Everyone can learn to love exercise. The other day I wrote about why I think that unconditionally loving our bodies can be detrimental to our success (Read: WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH LOVING YOUR BODY), but what if we get completely lost in a whirlpool of constantly beating ourselves up and comparing ourselves to others? That can be even worse.
All too often I’m sitting with a group of friends and the conversation naturally turns to our bodies and how we feel about them (hint, it’s never positive). Almost always, someone is focusing on what they hate about themselves and then justifying why it’s okay to eat. Then the conversation turns to exercising and everyone usually gets strangely quiet. The ones who do workout regularly, almost inevitably fall off the wagon, so how is it that some of us are able to consistently workout while for others it is an insurmountable chore?
I think that the magic lies in some of us finding the true pleasure of exercising, while others see it as something they have to do. Sure, there are lots of ways that you can trick yourself into doing something physical, but until you learn to love it, this will always be a short term deal.
EVERYONE CAN LEARN TO LOVE EXERCISE
SO HOW DO YOU LEARN TO LOVE IT?
The first step is making an open ended plan. You commit to exercise and not doing it is not an option. Be prepared that it will be hard and it won’t always be fun, but it’s something that you do. This is no different than brushing your teeth in the morning or washing your hair, it’s just something you do.
Before you start freaking out, not once did I say that you have to start going to the gym or pounding out the weights every day. For starters, it can be something so simple as taking a walk. One wonderful local custom of where I live is after dinner walks that the family takes together. Over time you’ll find other things you want to do, but at the beginning make it easy for yourself. You can do whatever you want. For example, I don’t love going to lift weights, but I do love ballet so that’s what I choose to do.
GIVE IT TIME
Please realize that this might, and in fact probably will, take time. You are setting the groundwork for a new habit and that can’t happen in an instant.
GIVE YOURSELF LOFTY GOALS
I get it, everyone wants a 6-pack, but if you are setting up a workout habit just to lose weight then it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll fall off the wagon because the weight might not come off as quickly as you hoped. I’m sorry to say that, but there’s so much more to losing weight. It can quickly become overwhelming and you wont continue with it long term.
They key is to fall in love with feeling good. Regular workouts are about so much more than just buying smaller sizes, which is valid but kind of petty and materialistic. Soon you’ll find that you feel better overall, you’ll notice that your mood is lighter and your outlook is sunnier. There might even come a time when you start craving exercise.
HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?
At some point, you’ll also need to sit down and have a frank chat with yourself. How badly do you want this? If you truly want something badly enough then you’ll always find a way to make it happen. Chances are that if you kind of only sort of want to get fit then that’s exactly how much effort you’ll put into it. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to find a workout buddy or anything because then you’ll always be accountable to someone else. The person you really need to be honest with is yourself.
- Change up your workouts constantly. Unless you find something that you really love you’ll get bored and you’ll stop doing it, it’s that simple.
- Reward yourself frequently. Years ago when I was training for a major hiking trip, we would go for a 2 hours walk and then eat a bowl of ice cream. Over time the ice cream stopped, but the workouts didn’t and I was in great shape that I managed to keep up. As the months progressed, I became even more motivated to eat healthy.
- Make it a seamless part of your day. Instead of specifically scheduling in a workout, try to make it a natural part of your day. For me, I take a break from writing at around 3pm, take my dog out for a walk, have a snack and then prepare for my dance class. It’s just something I do, everyday. Sure, sometimes I skip a class or even two, but I never beat myself up over it. On the days when I’m on the fence about going, I just get dressed to go, it’s that last motivating thing that pushes me over the edge and I usually wind up having a great class.