When exercise isn’t your favorite

So…. fitness.

It’s quite a popular topic around these parts. Working out seems to be everyone’s #1 hobby. Going on a 3-mile run is considered an easy work out and hitting up the gym 6 days a week is the norm. Some you even work out for your job (I’m looking at you Heather ;))

Well, I’ve got a confession to make…. I don’t love working out. 

Am I allowed to say that? I know it’s kind of taboo in the healthy living world,  but I will say it- exercising is not my favorite. In fact, more times than not, I have to do some convincing to get myself to the gym. Do I enjoy myself once I get there? Probably more than half the time. Do I feel good once it’s over? Pretty much every time.


I won’t lie. I’m envious of people who love to work out. I see things like “Bikini Body Guide” sweeping the interwebs and I think… maybe I should do that? But then I read the plan and I’m like “blegh, no thanks.” I’m not intrinsically motivated to commit myself to a plan like that. It sounds good in theory, but it feels more like a chore.

Growing up I wasn’t exactly un-athletic, but I wasn’t ever an athlete. As a kid I preferred chatting with friends at recess to playing tag. I won the “cute as a button” award when I played little league softball. The one sport I truly loved was gymnastics, but as I got older I traded it for cheerleading because I preferred the social aspect.

Sometimes I feel like maybe I should love running or that I should make myself do it and eventually it will be fun. I’ve had plenty of positive running experiences, but I dread the thought of getting started. I think the lack of motivation partly has to do with where I am at in life right now. I’m in school full-time and I work. When I have free time, I don’t want to spend 2 hours in the gym.

However, because I’m educated on how fitness greatly improves one’s life, I engage in regular exercise. About about 5 times a week, I work out for 30-45 minutes. And I don’t hate it. While it’s not my favorite thing, I’ve learned to enjoy it.

In case there are others out there that feel like me, I thought I’d share five of the ways that help me to both enjoy exercising and stick to a routine. Spoiler: it’s NOT guilt tripping myself.

  1. I give myself a time “limit”. I go into the gym with a time in mind that I need to leave. Knowing that I just have 30-45 minutes to get a good work out in helps me to stay focused. When I go into the gym without any sense of time, I tend to wander aimlessly feeling like I’ve been there for an hour already.
  2. I multi-task. My favorite way to do cardio at the gym is to forget I’m doing cardio. Watching TV on the elliptical or reading a book on the stair climber is a great way to pass the time. Or listen to a podcast. If I am working out at home, sometimes I’ll turn on Netflix while I do an upper body workout with the barbells. During the warmer months, I multi-task by making walking dates with my friends. We cover a lot of miles without realizing it, since we’re so busy chatting.
  3. I accept my body. Despite the claims I am making today, there was a period of time in my life when I was addicted to working out. It was when I was enslaved to the ideals of how my body should look. I feared that not working out would cause my appearance to take a nosedive. Even though I was consistently working out, I didn’t love it all because I felt like it was something I had to do. Now, I’m not saying I always love my body (I’ve written my thoughts on that), but I’m okay with it. It’s mine. Accepting my body for what it is (which pretty spectacular!) allows me to not get frustrated when I don’t see “gains”. I don’t need to be a slave to the gym in order to keep my appearance up.
  4. I focus on feeling strong and energetic. Because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be a marathon runner or cross fitter, I’ve turned my focus to simply feeling good. I don’t need to spend hours in the gym nor do I have to kill myself to achieve this. I think of my time at the gym as an opportunity to reflect and recharge. If I’m exhausted, it’s counterproductive for me to go to the gym. But on most days, I try to remember that awesome feeling I have leaving a Zumba class.
  5. I properly fuel my body with food and sleep. If I am not fueling my body, I’m going to feel like crap if I try to work out. Since starting grad school, I’ve learned that if I have to choose between sleep and exercise, I need to choose sleep. I also need to be eating enough fats, carbs, protein, and overall calories if I want to my workouts to be health-ful and not harmful.


It’s important to remember that’s what is portrayed in the Healthy Living community is not a reflection of the general population. Most of the people I work with feel proud when they make it to the gym 3 times a week. Others don’t exercise at all. Others, like my Dad, get their exercise by walking everyday. If you are active for 30-45 minutes 5x/week, you are doing good. If you don’t believe me, check out the guidelines for physical activity for adults from the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and Centers for Disease Control.

