Do you struggle to workout? Do you consider yourself ‘allergic’ to exercise? Do you find it nigh on impossible to actually get on a do it? If this sounds like you and you are trying to lose weight using diet alone then I know exactly how you feel because I have been there. If you’ve read some of my other blogs on the subject then I am sure you already know just how far down the rabbit hole I had fallen. I often get asked how I turned it around and how I managed to start and stick to exercise. Truth is there are always going to be days where you don’t feel like it or can’t be bothered. Remember you are not alone. I am a personal trainer and I still have days where the pay off just isn’t enough to convince me to do it. Well here are a few things that keep me motivated to exercise on days like these and push myself into action.
- Weigh it against physical experiences first. Compare it to something else that you struggle with but have always managed to overcome. This paints a nice mental picture. For example on a day where I am struggling with the very concept of exercise, I think of it as like those mornings where you just can’t get out of bed. Where it’s freezing outside and you just can’t imagine the horrors that await you when you put your feet on the cold, hard floor. But once you tear off the duvet and get out, it’s not so bad. We can build things up, especially exercise, into something torturous and terrifying. After all it can be uncomfortable. What kind of a crazed individual would put themselves through such a thing? The answer is that these crazies know it will make their day better not worse. You will never regret the workout that you did! You will however regret the one you didn’t do!
- The truth is if you ask these perky individuals how on earth they do it everyday they find it so easy to list the benefits. You almost can’t believe anything as seemingly unpleasant as exercise can be so wonderful. They tell tales of how it sets them up for the day, makes them happy, gives them energy, gives them mental strength! These mental benefits (just to name a few) are what keeps them coming back for more. And that’s where you want to get to. To the stage where you need it! You want it! You can’t imagine NOT doing it. So hang in there. Remember where you are trying to get to with this and imagine how good it will feel when you don’t have to go through the ‘sitting on the fence’ part everyday. I used to spend ages in a mental battle with myself trying to talk myself into exercising then out of it again. What a waste of time. Rip off the band-aid! Get it done! I soon realised that in the time it took me to do all this mental back and forth, I could have completed an entire workout.
- Weigh up the numbers: Think about it realistically. 20-45 minutes of being uncomfortable (yes I said 20 because at this stage in the game everything counts) is better than the rest of your life being uncomfortable. Put this time chunk of your day into perspective. It’s nothing! Just like ripping off the bedclothes which we have already mentally established we can do! Piece of cake!
- If the weighing of numbers hasn’t worked for me yet, I make them smaller and more attractive. This reduces the amount of perceived pain I am going to experience. For example I tell myself to do just 5 minutes. This is always enough to get me through a whole workout because after 5 minutes I’m ready, I’m warmed up, blood is pumping and I have enough energy. I might as well finish the workout now I’m here right?
- When all else fails, I tell myself just to put my damn trainers on. I say to myself “ Fine then, just get dressed anyway so you are ready just in case you decide to change your mind”. This always works. It does help to keep them by the bed to taunt you in your hour of need. If you know you are going to struggle then have your clothes at the ready!
- There are lots of other little things you can to help you stay on track such as having a killer playlist! But these tips are just for the darkest moments of despairing wannabe exercisers.
- For some people remembering why you are doing it is a key motivator for getting on with it. However for me this was not the case. All that did was make me list all my reasons for doing it and therefore starting my day with a list of things that I wasn’t happy with, either about myself or my life that went something like this “ I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m miserable, I have no willpower” etc. See where I am going with this? Try to turn your thoughts around to how you will feel once you have done it. Think how much better you will feel and how it is working towards your goal. At times like these, in my own experience, it is not helpful to look inwards and dig deep. Stay positive and keep moving forwards. Never look back! It will not serve you.
- It is important to note that at no point in this process however do I make the mistake of negative self-talk. I used to think I could punish my way into action, but it only causes inaction. So often we are told to think about our health and how unhealthy we are if we don’t exercise. We list all the symptoms of the diseases we will get if we don’t do it. Whilst fear can be an excellent motivator, at times like these when you are lying there in the morning just trying to get up, I find it best not to think like this. We can become guilted into exercise thinking only of the health benefits. Whilst health benefits are exceptionally important, they are just another list of reasons you “should” exercise. Right now you need to WANT to exercise. If you only think of the “should” reasons then it makes it harder. This saps your energy and makes you depressed. Then you will never do it. You get a heavy heart, feel guilty and decide you aren’t worth it. A dark cloud settles in over your day and makes you feel worthless and weak. This is no way to start a day!
Try not to think ahead to that one exercise or movement you know you hate. My mind would always go there and I would picture my whole workout and it would really stop me in my tracks. We usually hate the exercise we are weakest at so try to look at it as something you are excited to get better at, to improve on and to work on. One day you will nail it and it probably will become your favourite moves. Then you won’t have to worry about it anymore. YAY! However, remember that the most important thing is that you do SOMETHING and don’t give up. So if it is an actual work out you are afraid of this morning, then do something else for today. Something that you DO want to do. Go for a run, a walk, play tennis. Whatever will get YOU motivated!
If you have overcome struggles with exercise or are new to it I would love to hear about the ways you combat your inner exercise demons. We all have that one workout we hate (ahemm leg day), those days we struggle and that challenge that sometimes we feel we cannot face. Know that you CAN face it and you WILL! Feeling daunted and bitter about exercise is common for many people in the beginning especially. But it is how we deal with the challenge that will make or break our relationship with exercise and ultimately ourselves.
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