“Exhaustion Is Not a Status Symbol”

A popular article came out recently, which described the epidemic (no, not Ebola) that seems to plague much of the fitness industry these days…the “militarization of fitness.”

You can read the full article here.  While it’s not the most well-written piece and there’s a definite “touchy-feely” vibe to it that I couldn’t get behind, one line really stood out to me.

Exhaustion is not a status symbol.

This hit home hard.  The idea of chronic exhaustion and constant busyness is something in which many of us take pride.  I sure did, for longer than I can remember.  But it should not be.  Exhaustion is not bad, but it should not be your goal.  If your goal is to be truly healthy for the long run (not just to look sexy), then your fitness habits need to be something that you can continue for the long haul.

That means learning to be flexible in your training, and adapt as necessary.

That means doing workouts that challenge you, bring you joy, and make you feel alive.

And that means not letting your workouts define your life.

EDITED dragonfly - arm balance and yoga workout

Running yourself ragged day in and day out for the purpose of being “hardcore” is stupid.  The article I referenced called it the “militarization of fitness.”  I think there is so much to be gained from a military mindset – discipline, structure, respect, sacrifice, putting a greater good above yourself – but that is lost when people misguidedly take a “drill sergeant approach” to their workouts.  Your workouts should not feel like bootcamp, because you are not in bootcamp.  (If you are, how the hell are you reading this right now?)  Our military trains at the intensity that they do, particularly in Special Forces units, because it is their life. Their physical fitness determines their ability to carry out their job and keep themselves and their brothers in arms alive.

On the other hand, civilians are not typically in those kinds of situations (unless they are law enforcement, first responder, etc.).  Physical fitness, for a civilian, is not a life or death issue.  Therefore, fitness need not be approached with a life or death attitude. As civilians, we have the luxury of training on our own terms…And we have that luxury because we live in the greatest nation on earth, and have millions of high-caliber men and women fighting to protect that and all our other freedoms.

At the end of the day, we should be grateful that we can train however we want.  Everyone should strive to be fit and healthy, but everyone should strive for that in the way that works best for their individual health context, with their unique lifestyle and preferences.   Your diet and training should be rewarding, not punishing.  Training is something that most of us are blessed to be able to do, not something we have to grind through.

So challenge yourself.  Work hard.  (In life and in training.)  Play and move and stretch and stay active in whatever way cranks your tractor.  But know why you are doing it, and make sure that what you’re doing doesn’t suck the joy our of your life, but adds life to your days.

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7 thoughts on ““Exhaustion Is Not a Status Symbol”

  1. I agree 100%! These days I feel permanently exhausted, but training is the one thing I really look forward to. That said, if I’m really not in the mood I don’t force myself to do it, but I know I generally feel better after smashing some heavy ish around.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I talk about all these insane fitness crazes all the time. It makes no sense to push your body to such extreme limits – it may work in the short run but it’s not wise for the long run (not sustainable.) I think extreme workouts really breakdown the body and wonder what will happen to those individuals when they turn 40/50/60? Hip replacements? Knee replacements? Extremes = not sustainable!

    1. Indeed! High intensity all the time is neither sustainable nor productive…it’s when we are at REST that the body can repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

  3. SO well said–And once again, just catching up on your recent posts and thinking “This girl is full of such great truth!!” Finally subscribed to your site so I won’t keep missing things! 😉
    (And thanks for commenting at my site which obviously reminded to get over here!) You rock!

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