel it and I know I have to get a workout in. But I'm just asking that if you did over indulge already or plan on indulging a bit, does that affect how you work out? I know that like thimes, if I went out the night before and had too much to eat/drink, I will push myself that much more at my next workout. That doesn't enter your mind at all? Back in college, my coach used to say the best thing for a hangover was a vigorous two hour work out. Felt awful at the start, but by the end, the hangover was gone.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bkeats

                                If I overeat (like holidays ,etc), I usually fast the next day to empty out my stomach (if I overate - that means I had enough for two days anyway). I don't change my workout routine - although it would probably help if I did

                              2. I keep active, but I don't exercise per se, like "Oh, I gotta exercise." I walk the dog, I play golf, I garden. In the winter I shovel snow....all are part of what I do and who I am anyway.

                                No room in my life for food guilt. To paraphrase someone, I feel guilt for the words that come out of my mouth sometimes, not the food that goes in.

                                1. I totally get the question, and, like you, MOSTLY do it to keep fit and all that.

                                  But to be perfectly honest, I ALSO do it to justify eating stuff later. So, to answer the question, I do it in advance so I can indulge later - squeeze in an extra workout during the week and feel better about eating out at the weekend.

                                  1. For fun. There are far too many fun activities you can do to move w/out working out for penance or justification.

                                    1. Neither:
                                      It keeps up my muscles and the ability to lift huge stock pots or pull large heavy trays from the bottom ovens.

                                      1. To answer the original question, I am 44 years old and because of my love for food I am around 60 lbs overweight (not counting the 30 lbs I have already lost) and Type 2 diabetic. I work out to help me regain the physical fitness that I allowed to slip away during a 20 year career as an over the road truck driver who ate his way across the country.

                                        1. I just enjoy it. I like to ride (bicycle) and it's just a ton of fun. I don't really think of it in relation to the food I'm consuming. It's a feel-good thing to do.

                                          1. So how long does it take y'all to get to the point where it's fun and something you look forward to - or at least don't look for excuses to NOT exercise. Hate it so much, find it so boring, don't WANT to feel that way.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: lemons

                                              Figure out what you hate the least, and make things as painless for yourself as possible. The only thing I like to do, exercise-wise, is practice yoga. And the only way I will exercise at all - yoga included - is if I can do it first thing in morning and without leaving the house. So, podcasts. Started with 20:00 ones, which are hard to talk myself out of, because 20:00? and I just have to unroll a mat? just do it, for crying out loud. I'm up to 60:00 now, sometimes 90:00, and I actually look forward to it almost as much as I look forward to breakfast. Almost.

                                              1. re: lemons

                                                Find something you *can* enjoy. It's obviously all about your mindset, but doing something you really, really hate won't ever be something you'll do regularly.

                                                I tried running for half a year with the couch to 5K programs that are available anywhere these days, and was surprised at how well they worked. That said, I found (and still find) running insanely boring - not to mention the pathetic amount of calories burned per half hour or even hour, so I eventually gave up on it.

                                                I now do kickboxing 3 times a week. Serious cardio workout, great for upper and lower body strength….. AND I get to punch and kick the shit out of that bag for 50 minutes. Highly therapeutical.

                                                Of course, the best part of any workout is the stretching & shower afterwards :-)

                                                1. re: lemons

                                                  Of course so much will depend an individual's personality, how out of shape they are, etc, etc.

                                                  That said - once you commit to doing 1 hr of rigorous exercise 3x/wk (rigorous will depend on each person, but you should be tired at the end of it) - I say it will take 4 months.

                                                  Month 1 is just miserable. Your body hurts, joints ache, and you're looking for any excuse to not do your workout. You're probably starting to come up with excuses at around 10am for a 6pm workout - my stomach hurts, my knee hurts too much, my muscles are too tired, my trainer is a jerk, the gym smells, etc, etc, etc.

                                                  Month 2 is tough and your still looking for excuses but you have more confidence you can get through a workout. But driving to the gym (or where ever you're working out) you still are thinking of reasons to turn around.

                                                  Month 3 starts getting a little better. You might even start to feel good during some of the workouts but you still are tired the next day and feel like you need more rest.

                                                  Month 4 you kind of start missing the workouts if you don't do them. You feel good during the workouts even though they are tough and you kind of feel proud of yourself after you finish a hard workout and you might consider adding another day for 4x/wk.

                                                  I agree that finding something you enjoy doing will help a lot, but I really believe you won't know if you really like it until after 4 months because you're working through just doing exercise regularly.

