A local community program here is promoting 10,000 steps a day. Unfortunately, they chose to make it about weight loss, including required weigh-ins. What I find sad is that I believe this will end up discouraging activity. If exercise doesn’t “work” for a participant -- that is, doesn’t result in weight loss -- I fear they may decide it’s not worth it.
Imagine you take a volunteer job that inspires your passions and uses your talents. You work with wonderful people, making a real difference in the world. Now imagine you took this job believing it was a paid position, only to find out later that was not the case. I’m certain an entirely different reaction. When people expect to, but don’t get “paid” for exercising -- when they don’t lose weight -- they may lose sight of all the other great things about it.
The last two months, I’ve been training toward what will hopefully be my first century ride in August. It’s been on my bucket list since I was 10 and my brother did one. It would be a stretch to call myself a serious cyclist, but I have definitely putting in some miles for me.
I see progress in so many ways other than the scale. Sunday, I found myself telling my husband that I went on an easy 21-miler, only to stop and wonder when I started using “easy” and “21-miler” in the same sentence.
I see progress on the hills which I once struggled up and now ride up smoothly. I see it on the hills where I used to have to stop halfway for water and oxygen, and now I struggle up them. I see my cadence becoming faster, my resting heart rate becoming slower. My average weekly mileage increasing. I can run bigger gears with less effort. I’ve got a new personal landspeed record of 38.7 MPH. I’m more comfortable on the bike.
What I do not see, nor did I expect, is any significant weight loss. That’s OK. That’s not why I’m doing this.
If I had gone into this with weight loss as my goal, I would have given up by now. I’d step on the scale and believe that I’d failed. There would have been no reason to crawl up hills in my lowest gear in 90 degree weather repeating in my head, “This hill will not defeat me.” I’d turn around when the 20 MPH headwind kicked up. I wouldn’t go to the YMCA and run on the treadmill on the days thunderstorms threatened and I couldn’t ride. What would be the point?
If weight loss were my goal, I would have quit by now. I wouldn’t have been getting “paid” for this. But it isn’t my goal, and I am being rewarded for my efforts in many ways.
I believe my body will do what I ask of it if I take care of it. I know I am capable of doing this. I want to be stronger. That is all the payment I need.