Does it feel good?
We’ve all heard the adage, “No Pain No Gain” and most of us women have also heard “Suffer for Beauty”. But should we really be suffering and in pain in order to live healthier lives?
My last post on here was a review of the app I’m currently using for most of my workouts. You can read it HERE if you missed it. As I wrote in that review, those workouts are H.A.R.D! And when I’m done, I’m sweaty and tired and I can feel that I really worked my muscles. But I’m not in PAIN. I’m not crippled for a few days, unable to walk down the stairs facing forward…all you Leg Day folks know what I’m talking about…I’m not spending an inordinate amount of time applying heat, ice, BioFreeze, or extra epsom salt soaks, just to get through my day and be able to sleep. I’ve definitely experienced all of that in the past. I’ve done workouts that have left me unable to easily get into my hip-height bed, stand up from (or sit down onto) a couch or toilet seat, and made me rethink the whole concept of what working out means. You probably have too.
It’s just science that in order to build muscle, we have to stress our muscle fibers a bit, and then during the recovery process they rebuild themselves stronger and better than before. That’s how we get stronger and increase our lean mass. But do we really need to hurt so much after a workout that it takes us days and days to fully recover? I don’t think so.
I have always felt that the best workout is the one you enjoy doing, and will do consistently. For me, that means short, intense full body workouts utilizing bodyweight exercises and cardio intervals, in addition to the occasional dance-based workout, regular walking and yoga. The walking calms my overactive monkey-mind, gets me out of the house (working from home can be very isolating), and doesn’t require any special equipment at all. I’ve even done it barefoot in my neighborhood when I couldn’t find my sneakers. My yoga practice helps to keep me flexible, both physically and mentally, also doesn’t require much equipment (I’ve been using the same mat, blocks, and strap for YEARS), and since I practice at home I can wear whatever I want—no worries about having a cute outfit, or whether my yoga pants are see-through in downward dog.
Does that mean I don’t ‘feel’ my workout afterwards? Not at all. Like I said, I definitely feel like I worked my muscles, and some of my yoga sessions have resulted in pleasantly sore muscles later on. But the key words there is ‘pleasantly sore’. That good kind of tired, slightly achey, you-know-you-did-something sore. Like after a really good, long hike with hills and maybe a little boulder scrambling. Your arms are a bit tired, your quads and calves are a little achey, and maybe even your shoulders and arms are little tired. But you can still hoist a pint, brush your hair, and sit and stand easily. And you can get up the next day and do it again--that's key!
What I’m not a fan of is people pushing themselves so hard that they then physically can’t recover in 24-48 hours. That’s setting yourself up for failure. When you punish your body like that, you just aren’t going to be able to stay consistent in your movement practice. You will need massive recovery time. You’ll probably injure yourself, and then need physical therapy and time away from working out. You might even permanently injure yourself resulting in lifelong pain and mobility issues. All because some old gym teacher, or a Beastmode poster, or a celebrity trainer, or a ‘FitSpo” IG account told you that if it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t good enough.
What we should be focusing on is developing daily movement habits that we enjoy and can continue to do no matter our ages, locations, economic status, or wardrobes. That is why I preach about walking, and yoga, and hiking, and bodyweight and isometric exercises. You’ve already got everything you need. You can do them anywhere, anytime, with or without anyone else. Got some extra cash and live near water? Great! Throw some paddle boarding or kayaking into the mix. Maybe take up swimming if you have access to a pool or live in a warmish place. Check out T'ai Chi or Salsa Dancing, or whatever else floats your boat. The point is pick something you like, can do without impediments, and can keep doing long-term.
So let’s drop that Pain equals Progress mantra, and instead ask ourselves “Does this make me feel good?” If you feel good, you’ll keep going back for more. And that my friends, is how you live a happier, healthier life…doing more of the good stuff.
What makes you feel good? You know I love Tabata, dancing, walking, and yoga. Tell me what your jam is in the comments!