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?
While I appreciate the advice, I think it leads our thinking astray. If we all wait until we love exercise, we’re going to be sitting on our butts for a long time. Way too long.
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 with the “Exercise Love” Gene?
Find a way to make yourself exercise. Make it part of your everyday life to the point where it’s really difficult NOT to do it. The loving it, or at least liking it, will come in time. Or liking how you feel afterwards.
Or at least not hating it.
About 9 years ago, I started on my final weight loss journey of losing 100 pounds. (I had lost weight many times before, but this was the time I would finally lose the weight and keep it off.) I did not exercise at all for the first 6 months. But once I started, I did it for one reason only: so I could eat more. I was using the Weight Watchers Online Program and at the time it rewarded exercise with some extra food points.
Here’s how I felt about exercise for at least the first year: I hated it. But I really like to eat, so I kept doing it. My feelings about exercise have changed over time, but it took awhile.
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! 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 also noticed. Ask those same people, “was anything painful during your last run?” Oh my goodness, the horrors you will hear: Blisters! Lost toenails! Side stitches! They have learned there are bigger rewards that are worth the pushing through. It’s not that the exercisers have something special the rest of us 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.