All or Nothing Fitness

Posted: June 25, 2014 in Problems
Tags: , ,

Hanging around a fitness website I’ve noticed among some people this sort of all or nothing mentality to fitness. And by that I mean, there is this idea that either people be completely dedicated to being completely ripped or you are wasting your time and don’t really belong.

Of course I suspect that most people actually fall somewhere in the middle of that- people like working out and/or do it for health benefits, but don’t really want it to be a focal point of their life. And that’s where I fall. I love working out! But it’s not the focal point of my life, my life does not revolve around working out. And, personally, I think that’s ok!

I’ve heard it said sometimes that “it’s a matter of priorities”- typically meant to mean that you need to make working out a priority. But I think “yeah, it is a matter of priorities”, and at the end of the day working out is not my top priority. My first priority is my education right now. Getting through my PhD program successfully- which means not just passively moving through it going to classes. Actually that’s the biggest difference I would say about a PhD compared to other degree levels, the actual “school” part of school is minor. I’ve been told this by faculty many times, classes aren’t that important it’s what you do outside classes that matters. Which is hard when classes take up a large portion of your time while you are in them (though only the first part involves taking classes) , and you are expected to get straight As in those courses because anything less is not ok at the PhD level. But outside of classes and qualifying exams, there is also the research. You better be working on research. You should be reading, talking to faculty, getting on their research, going to conferences, presenting at conferences and writing journal articles. It takes time and dedication. And right now that is my top priority. I mean, there is work-life balance. So I try to juggle those obligations with obligations to my health, and working out, and working, and fun (a mental health obligation), along with all the other parts of life like still working on getting unpacked at my house, and painting and cleaning and so on.  But working out gets balanced around my school demands, not the other way around.

It’s unrealistic to expect that working out be everyone’s top priority- that’s not life for most people.

Another thing I saw recently was someone mentioning that if you are not taking training seriously, then it’s just a pastime and so, basically, why bother at that point? Which just makes me go o.0 This may make sense if working out isn’t just a pastime for you, such as you are a competitive powerlifter or something. I’m not. Training is just a pastime for me. It’s a hobby. Why bother to do it if it’s just a pastime? Because I enjoy it. Because there are plenty of health benefits to working out. What more reason than those do I need?

And this is my problem with all or nothing- it’s missing a lot of people. And then the message become,s ‘don’t bother working out’. Which isn’t true. You can workout and see health benefits from it without needing it to be your top priority. If life gets in the way sometimes, that’s ok, take break and come back. It’s better if you can avoid taking a break, but sometimes life does get in the way of things. It does not have to be all or nothing. There is no reason to give up entirely because something happened and you missed a few workouts. Even if it sets you back and you can’t run as far or fast, or lift as much or do as much at whatever you were doing, coming back is worth it!

And if you can only fit in working out sporadically, a little at a time, around your life- it’s still worth it! You do not have to be at the gym an hour a day, everyday, without fail in order to workout. There is middle ground for shorter, less frequent, even sporadic, workouts.

Will you get the same results as long, harder, or more consistent workouts? No. But as long as your expectations are reasonable, what’s the problem?

I really don’t get why certain people seem very bothered by the fact that other people might like working out, without it being as important in their lives- and then react to that feeling by seeking to make those people feel unwelcome in fitness based spaces. And should you feel unwelcome, and by into this belief that if you aren’t going super hardcore at your workouts, it’s not worth doing at all, the same people will still mock you for being such an inferior human being for not working out.

Working out has tons of great impacts on health. There is really no denying this. So why should anyone seek to push others away from a great healthy activity just because they are doing it in a way that fits their life and their needs instead of yours?


I’ve also noticed a trend though, that people who do make working out their top priority end up going to work in jobs related to it. Which is fine, nothing wrong with that. And it makes sense! Because if part of your job is working out, or at the very least at the gym were you can fit in workouts in you breaks and such, then it is easier to workout daily and keep that as a top priority for you. But obviously not everyone can lead group fitness classes or be a personal trainer- you would have no costumers if everyone was, not to mention not having people doing all the other jobs we rely on as a society. So among the rest of us, fitness will be a pastime,  a hobby, and not the #1 priority in our lives for many of us. And that’s ok. And it doesn’t mean we should just quit working out, or that we don’t belong in the gym, or participating in fitness websites, or anything of that nature.

  1. […] I actually meant to include this in my post All or Nothing Fitness and forgot, but that’s ok because this is a related, but slightly different issue. This post […]

  2. […] comes in many forms. I’ve mentioned before the issue of priorities. Not everyone’s priorities are the same. And that’s ok. According to the logic of this […]

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