When Running Becomes a Guilty Pleasure
Recent research has shown that 75% of people feel guilty about eating ‘bad food’. Apply this to doing little or no exercise and feeling guilty becomes a fairly frequent emotion. We don’t need to have done anything particularly wrong to feel guilty. But often the standards we set ourselves or the judgements others place on us can make us feel somehow that we’re failing:
Not spending enough time with family, our partner, our children, parents, or even letting friends down. Add to that ‘not working our hardest’, not looking our best or drinking too much can all make us feel guilty. Yet whilst it’s difficult to banish the guilt from our lives completely, there are ways of lessening the feeling, and running can be one of them!
So why not choose running as your number one guilt-free pleasure, rather than another thing to hate about yourself and dread? After all it’s free, it’s accessible, it gives you some space to think, it can be fun and it can get you great weight loss results if you stick with it.
Often I hear people moan about having no time for exercise, especially when juggling work/life and all that goes with it. I know how they feel believe me! But what is it that makes one person take some action to find time to exercise and change things, and another person carry on with their ‘guilty existence’ and do nothing differently?
The main issue with exercise-guilt is that the longer you leave it, the worse it tends to get. Putting on weight, feeling lethargic and picking up health problems as a result can lead us into a guilt-led feeling of self-loathing. We then become so used to feeling that way, that it becomes even harder to break the cycle and change our habits. And one thing’s for sure, if we’re unhappy, yet we do nothing to change our way of life, then nothing will change for the good as a result.
So, with autumn approaching, traditionally the start of new terms at School, new invigoration after a bit of mood-enhancing sunshine, it’s the perfect time to think of exercise as a cure for guilt rather than an addition to it.
Think of exercise as a positive time away from the issues that can cause stress. A time to do something for yourself, because let’s face it; nobody can run or do exercise for you! It could be an hour away from your desk, your workplace, the children or your computer, and it could be the difference between continuing to pile on the increasing pressure about what you haven’t done, yet focus instead on what you have!
There’s a reason why GP’s often prescribe exercise for those who’re feeling depressed: It’s surely got to be better than buying ever larger clothes, feeling isolated and or hating ourselves. Even knowing that it’s going to be slightly uncomfortable when we start, the sooner we address the problem, the more contained the problem is, and easier we can solve it.
I’ve helped many people start from scratch on the exercise front, and seen the difference as they’ve gradually changed shape, changed outlook and learnt to like themselves again. Remember nobody said we had to feel guilty to be perceived as good people. Burdening ourselves with guilt doesn’t make us better people, it just saps our energy in a negative way, energy that we could be channelling into some useful positive activity.
Running for example provides our mind and body with a boost emotionally and physically. If you do it long term at the right intensity you will burn calories, lose weight and feel and look better. Do it with other people and you’ll build new relationships, have different choices and find new ways of enjoying exercise without it having to feel like another chore. In time, once your outlook improves and you have a positive outlet for stress, you’ll be able to address other aspects of your life which may be causing concern.
It’s proven that even a small amount of exercise can provide us with clarity and strength to deal with situations. I have many clients who use exercise to cope with serious life issues. All of whom inform me that they don’t know how they’d cope, without the stress-release and external focus exercise provides them.
Of course certain wrongs can only be put right with professional help. And we all need to live with an element of guilt, but not going out running shouldn’t be at the top of your ‘guilt list’. Instead, decide to make a change and a plan for building exercise into your life. Why not use friends or Running Clubs to help. Believe me; the rest of your troubles will then start to become a lot easier to deal with.