                                                  Just commit to doing whatever you're doing and do it regularly - even when you don't want to do it - and remember that 90% of those aches and pains can be exercised through and don't really qualify as an excuse NOT to go to the gym. Keep going!

                                                  1. re: lemons

                                                    It's hard to say. I've always enjoyed working out and not even anything formal I just like moving in general. If you're moving, I'm the first to volunteer to help or if you need furniture assembled, I'm first in line. Exercise just sort of fits into that plus I really enjoy weighlifting which is my primary form of exercise. If I don't exercise I just feel off. It's my morning routine and even on the days when I want to sleep in which aren't rare, I know that afterwards I always get this feeling that I just feel like me and my day is set and ready to go. I don't think all can feel that way and you shouldn't force yourself to. You can also explore activities to find something you might like. Not everyone enjoys the gym. I have a lot of friends who dread it but have found other forms of exercise like hot yoga or the new barre ballet dance workout which are super challenging but still fun and interesting or many of my friends love sports social clubs but would never set foot in a gym. It's like dieting, if it doesn't work for you you won't stick to it.

                                                    1. re: lemons

                                                      Some exercise is boring. There's a reason people call it the dreadmill.But, there's fun movement that counts as exercises but isn't tedious in a gym. Find what you enjoy. And, then maybe to do that better, you might want to work out but it's for a purpose other than being something you should do.

                                                      1. re: lemons

                                                        Just try different things, even things you don't think you'll enjoy, to find out what you like. I found out i enjoy yoga and running sprints that way and I never would have expected to enjoy those activities. I also keep a stocked gym bag in my car at all times so if I wind up near my gym unexpectedly, it's easy to go. Another thing I do is keep records- speed, distance, number of reps, weight, whatever you're going after. It's pretty cool to look back and say "3 months ago, I could only run a 12 minute mile and now I'm down to a 10 minute mile". Even if you go to the gym and work out for just 20 minutes or walk a mile on the treadmill, it's something and you should be proud of that. Good luck!

                                                        1. re: lemons

                                                          It also really helps if you can find something to do that ameliorates the boredom. I can't run due to knee issues, but I walk usually around 15 miles per week. Audiobooks changed my life in this area. I also do the recumbent bike 3-5 times a week, and I can read or watch TV/Netflix while I do that. I can't say I look forward to it but I'm much more likely to either schedule it in or say "huh, I'm not doing anything right now, maybe a walk" if I have something I'm really interested in to do while I'm out.

                                                          Regarding the original question, I'm another neither. Exercise makes me feel better and stronger. It's totally separate from food. If anything, I eat healthier when I exercise.

                                                          1. As they say, losing weight is for looking good in clothes, exercise is for looking good naked. I prefer to get my exercise by doing things and leading an active life. I will NOT waste my life at a gym but I do have a treadmill at home because I enjoy walking (I don't run, I don't enjoy it.)

                                                            I don't eat anything I feel bad about and don't feel bad about anything I eat so exercise isn't tied to eating for me.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                              Great point, I really wish food didn't have to always be labeled good or bad and ourselves labeled as such when eating them. I hate to hear "oh I was so bad today, I ate..." No, you weren't bad, you ate Cheetos, moving on...

                                                              1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                "I don't eat anything I feel bad about and don't feel bad about anything I eat so exercise isn't tied to eating for me."

                                                                I wish I had this attitude. I almost never (anymore) feel bad about what I eat, but exercise and food are always related. :-/ Unfortunately I don't believe there is a way to fix this after so many years of calorie-centered thinking.

                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                  Yup. Agreed. Standing in front of a mirror naked should tell you if you need to exercise more or if you should eat those cheeto's. It's not about vanity, it's about eyesight :) if you see visible fat in the mirror, there is visceral fat near your organs. Yikes. Not good.

                                                                  My personal motto for eating is that I know I can't eat all of the food, all of the time....but I can eat all of the food some of the time. The mirror is very self correcting for me.

                                                                  I also prefer exercising by leading an active lifestyle rather than going to a gym daily, but whatever works.

                                                                2. I work out quite religiously but it's never a reason for me to eat more than I otherwise would. I guess I have a pretty structured eating plan not that it's limited but I know what I plan to eat a few days ahead of time or at least how much I will eat. I love working out and for some reason I've never utilized that to eat extra treats. However, I am a protein fanatic so I'll justify perhaps extra chicken or eggs in the name of protein synthesis.

                                                                  1. I exercise for emotional and mental health and it DOES help with muscle stuff.