What if you want to get healthier but you hate exercise? That was me for most of my life, yet today I enjoy working out. Here’s what I did to turn it around.
When You Avoid Fitness
I was not born with the “exercise love” gene.
How often have we heard the advice in the media, from doctors, or well-meaning friends, “Find an activity you love! It won’t even feel like exercise! What do you enjoy doing?”
I don’t buy it.
- What if what you enjoy is sitting in a chair reading a really great book while others are off hiking?
- What if you love lying on the beach on a towel instead of swimming in the ocean?
- What if you’d rather Netflix and chill?
While I appreciate the well-intentioned advice, it will leads your thinking astray.
If you wait until you love exercise, you’re going to be sitting on your butt for a long time.
I don’t love brushing my teeth, but I do it twice a day. I really don’t love flossing but I do that too. (Not as often as my dentist wants to me, but yes, I do it.)
Were You Born Without the “Exercise Love” Gene?
Here’s how to fix this.
Find a way to make yourself exercise. Start ridiculously small – so small it feels stupid. Try five minutes of walking or an exercise video. If you are doing this right, the amount of exercise you do will feel ridiculous and pointless.
Make it part of your everyday life to the point where it’s really difficult not to do it.
Don’t expect to like it. Get someone to make you accountable. Give yourself a reward after you do it. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself moving.
Learning to enjoy it will come in time. (Or at least not hating it.) That’s what happened for me, but it took awhile.
How to Learn to Love Exercise
When I started on my final weight loss journey of losing 100+ pounds, I did not exercise at all for the first 6 months. I just went to therapy and that was all I could manage.
Then I joined WW online in addition to therapy and started slowly adjusting my food intake.
When I started adding fitness into my weight loss journey, I did it for one reason only: so I could eat more. At the time, the Weight Watchers program gave members additional points for physical activity, and I wanted to eat more junk food and snacks in the evening.
How did I feel about exercise at first? I hated it. But I really like to eat, so I kept doing it. It took at least a year, and more like two years, of consistent workouts before I started to enjoy them for the sake of how they made me feel.
When Fitness Doesn’t Feel Good
Don’t expect to feel good during exercise at first. You will get sweaty. You will have aches and pains. You will get out of breath.
This is all normal and healthy people feel these things too.
I still don’t feel great during exercise. It’s not fun. I feel good afterward, though.
At first, you might not feel good after exercise because your body is out of shape. You might feel tired or sore. That gets better, though.
Why Other People Like Exercise
What about the people who DO seem to be born with the “exercise love” gene?
I’ve been around some very fit people during my triathlon and racing activities. People who love to exercise. Annoying people who say things like, “Oh I feel just awful! I couldn’t get out and do that 15 mile run in the snow this morning like I had planned!” (What is the deal with those people? Were they were born with something special the rest of us just didn’t get?)
Here is what I’ve learned. Ask those same people, “Was anything painful during your last run?” Oh my goodness, the horrors they will tell you about during that 15 mile run in the snow:
- Lost toenails
- Side stitches
It’s not that they are gluttons for punishment or that they somehow enjoy pain.
They have learned there are bigger rewards that are worth the pushing through.
How to Motivate Yourself for Fitness
The exercisers don’t have something special that you don’t share. Yes, some people are genetically gifted to run fast or jump far. No matter. We all have the ability to enjoy movement and being fit.
Push yourself just a little bit more than you did the time before, but not too much (whatever that means for you), and there will be a payoff when you start watching for it:
- Feeling good for meeting a goal.
- The “ahh” feeling of a workout accomplished.
- Time spent chatting with a friend during a walk.
- Weight loss.
- Looking more fit.
- Feeling stronger.
Tune in to the payoffs of exercise and each time you will love it just a little bit more.
How will you get started with moving your body more? Share about it in the comments below.