Not Every Moment Can Be a 10

By Leslie Barker
February 12, 2023

And That’s OK!

We are all, I venture to guess, harder on ourselves than we need to be. We look at posts of Facebook friends and think, “Why doesn’t my food look that good?” or “I always thought my vacations were fun until I saw pictures from so-and-so’s trip.”

Looping it around to exercise, maybe you just finished an exhausting-in-a-good way spin class when your instructor calls out, “All done! Everybody make it to 20 miles? You should have!” You look at the trip monitor on your stationary bike and it says 18 miles. Suddenly, you wonder if the workout that seemed great 30 seconds ago was all for naught.

Or you swim (or run or row) at a pace you thought was pretty speedy until you look at your watch and see you were downright pokey.

And you think, “What’s the point?”

Well, as someone who felt all of this, I offer: Darn right that workout was not for naught. Of course, there is a point to each of them.

Not every workout can be a 10. Nothing in life is always a 10.

Sometimes achieving a 10 on a workout is the goal, and when you accomplish that, it’s wonderful. But maybe the point, one day, is just to move — no matter how fast, how far, how long. To be outside, hearing your heart and your footsteps, watching time pass as the seasons change.

For my spin class, the workout is only half the reason I go. The other half? Camaraderie. Our class is fun. We laugh, we struggle, we sweat together. When the hour is up, we rarely dash away. We linger, catching up on family news and plans for the rest of the day.

I probably spend too much time at home, and swimming gets me out. Sometimes I see familiar swimmers, and we exchange pleasantries for a few minutes. And when I have the water to myself, I feel invigorated. Either scenario is a gift. It’s very rarely a 10, but it’s also very rarely unsatisfying.

Of course, I get discouraged. I’m competitive with myself, so I would love every workout to be at least as good as the one before. But it’s not going to be.

And I’m fine with that.

If you’re setting New Year’s resolutions, consider including this caveat. Aim high with what you hope to achieve, but not so high your resolutions are unreachable. And maybe next on the list, remind yourself to allow (and be grateful) for plenty of fours and fives, and even the occasional three.

That’s what I do at the gym. Just before I turn into the parking lot, I whisper this: Thank you for letting me be here, and please help me do my best.

We can be grateful for every breath, every step, every beat of our hearts — and every number on that scale of satisfaction.

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