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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?