Pain in life Understand Pain By Sophie Xie / June 25, 2016 How to live a balanced and pain free life when you HATE THE GYM with a passion I am writing this post because I HATE THE GYM. Every time a friend tried to explain to me the exhilarating feeling they got after a good workout, my stomach would twinge with this nasty feeling of guilt, self-doubt and frustration. Why do I always feel traumatized and striked by a flu whenever the gym is through with me?Over the past decade, I tried to change this fact about me. Did I need to adapt my body to exercising and form new habits? I disciplined myself to 30 mins of cardio per day for 3 months. As a result, I lost 20 pounds and hated every second of it. Did I need a new environment and to mentally adapt exercising as part of my life? I signed up for the Army and forced myself through basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood. During the training, my mind and body experienced numerous breakdowns and breakthroughs. The army helped me to build character and pride, but did not nurture my love for the gym or exercise.Why was I so desperately wanting to become a gym-holic? Because as a physical therapist, I was taught the benefit of fitness to our overall health. I was trained to believe that a combination of cardio and strength training is the best treatment and prevention for physical injuries and body pains. And I also lectured my patients to embrace their local gym with open heart.However, as I was promoting "going to the gym" as the golden pill to their broken body, I saw the same frustrated, self-loathing and guilt drenched expression on my patients' faces. After battling and covering-up my shameful hatred for the gym and exercise to my clients and myself day after day, my belief shattered one afternoon while listening to a chronic pain patient talking about her family and life. Every living person on this planet faces many struggles everyday. Every decision we make is a battle we choose to fight. However, my emotional struggle with the gym and exercise is a war that I have lost miserably. Yet, I still managed to be healthy, upbeat, and have a pain free capable body. So "going to the gym" cannot be the only "yellow brick road" to health and fitness.As a physical therapist who hates the gym with a passion and also chooses to have a pain free body, I now proudly recommend the following tips for a healthier, gym-free, guilt free life.Be an adventurous eaterHave I mentioned that I am a foodie as well? Since we are all about picking a fight that we have a chance of winning, I am not going to lecture you to eat "healthy", whatever that means. Personally, I found that the best bet to win the food-war is to eat everything. Every edible ingredient can be useful in someway. Every culture's cuisine has its wisdom. Instead of failing the 30 day kyle challenge, let's fill our stomach with all sorts of stuff. Eat some fruits, some veggies, some carbs and some meats, some cooked, some raw, some fermented, some dried, some spiced, some natural, some comfort food, some quinoa and kyle, some ice-cream and something that looks highly questionable and frightening. Everything in moderation is a gift, and in-excess is poison. If you really enjoy food and cannot give it up, then break through your comfort zone and embrace the variety.In addition, knowing that your lunch choice is an experience instead of a life sentence, trying your cousin's gluten free, carb free, fat free high fiber, high protein, power food rich lunch dish may actually be fun and enlightening. Do not exercise. PLAYImagine yourself being eight and dashing around the playground without knowing what heaviness and fatigue feel like. Then "growing up" happened and playing is considered an irresponsible and selfish luxury. Instead of using our bodies in the unnatural means of exercising in the gym, we can enjoy ourselves through playing. You know the money that you saved by canceling the gym membership that you never used? You get to do some shopping and playing.You can buy awesome gear and get tanned naturally. You can buy a season pass to the amusement park and fulfill your childhood dream with your family. You can backpack across Europe and feel young and invincible again. You can try driving rare race-cars or playing laser tag and feeling more thrill than playing video games.If your wallet is feeling light, have no fear. Surround yourself with kids and they will keep you busy. Surround yourself with families and friends and learn to cook like your aunt. If you simply like some time and space to yourself, start a garden or build something in your garage with loud music on.Doing functional and enjoyable activities can lead to fascinating changes to your brain. Not only will your brain release hormones to suppress your pain signals, using your body in more meaningful ways also helps to rewire our neural systems, raising your pain threshold and tolerance. Learn to let go and get some ZZZs...For many people, the biggest devil of their life is stress. Because of their mounting stress, they are bound to their desk job, losing sleep and temper. It is true that exercise can help some people manage stress and improve sleep quality. However, the pressure to exercise may add additional stress to people like me. Whatever is stressing you, the solution needs to begin from within you. You cannot fight every battle in your life because you will likely get lost in the small battles and lose the sight of the bigger war. Letting go of unnecessary struggles is a crucial decision and agreement between you and yourself in order to save your health and sanity.Try this. Arrange a good chunk of time to be by yourself. List things that bother you on daily basis. For each thing that bothers you, consider the worst case scenario if you let it be. "The house is always a mess. If I don't clean it, it will continue to be a mess. If someone see the mess, they will judge me and think of me as a horrible housekeeper. Can I live with such judgement?" Sort all your struggles into two columns: the "let go" and "fight till death". Fight for your core values, not social expectations.After this in-depth conversation with yourself, you can now seek whatever treatment or techniques to help you with manage your stress and relax your body: aromatherapy, meditation, tapping, counselling or medication. You will have a much better chance to succeed with these treatments once you are decided and prepared.So why all the trouble and big gestures? Because for most people, once their mind and body can relax, they can finally get the quality sleep that is truly essential to recovery, health and having the energy to live and play. Bottom Line: get some serious ZZZs. Maintenance and tune-upYou maintenance your car. You maintenance your roof and garden. You maintenance your relationship through gifts and text messages. Are you overdue for maintenancing your body? Get massaged by a good massage therapist to relieve body pains and muscles stiffness. Muscle musculoskeletal problems starts with small aches and pains that can be easily resolved under a skilled healing touchTake your vacations and sick days to keep your (and your family's) sanityEmbrace some form of a detox diet twice a year to feel lighter in your digestive systemStretch often to maintain muscle balanceLearn to breath through your diaphragmThese are my ways to sustain a healthy and pain-free body without forcing myself to go to the gym. I hope this article can inspire you to find your own way to say goodbye to your struggle with "going to the gym". Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.Like what you just read? Share this post via our social media buttons! 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