Exercise is boring

 As an exercise junkie, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have the same passion.  The reality is that for many people, exercise is associated with pain and boredom.

How many times have you seen and heard the phrase “no pain no gain”? How about “Pain is weakness leaving the body”?  I saw a tag line on a friend’s e-mail that said “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow”.

Each one of these indicates torture to the non-exerciser.  If you’d rather avoid torture, here’s the best advice I can provide.

Do something that you enjoy.

That’s right, it’s that easy. Exercise doesn’t have to be limited to plodding endless miles on a treadmill (yuck!). Find something that makes you feel alive.  Something that gives you a goal to work toward and offers a sense of accomplishment. Something that you can immerse yourself in and make part of your life.

Here’s a list of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve done this year that I would consider exercise:

  • Paddled a kayak through the Dells of the Fox
  • Ran multiple 5k’s outdoors
  • Went geocaching with my kids
  • Rode my mountain bike in the Iceman Cometh Challenge with my family cheering at the finish line
  • Rode 100 miles (twice) on my road bike…before lunch
  • Paddled a canoe on the Du Page River in the middle of winter
  • Summitted 14,255′ Longs Peak with my daughters
  • Spent 8 hours adventure racing through the Michigan woods
  • Ran the Warrior Dash on Father’s Day with friends and family
  • Rowed 1.3 million meters on the Concept 2 rowing machine
  • Played golf with Sara
  • Set multiple personal records in the deadlift
  • Swam whitewater rapids (on purpose) to practice swiftwater rescue
  • Completed the TRX 40/40 Challenge
  • A couple of times, for a little variety, I even ran on the treadmill. 
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks

Aside from the actual exercise part of each of these activites, I experienced moments I’ll never forget. 

I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall.  I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching.  I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I listened to the laughter of children and the look of amazement as they accomplished goals they never imagined.  I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.     

Each one of these experiences helped me be a better person, a better father, added years to my life, put a smile on my face and the faces of others around me, and yes, each was a form of exercise. 

None of these required any special skills that anyone else couldn’t obtain.  Just a level of commitment and creativity that many aren’t willing to pursue.  I’m just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to live an ordinary life.

Each was exercise. None of them were boring or torturous. Every time I went to the fitness center I was there with a purpose in mind.  I knew that every squat was going to help me on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55 lb. backpack up a mountain. Every rep had a purpose.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think outside the box and find what you enjoy.  And do it, often!

Memories of Mexico

I have a few pictures on my Facebook page from a mountaineering trip I planned to Mexico a few years ago.  Recently someone asked me about the pictures and I realized that they were out there but there was no story behind them.  So, I thought I might give you a little background on the trip. 

Like I mentioned in a recent post, exercise is a means to an end and for me, it’s about creating lasting memories.  This one will be with me forever.  I had a great time.  I learned a lot about self-organizing a mountaineering trip in a foreign country.   I saw things I never expected and it really opened my eyes to a culture outside my own. 

It was a great experience and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again in the coming years.  Ultimately though, without fitness I would never have been able to consider a trip like this or any of the other crazy adventures I’ve had over the past few years. 

What’s fitness going to do for you?  Where will it take you?  Leave a comment below and let others know how fitness will change your life.

Read all about our trip to climb the Mexican Volcanoes right here.

What’s your motivation?

John and Rachael at Iceman 2004

This is going to be a really quick post. 

Today, it’s your turn.  I’d like to know what’s your motivation?  What’s your reason for working out?

For me, a workout is a means to an end and something that helps me toward a goal of creating a lasting memory.  I enjoy riding my bike and my workouts are geared toward improving my performance on the bike.   One of my favorite memories is the Iceman race in Northern Michigan.  I’ve ridden the race 17 times, but specifically the five times I’ve ridden the race with my daughters have created the greatest memories.

Leave a comment below right now about your motivation and what you’re doing to create those memories.

Help fight cancer through Relay for Life

A little over a year ago, a very good friend of our daughters was diagnosed with cancer. In a short 9 months, Brianna finished the race strong but ultimately lost her battle with the disease. As a father, watching a child’s life cut short was heartbreaking. It’s hard for me to even write about it.

I’ve formed a team for the Relay for Life in Bolingbrook to make a small contribution and maybe help one more child enjoy another birthday and I’m asking for your support.

In the 2 minutes it takes to make a donation to my American Cancer Society Relay For Life® team, you can help me and my team save lives – and improve the quality of life for people who have cancer.

The American Cancer Society invests much-needed funds raised through Relay For Life® to save lives from cancer. They’ll use your donation to:

• Help people stay well by educating them on ways prevent cancer or detect it early, when it’s most treatable.
• Help people get well with FREE hands-on support through every step of their cancer experience.
• Find cures by funding groundbreaking research that helps us understand cancer’s causes, determine how best to prevent it, and discover new ways to cure it.
• Fight back by working with lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and rally communities worldwide to join the fight.

Every donation really does make a difference. Please visit my personal Relay for Life page to make a secure, tax-deductible online donation.

If it’s easier to spread your donation over several months, you can do that by choosing a “sustaining gift” option. Thank you for joining me in this effort. I will keep you updated on my progress.

To learn more about Relay For Life®, please visit RelayForLife.org

Getting ready for Ventoux!

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to ride one of the most famous mountains in France, Mt. Ventoux. The Giant of Provence dominates the landscape in southeast France. It’s eerie top portion, referred to as the Moonscape, is nothing but white rocks. Nothing else. For riders in the Tour de France, it’s demoralizing because you can see the summit for the final 7km but you never seem to get there.

For me, it was anything but demoralizing. I felt incredible as I rode the 22km climb with an average incline of 7.7%, sometimes kicking up to over 11%. I rode the entire climb with a giant, stupid grin on my face because I could hardly believe I pedaling my bike up one of the most iconic climbs in cycling. It took 2:15 to get to the top. I spent almost an hour on the summit before making the ripping fast descent in 20 minutes to the town of Bedoin in the valley below. I trained hard leading up to the trip and it paid off.

The Ventoux will be used in this year’s Tour de France this Saturday, July 25. never before has a climb this large been featured this late, with the race’s final day coming on Sunday. With a massive climb like this on the penultimate day, there could be fireworks among the leaders.

Be sure to watch it on Versus