This article was originally published on May 9, 2016.
About four years ago, I found myself speed-walking across my neighborhood at 6:30 a.m., bleary and barely awake, but nonetheless frazzled. I had to get to yoga before 6:55 a.m., or else the door would be closed, class would start without me, and my entire day would be ruined. It wasn't that yoga left me centered and mentally prepared to take on the day. Please, I didn't haul ass across town at dawn for centered. I did it for the Points. An hour of yoga gave me four Activity Points and the 35 minutes of speed-walking gave me three (regular walking was only two), meaning that if I made it to yoga, I could eat a piece of pizza at my friend's birthday later. Not pepperoni pizza, but I could do plain! Oh god, what if all the plain was eaten before I got there? How much more walking would I need to secure the Points necessary for a pepperoni contingency plan? Could I squeeze in another yoga class between work and the party? Maybe if I left early. And speed-walked home. OMG, then I'd have wine Points, too!
This is what I now call irrational fitness.
Irrational fitness has nothing to do with the benefits of fitness and everything to do with punishment and fear. It's based on bogus rules and calculations, with no consideration for things like, you know, health. I was a big fan of this workout until I quit the manic cycle of dieting and the exercise mentality that went along with it. That's when I learned about rational fitness.
People often ask me what rational fitness is, as if I've mentioned a hot new trend they need to google. In truth, it's exactly what it sounds like: exercising, but not like a maniac. Exercising with common sense and without all this rabid score-keeping to determine whether or not you're a total failure based on how many times you got to Zumba this week. Because that's crazy, right? But does it sound oddly familiar?
Don't worry, I was a longtime member of that psycho gym myself. Here's how I got out.
The Anti-Diet Project is an ongoing series about intuitive eating, sustainable fitness, and body positivity. You can follow Kelsey's journey on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller, or right here on Facebook. Curious about how it all got started? Check out the whole column, right here.
Special thanks to Equinox Printing House.