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Do You Dread Exercise?

Do You Dread Exercise?

May 1, 2018

Maybe you just need a change of mindset.

Do you dread going to the gym? Do you hate the idea of exercising? Is it boring? Or embarrassing?
These are very common thoughts so don’t feel alone if you answered yes to any of them. However, I believe these thoughts and feelings can be overcome by changing your mindset on exercise.

Here is what I mean.

I want you to think about why you exercise? Why do you think you need to go the gym? Or why do you think you need to walk, run, bike or swim?
Is it because you need to burn some extra calories? Because your doctor told you it would be good for you? Because you think it will benefit your heart? Are you hard on yourself or do you feel lazy if you do not exercise?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read on – it is time for a change in your mindset.

I used to think these same things many years ago. I wanted to be thin, strong and healthy and felt that I needed to exercise to do this. But I didn’t know what to do to make the types of changes I wanted. Or if I exercise it was so boring it wouldn’t last long. Pretty much every day I would walk into a gym and go from boring machine to another boring machine. I hated it!! I always dreaded doing it and never looked forward to it. It did make me feel better after I was done but only because I had exercised, and I was convinced that exercising would make me healthy. But it didn’t!

I felt good right after my “workout” each day. But after months it didn’t seem to move me toward my goals of being thinner, stronger and healthier. I would stop what I was doing and try different things to see how my body reacted: Swimming (I had shoulder pain), Yoga (I didn’t get much stronger and my cardio got worse), back to the machines (boring).

Fast forward to today and I am thin, strong and very healthy. Now I workout 4-6 days per week, and have fun doing it. How did I change my mindset?

I found something I enjoy: CrossFit. At CrossFit we lift weights and do “cardio” in the form of pushups, jumping, squats, lunges, rowing, situps, etc… Periodically we “run” at CrossFit when the weather is nice. (I hate running, but if that’s your thing it’s ok…. We can still be friends.) I also play golf (walking) when the weather is nice.

I no longer exercise to burn calories or punish myself. I exercise to have fun, feel better, get stronger and ….. hmmmm….. I never thought of it this way before, but I actually WANT to get better at exercising!

I set goals for exercise, such as how much weight I can lift. And I track my progress in the form of how much weight I lift and how fast I move. I’m always looking to get stronger so each workout I am focused on pushing myself by adding more weight, more reps, or decreasing my rest periods.
Lastly, I don’t force myself to exercise to be healthy. This was a big change in mindset for me. It has taken a while for me to achieve this mindset, but the longer I “exercise” the more I realize how little missing one or two sessions here and there impacts my fitness and health goals. It is more important to stay consistent over the long-term.

So how can you change your mindset?

Find something active you enjoy. If you love to run, then run. If you like to play basketball, then find some friends to play with or join a league. Play golf, tennis, soccer, etc…. Gardening, walking, swimming, etc…. Maybe your activity is playing with your kids, mowing your lawn, or cleaning your house. Just find a fun activity you enjoy doing.

Then, workout to get better at your activities. Anything active requires you to have some basic level of strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, speed, power, endurance. Find a workout program (like CrossFit) that will improve all these things.

You don’t have to be good at your activity, and you don’t have to be good at your workout either! At CrossFit the Coaches are there to make sure you stay safe and have fun at the same time. The variety of exercises and workouts help produce results and keep things from being boring. The CrossFit members can all relate to your struggles and help to reward your accomplishments. Find a workout that does all these things and you’ll get better at your activity and your workouts!

Get out of the mindset that you need to crush yourself to have a good workout. Total exhaustion does not characterize a good workout. When you’re done with your workout you should be sweaty, fatigued and tired. However, by the time you leave the gym you should be feeling more energized than when you started.

I am also a big believer in starting small. What are you currently doing? If you are only walking twice a week do not start running five days a week to get healthy. This will most likely be unsustainable. Maybe start running one day a week if that is what you enjoy while keeping up with your walks on the other two days. After a week or two add in an additional day of running if you feel good and are enjoying yourself.
At CrossFit Schenectady everyone starts with a beginner program. This is where you learn what you are capable of. You’ll also learn a variety of exercises that will stop your workouts from being boring. Your Coach learns about you and how to give you a good workout, but keep you safe! These are all important to starting small and not over doing it!

Get out of the mindset that you need to “exercise” for X minutes Y times a week. If you are feeling tired one day, then relax or maybe go for a long walk. Never force yourself to exercise if your body isn’t feeling right.

In the beginning plan on working out 4-5 days per week and if you make it 3 days that’s great! Once you’re comfortable with your workouts you can plan on 6 days per week (if you have some variety) and you should make it 4-5 days. If you happen to get 6 sometimes that’s awesome! Good for you!

Set a performance goal. If you like to lift weights, there are a ton of goals you can aim for. Maybe you want to do a chin-up, a push-up from the floor, or squat your bodyweight. Whatever it is, find a performance goal and “exercise” to achieve that. You are much less likely to dread exercise if you set these goals.

Stop viewing exercise to burn extra calories. Exercising actually burns very few calories. What you eat has a much larger impact on losing fat or gaining muscle. Gaining muscle will improve your metabolism and help you burn more calories at rest. Set a performance goal and start exercising to accomplish that goal instead of focusing on calories. Your body composition, strength, fitness, and confidence will all thank me later.

I hope these have convinced you that exercise does not have to be something you dread. You simply must change your mindset and find something you enjoy doing. Exercise does not have to be boring and exhausting. It should energize you and add value to your life, not take away from it.
What do you think? Have you dealt with dreading workouts in the past?

How have you overcome that mindset and become consistent?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.