In the hospital, when they tell you you have a hernia, GET ANGRY AT THE HERNIA.
Every January I do the same halfhearted flirtation with the idea of making this the year that I develop an exercise regimen, stick with it long enough to get hooked on fitness, and become roughly as attractive as the male lead in any given Nicholas Sparks movie. The flirtation ends when I remember that fitness is kind of clingy – it wants to see me every day, for a lot longer than I want to see it, and it doesn’t want to let me hang out with my old friends peanut butter and cheese anymore.
Everything I find off-putting about exercise is summed up by the “fitspiration” picture trend – viral image macros that feature blunt, tough love exercise advice superimposed over pictures of somebody’s abs. If Facebook is any indicator, these pictures are really helpful to people who have committed to getting into shape, but whenever I see one I just feel like I’m being rather aggressively shamed by an extremely beautiful person, and about the only thing I feel inspired to do is eat an entire tub of sour cream just to piss off the sexy girl in yoga pants calling me lazy.
I mean, look at some of these:
In your FACE, single parents!
We reward dolphins with food too! Are you saying you're better than dolphins?
Cheese curds. Crunchwrap Supreme. Philly cheesesteak. Reuben. Eggs Benedict on a waffle. Everything on the menu at Baja Fresh. FUCK YOU, LIAR.
I’m getting to the point in my life where I can see myself making the time to exercise on a somewhat regular basis, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the energy to dedicate every waking second to hating everything unrelated to exercise the way these images seem to want me to. The big confrontational block text in every fitspiration picture yells in my face that the only way to be truly healthy is to make health and fitness my lifestyle, but what I want to yell back at the guy with the bulletproof stomach is that my current lifestyle is working out pretty well for me.
I don’t want fitness to be a lifestyle; I want it to be a chore. That probably sounds like the wrong attitude, but let me be clear: I am fucking great at chores. I can empty the dishwasher in like five minutes. I take out the garbage like a champion. And if you step into my room, you won’t see any laundry lying around – because I folded that shit promptly after pulling it out of the drier, bitch!
I’m gung ho about chores, because I recognize that they’re unpleasant but necessary things you have to do to make life more livable. And the best part about chores is that once you do a chore you generally don’t have to think about it for at least another day or so.
That’s the role I want exercise to take in my life – a mindless, unpleasant task I can do every day to burn some calories and get the jump on my metabolism, which will no doubt grind to a halt in the next year or so. I’ve also got pretty realistic goals – I’m not so much interested in self improvement or physical perfection as I am in being able to have French fries be a part of my life on a semi-regular basis without getting fat.
I think fitspiration rubs me the wrong way because it’s designed to motivate you to want to change yourself, and I’m at a place in my life right now where I’ve lowered my standards enough that I’m satisfied with who I am and what I look like. I think that right now I’m in about as good of shape as I can ever realistically hope to be in, so I’m really only interested in exercise because I want to preserve this status quo for as long as humanly possible.
Now on the other hand, if fitspirational messages toned it down a bit they’d have a better shot at actually fitspiring me:
For the past two weeks I’ve been alternating between brisk bike rides and a 7 minute workout I read about in The New York Times that always leaves me lying on the floor of my room gasping for breath, too exhausted to be concerned about how filthy my carpet is. It’s not enough to turn me into Matthew McConaughey, but it is enough to make me feel generally good – and isn’t that what exercising is really all about?
Prevailing fitspirational wisdom seems to be that my body is a temple and exercise is about respecting it. All I know is that yesterday I drove past a Masonic Temple, and not only was it tens of thousands of square feet, it also had multiple people inside it and was being pressure washed by a group of Mexican custodians. The less like that my body is, the better, I say.
Truman Capps should do more updates where it's necessary to sift through lot of pictures of girls in yoga pants.