If you don’t love exercise, don’t sweat it. Rather than focusing on all the things you don’t want to do, or worse focusing on what everyone else is doing, try to find something you enjoy. Even if it’s watching terrible reality TV on the treadmill. 😉

So you tell me…

What’s your favorite way to move your body?





46 thoughts on “When exercise isn’t your favorite

  1. Love this post, Kate. I can definitely relate to your words, at times. While I do LOVE to run (it’s my escape for my mind), sometimes motivation can be really difficult. Sometimes I just want to watch a show on the elliptical, or just lift weights for 20 minutes because I know how good I’ll feel after. But sometimes, I’m just not feeling it and don’t work out. I can’t fight it if my body is telling me no, or somedays, I just don’t have it at all or I’m way too busy. There’s more to life!

  2. So, in the past I was totally on the same board as you. Step by step I start to love my workout! Running is my therapy, it really is. And I do BBG (11 week now). It is tough program, but I feel so strong and confident after 😉 I think key is founding your “right” type of workout.

  3. Love love looooove these tips! I think I go through phases. Sometimes it’s easy to keep myself motivated to go to the gym and sometimes I juste don’t feel like it. I have a few accountability friends that are good at reminding me how happy I’ll be once a workout is done 😉 But I think the tip about accepting your body is a really important one that most people don’t really talk about!

  4. Oh, can I ever relate. You’re even better then me because it’s very difficult to bring myself to the gym more then 3-4 times a week, BUT, at least I am going! I can totally understand the multi tasking thing, it makes the time pass a little faster. One of my biggest problems with the gym is I think I don’t push myself enough when I do workout, I do workouts where I feel sweaty but comfortable, and I often hear that you should be pushing yourself more and more, but…. I think I am too lazy!! I still feel as if I need to find the workout that is best for me, but as someone who is not the LEAST athletic, it is hard!

    1. I think giving myself a time limit has helped me to push myself more, since I know it will be over at a certain time. Maybe when we are out of school we’ll have more time to find that workout that is just right!

  5. Hmm I’d have to say I love to run, but sometimes it is a challenge! Today’s run was supossed to be easy and recovery, but it was so mentally taxing. I was cold and did not sleep well. I always remember that there will be bad days, but overall I love it.

  6. I could write a novel on this (might just have to write a post, too – thanks for the inspiration!). 😉

    I feel the SAME way and this has actually been on my mind a while. In fact, the whole healthy living blog community has been on my mind. If you’re a fitness professional, it’s normal to work out all the time, but I’m sorry, if you’re not resting and you feel inadequate if you skip a workout, you are NOT well!
    I do enjoy working out (once I’m at the gym!) and was athletic as a child (competitive gymnast) but I was the laziest athlete! I always begged my mom to let me skip practice. In high school I played soccer to stay active but would “forget” my running shoes to get out of running. Horrible! But now I’ve learned that I love being active but when it’s something I ENJOY. I’d rather hike, do a fun group class, or run around with my dog/child than force myself to do a workout I’m not feeling. And I realize “we make time for what’s important to us” but when I am already getting up at 5:30, work 8-5 and have to eat/clean/care for the baby, I’d rather spend those few hours at home than the gym. My family (& a bit of vanity – not going to lie) are my motivation to be healthy but mental health – and sleep! – are part of that equation, too.

    Phew, that was wordy! But I think you have a very healthy view on fitness at this point in your life.

    1. I’m so on the same page as you!
      I totally remembering never practicing for the sports I played outside of designated practices and games. I just wanted to hang out!
      I think being so busy with school, work, and a new marriage these past two years has taught me that I have to just lower my expectation. Working out is not the most important thing to me and I have to let how I use my time reflect my values.
      Thanks for sharing your input!!

  7. I hate working out. It’s the worst activity ever. Haha! But I love how I feel when I’m done, so there’s that. 🙂 Plus running is kinda fun and it’s fairly social, particularly at races and group runs and such. Great post, lady!

  8. Love these tips Kate! My favorite way to workout and move my body is either yoga or spinning. I set a time limit for myself at the gym too: helps me stay more focused and motivated!

  9. Love these tips, girl! I find that I go through phases of loving and hating exercise. Right now I’m loving it, but that’s mostly because I get to watch shows while I’m on the treadmill, so I probably look forward to that more than the actual exercise 😛 But it’s hard to deny all the physical and mental benefits that come with exercise. The process might be gruelling sometimes, but the effects are more than worth it.

