The belief systems we create for ourselves govern our daily decisions and actions. Unfortunately, we usually don’t have an initial say in developing these beliefs because they’re adopted subtly and quickly from messages we internalize from the world.
We latch onto whatever it is that we’re being told, and believe it to be law. We believe it’s not only true, but that there will be severe consequences if we go against these beliefs, disregard the “right” way to live and instead go our own way.
In reality, these beliefs are normally false and implanted in our brains without our permission. There are varying degrees but a few examples could be believing that:
“When I finally make $100,000 a year, I will have everything I want.”
“I’m a bad person for eating out more than two times a week.”
“My boyfriend won’t love me if I’m not skinny and petite.”
“I receive more attention when I lose weight.”
“I gain more power in my life by climbing up the corporate ladder.”
Some of these beliefs are more serious than others, and depending on the degree, it can run you into the ground. There’s one belief in particular that I’ve been noticing a lot in the fitness world and feel the need to explain my own experience with it.
It’s the belief that you must do lots of cardio, or very intense cardio, in order to stay healthy/thin/beautiful/successful/etc.
I’m not even sure exactly when I stopped believing this myth but I think it was about six months after I started testing this theory, stopped doing cardio and saw that “fat” never happened overnight.
In fact, my eating habits didn’t become out of control either. I actually got my period back too! I even quit my job and became a full time entrepreneur. Hmmm, I also wrote a book! I made a coaching program as well. I flew to Hawaii and spent two weeks there (not running). I scheduled photo shoots confidently with my favourite photographer. I ate yummy delicious food without any consequences at all.
I even wore a swimsuit and took a picture in it!!!
Come to think of it…I love my body ten times more than I EVER did when I was religiously engaging in weekly, scheduled cardio.
My knees no longer hurt. My heart, which was once longing for perfection, no longer aches at the thought of gaining weight.
I tested my theory. About a year ago I gave up cardio, hoping and trusting that nothing terribly bad would happen. I was praying that I wouldn’t wake up with a different body than the one I was used to, or that I would still be the same Maddy Moon I always was. But deep down, I just wasn’t sure.
Every Pinterest “fitspo” picture, every Instagram running meme, every self-righteous “clean eating” Facebook group invite kept trying to reel me back into my old ways.
At first it was difficult to ignore pictures like this, but deep down I knew there was something phony and fake about them.
I knew that many girls in fitspo photos have most likely 1. Been photo-shopped 2. Lost their period 3. Wanted to stop doing cardio too!
So I pushed on.
And years later, I still look the exact same as I did when I was doing cardio…if not better. I look better in my eyes, at least.
To me, “better” means confident. Every time I stepped on that treadmill, I was running away from fear. I was scared that the minute I stepped off the treadmill, elliptical or spin class bike, I would have to face real life situations that made me feel out of control.
I would have to go to events where my perfectly portioned Tupperware meals weren’t socially acceptable and I would have to eat whatever dinner was served. I would have to go on dates where I didn’t know what he thought of me. I would have to go to class and school and face rejection from my peers.
But I always felt safe doing cardio. I believed that as long as I used the treadmill to keep me thin, everything would be under control.
Years later, I can say that ever since I stepped off of the treadmill I now have better coping mechanisms for when life feels “out of control” and one of them involves embracing life’s unexpected moments.
I feel more beautiful, confident, and comfortable in my own skin. I also love my life more because I respect it enough to spend what precious time I have doing things I love. Playing, laughing, hiking, rock climbing, stretching, walking, singing (in the shower), coloring, podcasting, coaching, and so on.
I opened up SO MUCH TIME for myself by subtracting cardio. SO MUCH. I stopped wasting my life away doing things I hated, and started exploring new interests. With cardio, it took about two hours to finish the whole shebang including getting dressed, picking a perfect playlist, going to the gym (or track), running, getting back home, showering, doing my hair and make-up, eating, and then getting back to work. And hating the entire process.
Now I have two more hours to do something that I love, that won’t stress me out (physically and mentally) and will also allow me to create something magical instead.
It goes without saying, some people love cardio and this obviously isn’t for you. Keep doing cardio if you love it, I think that’s great!
It also goes to say that SOMETIMES I do run. Sometimes I do high intense workouts. I’m not black or white and all or nothing. I do what my body enjoys doing, and that means many days my heart rate does get high but it’s not from pre-planned, scheduled running routines. It’s intuitive, spontaneous and always, always enjoyable.
If you are continuing to do cardio out of fear that if you stop, “something” bad will happen, than trust me when I say, ending your cardio obsession will open you up to life’s biggest possibilities. More confidence, time, energy and love are waiting just around the corner.
Will you give it a shot?