Exercise and (not in) hypocrisy.

I am not an athletic person.  I am more of an accident person.  I am that person who broke their finger playing basketball and who still frantically grabs for the boards when skating.  When I was in grade one, I was in special education for my physical development.  Three days a week, I got to go have a special class where I would practice skills like throwing and catching balls, hopping one foot and going up and down stairs.  I struggled with those sorts of milestones.  Part of it may be because I was an only child and had nobody to play catch with or run around with.  But, realistically, my parents did that and I did have friends in my neighborhood.  The main issue was that I was slow at picking those things up.  I caught up.

Two years ago, I decided to join a gym.  I enjoy walking and hiking and swimming, but in this area, the weather is less than ideal 75% of the time (fog, snow and blinding wind).  I swam all through school, but the pools here are limited and memberships more expensive.  Plus swimming involves significant prep work.  A big bonus was that I had won a free week-long trial at said gym.

I go to the gym for spurts of time, and then miss a bunch of time due to sickness or busyness or laziness.  I enjoy it when I go.  It feels good, I feel good afterwards.

I find the gym interesting.  It is kind of a small habitat.  There are different life forms.  People like me who trip on the treadmill and stagger around at the back of the Zumba class.  There are people who are there every day and have a routine, who run with ease and know all of the moves in class who grunt disturbingly loudly while lifting weights (as if to say, “look at me”).  The spectrum of work out clothing… From almost nothing to the baggiest things one owns. Older people, younger people.  Bigger people, smaller people.  It is much like the outside world, except in there everyone has a common goal, to exercise.  Everyone just does it in her own unique way and with her own individual goals.

It is also a counterintuitive, even at times hypocritical, place.  There are tanning beds at the gym.  Tanning beds expose you to UV light.   UV light exposes you to risks of DNA mutations that later lead to skin cancers.  Ummm… Why is that in a place that you go to get healthy?  Apparently, tanned people look more beautiful and healthy.  Until they get skin cancer.  That one boggles my mind.  I also have found it funny that the pictures of the people advertising for the gym always show smiling people who are not sweating.  I have noted people who actually look like that are few and far between.  They also have a very large stack of magazines that promote the latest crash diet trends… I am pretty sure those are not healthy.  Why are they in a place that supposedly promotes healthy lifestyle?

This week was my first week back after a month off (home for three weeks and then my asthma flare last week).  It feels good to be back at it.  My lungs disagree a bit, but that is what salbutamol is for.  I am quite surprised at the lack of people at the gym.  It is only the second week in January and there seems to be no change in the volume of people.  It is like people forgot about their resolutions or what have you already.  Goodness, that is early.  Maybe it was just the times I have been there.  Who knows?

I am a ridiculously distracted person.  I quite like multi-tasking, so one of my favorite things to do (aside from listen to music, which is a must) while working out is to read.  I can’t watch the time or miles tick away while I jog on the elliptical (I can’t do treadmills, I trip).  It makes the time drag by and I usually get too winded before my time.  So, I have taken up reading.  The problem with doing this is that most books don’t stay open whilst jiggling on the console of the elliptical.  So, it has been mostly magazines.  I read a journal from the Christian Medical Dental Society that comes every three-ish months, so that is one session’s reading.  The rest generally comes from the stash in the gym.  I don’t like it.  Those magazines are full of Bradgelina stories, which I skip, not to mention the terrible health/dieting advice sections and such.  I probably read maybe a third of the content, so it takes three or four to get me through a decent jog.  I was frustrated by this, until I had an epiphany this morning… Why don’t I read my medical journals (nerdy snort)?  I am behind on reading and this would be a great allotted time to do it in.  So, I did that today, I found an old Canadian Medical Association Journal and read all about opioid related deaths, secondary prevention of heart attacks and management of asthma in adults (ironically while I took my puffers… asthma flare isn’t completely resolved).  It was the perfect distraction and also proved to be a good education tool.  Sweet!

New problem… Most journals, including all of the others I subscribe to (note, all of the free-ish ones) are now available online.  And because of the paperless movement, it often now costs extra to get them mailed to you.  I think this move is reasonable and is important in protecting our environment and saving on costs.  The problem arises in that it is difficult for me to obtain further reading material once my current journal heap is through.  I suppose I will have to dish out the funds to get a couple in paper, or borrow some from the library (which is also trying to go paperless).

I am trying to be more committed to the gym thing.  First of all, it feels good and it is good for me.  Second of all, I am in training to be a physician and I tell patients how important physical activity is for our health, both mental and physical.  I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  At least not any more of a hypocrite than I already am… I mean, McDonald’s is one of my favorite comfort foods and I am renowned for not always taking my asthma meds as prescribed when things are going well…  I suppose the fact that I am aware of my hypocrisy makes me a better physician.  I can see where people are coming from.  But, I still need to work to improve on it myself, for the sake of my own health.

People are hypocrites.  All of us.  Not just the “religious” or “medical” or “legal” folks.  We all have something we say, “Do as I say and not as I do” about.  We all judge others about one thing while we do something else.  Sometimes we point fingers at a certain group while we miss the stains in our own lives.  I hope that in the future, physicians, faith groups and other people can see their own flaws and work on those before preaching perfection at others.  It is one thing to correct and encourage in a loving way when you are working to improve on yourself and your issues.  It is a whole other thing to preach and then go do your own thing.

I will keep running (ellipticalling?).  I will trip along the way.  But my efforts help me to understand where others come from and will help me to encourage them.  The same goes for my faith walk, my career and my relationships.

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2 thoughts on “Exercise and (not in) hypocrisy.

  1. Some of my friends, and probably me before 3rd year starts have iPads. Those are great for getting journals on and are extremely useful in the hospital/clinic. They are pretty light too so it wouldn’t be that hard to hold while working out!

    • Great idea! If only I had an iPad. Or the funds to purchase one. I might try to do it with my iPod, though it will be a small read. Thanks for the suggestion!

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