It’s been a few weeks since I read this piece by the excellent Scott Dinsmore, but ever since then, it’s been percolating in my head like a slow boil. Whether it’s because spring is on its way or because of the recent uproar in the media on the topic of women’s access to birth control, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that when it comes to recommendations for physical activity, almost everyone is doing it wrong. Almost, but not quite.

To begin, I want to express my profound admiration for Scott Dinsmore and the commitment he has made to enlightening people all around the globe about the possibility of leading a life filled with passion. He is a genuine individual who has chosen to live an unorthodox life and as a result, he has formed relationships with some incredible individuals. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, a source of motivation.

Everything that you read in this piece on how exercise is the key to having a great life is, without a doubt, accurate. His advice for making the transition to a more physically active lifestyle is spot on.

Except . . .

What If You Don’t Want To Be More Productive?

I am well aware that by even proposing this in this day and age of faster microprocessors, life hacks, and rapid fame that I am placing myself in the line of fire, yet here I am. I am looking for something more from exercise than just an improvement in my productivity. I want to be alone with myself again.

Since we were young, each one of us has been immersed in the world of performance, which has caused significant psychological and physical harm to all of us. We’ve all experienced the dread of feeling like we don’t measure up, whether it be in academics, athletics, physical appearance, or professional accomplishment. As adults, it’s there every day as we attempt to be excellent parents, partners, friends, coworkers, employers, bosses, children, and citizens. It’s also there when we try to learn something new. We can’t go anywhere without encountering the question, “How do I measure up to others?” Even if it isn’t spoken out loud, the dreadful feeling and the edge of humiliation are always so near.

Women are the ones who understand what I’m talking about. In particular, mothers. It is nonstop hurrying, rushing, pushing, and hustling from the moment our eyes open till the moment they shut at night. There is always more work to be done, and it must be done more quickly. Baby, our levels of productivity have reached all-time highs. It is my contention that we need an antidote rather than a more significant quantity of the underlying issue.

Where is our refuge from our mass of anxiety? Where can we find a gentle, safe place where we can summon our power without wondering about our worth?

We all need a space to call our own, outside of expectations and judgement. And I am bound and determined to reclaim exercise for that very purpose. It can serve us best when used as a haven rather than a tool.

I lost almost 20 pounds in last year, and that was extremely empowering. Back then, exercise was a means to an end for me, and I made it work for a while. I got past my fear of being slow and clutzy. I went from a non-athlete to exercise regularly. The formula worked. The readout on the scale hit the target. Champagne! Fireworks!

And then I really, truly didn’t know what to do with myself. Whaddya do after Mission Accomplished?

Since I have an oh-so easily distracted chipmunk brain, it would have been easy to look around for the next shiny thing to grab my attention. But I was hooked. Hooked on the power in my body.  Craving the natural buzz I got from being in motion. Loving the space I made when I could go, go . . .

In my running shoes or on my bike, I was away from the judging, fearful part of my brain. I found peace and relief within myself. It was all about feeling good.

I can hardly believe it myself, but I’m here to offer you a scandalous possibility. Exercise doesn’t have to be a painful path to some better, thinner, faster, stronger you. Forget the scale, the the speed, the reps, the distance covered.

The real salvation is simply in doing any sort of exercise, just for the joy of being in your own skin.

Forget the “expert” advice. Take ten minutes. Come on home to you.