  10. Love your honesty here! Not everyone is fitness-crazed, and there really is nothing wrong with that. Just walking for an hour today is considered physical activity, and that is what I recommend to everyone who hates “sweating.” Grab a friend, a love, a dog, etc and just hit the pavement! Enjoy the scenery, walk to get a cup of coffee, but just MOVE. Like you though, when it comes to cardio I definietly multi task. I watch shows while I spin all the time!

  11. Kate, can I just tell you how much I love you! You are such an amazing person and your words speak to my soul. I love your honesty and can TOTALLY relate to it at times!
    Yes, I do workout for my job and most of the time I love it, but there are days when I’m too tired or just plain don’t feel like it.
    The thing that keeps me going when I’m teaching though is the energy from the class. One of my favorite things is to motivate people to do things that they didn’t think they could do.

  12. I love this. If I’m going to hate it, I just don’t do it. I love (most of the time) challenging myself, but I’m not going to do it to just be miserable. Feeling strong and energetic has become more of a priority to me over the years. I think I used to want to be totally drained, thinking that that meant that I had a good workout. I didn’t realize that it’s okay to have a few days like that, but if that’s always happening, something’s wrong. I LOVE multi-tasking too when I just don’t feel like working out. It’s fun to be on the bike and watch a movie with the family or read or listen to something. That way it keeps my mind off of working out. I actually really love going to the gym with someone, or else I’d rather workout at home. I guess I’m kind of lazy when it comes to having to drive somewhere.

    1. I definitely understand the driving thing. My gym is at my school, so it’s extra hard to push myself to go on days that I’m not in school.
      Feel strong and energetic are definitely my priorities too!

  13. I feel you!! This is how I’ve always felt about going to the gym and running. I can do it, but don’t love it. Then I found Zumba and it is amazing! I always look forward to going and it is so fun! So now I think there’s gotta be a workout out there for everyone, something that clicks with you and you’ll love it… you just have to find it! (Unfortunately that takes a lot of energy to try a bunch of new things but it may just be worth it!!)

  14. I love that you mentioned that those in the “healthy living blogger” world are anamolies to the rest of the world – many MANY people do not work out at all, besides everyday movements and walks etc (or maybe some activities like sports that they enjoy). Many of my friends are this way. They don’t do any formal workouts because they don’t like to. And that is SO okay.

  15. Ahh, you see. I have a question for you. Do you not love exercise or not love the gym? I think a lot of people think they are one in the same. If they don’t have time to go to the gym then they don’t have time to exercise. Not true!! I definitely enjoy yoga, going for walks, swimming, biking, rock climbing, etc. The gym on the other hand? I think I like the way I feel afterwards much more than the way I feel while I’m there. I love exercising–always have. But I will never love feeling like a hamster at the gym!!

    1. I actually prefer going to the gym, because it’s a work out zone. My house on the other hand… doesn’t convince so much to work out, haha!
      I do really enjoy hiking and going for walks, but I am sissy when it comes to colder weather.
      I agree though that gym is not a necessity if you hate it!

  16. YES. Yes, yes, yes. I usually enjoy working out once I’m doing it, but I’ve never had that gut deep, in my bones urge to do it. Actually, I really liked running and then I messed my knee up so I had to stop. Occasionally I’ll get REALLY into a workout style/method whatever and be excited for a month, max, but other than that.. it’s hard. I try to get it in in different forms – going for walks with Ryan, uhh chasing him around (because I’m panting after, for sure.) going on hikes as a family.. THOSE workouts I truly enjoy and look forward to. But spending that 40 minutes doing burpees or hardcore yoga (I dig stretch out my back and hips yoga….) is hard to convince myself to do.

  17. Thanks so much for keeping it real. I often find that while I feel great AFTER the workout, I’m not jumping up for joy to head to the gym. It’s nice to know some people can relate.

  18. I agree that when you read a lot of healthy living blogs it is easy to get unrealistic expectations about working out. It is definitely a rare thing for people to work out every single day and love every single minute of it, but I am with you that I feel so much better after a good workout! I like that you give yourself a limit–makes it seem more manageable.

  19. I was NOT very athletic while growing up…I did some gymnastics and soccer…but once I started running in college I fell in love with it. It’s still my favorite activity, even though I also teach/practice yoga. I always think people should find the workout they enjoy best, rather than trying to make themselves run or lift weights if they hate it! Great, honest post!

  20. Thank you for writing and posting this! I needed to hear all of these tips! Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed myself really disliking/hating workout times. I think these tips will be helpful in my recovery journey!! 🙂

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