How You Can Learn to Love Exercise 
Sunday, December 21, 2014
LifeTime WeightLoss in Becca Hurt, Exercise, Mindset, attitude, enthusiasm, fitness motivation, learning to love exercise, mindset

Long ago our prehistoric (and even pre-Industrial) ancestors had to be active. Life simply required it. Today all of our transportation and convenience options can make most activity seem obsolete.

However much our societies have evolved, the human body is still physically the same. Regardless of the seeming inconguity, we remain wired to optimally function with regular activity.

Without the pull of necessity, how can we push ourselves to not only do exercise but actually enjoy it? (The more fun we have, after all, the more motivated we'll be to stay on the path.) Check out these attitude adjusters and logistical strategies to help you learn to love your workouts more.

Accept that perception creates reality. 

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” as the saying goes. 

How successful were you the last time you forced yourself to like something? It's akin to someone constantly warning you when you're upset to just "calm down," no? Generally not a successful approach...

The same goes for exercise. If your attitude is that you have to do it, chances are you'll fail at actually enjoying exercise. Avid exercise enthusiasts didn’t start loving exercising overnight, and they certainly didn’t achieve their eventual passion by treating it like an imposing obligation. The fact is, your perception creates your reality. What’s yours? 

Tweak your perception. Instead of focusing on the individual workout itself, ask what this workout will do for you today. Yes, you'll get tired and probably sweaty. But what else? What about the skin glow, the alleviated restlessness, the deep sleep? What about the sense of strength? Of self-improvement?

Play with the why. Why do you want to love exercise? Why do you want to be more fit? Ask yourself "why" five times for five different answers. The true answer you end up with might just shock you. Yet, you'll also find fodder for motivation in all of your answers. 

Accept that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Just put on your exercise clothes and shoes. Yes, literally start there.

Seem too easy to be effective? The fact is, it begins for all of us - right there. For some, that's a bigger change than what they’ve done in decades. We start exactly where we are, and we commit to what we're willing to do in the here and now.

People who are most successful with implementing exercise and actually developing a genuine love (and craving) for it, almost always do so by changing their perception of working out and why they are working out. Rather than focusing on achieving a number on the scale, a pant-size, or fitting into an old favorite outfit, focus on the things you have control of - your actions and behaviors. Then start noticing the immediate benefits as well as progress toward eventual goals.

Be real about where you're starting from as well as where you'd like to eventually be. Undertake the endeavor with doable expectations - as in what you know you will do. You'll be much more likely to be successful in terms of physical outcomes if you set a realistic trajectory and stick with your efforts consistently.

Go where the fun is.

Set yourself up for success, especially when you're just starting to get into the groove of working out by choosing an activity that you like rather than one you think people should do when they want to get in shape!

How likely do you think you would be assigning yourself a workout 3-5 times a week that you despise? Most people in those circumstances don't make it beyond day three.

Think of the things that you are good at or the activities that you did as a kid. Those activities are fun. Consider joining a league or group fitness class that sounds like a good mix of fitness and play, or take up an activity with friends, family or co-workers doing the kind of exercise you're naturally drawn to. With that decision alone, your workouts just went from dread to enjoyment.

Commit to seeing what routine can do for you.

The only way a behavior becomes a habit and your body starts to adapt (and love!) this addition to your routine is by making it a staple in your schedule. To be successful in terms of your body's outcomes and your personal attachment to your workouts, your fitness ritual needs to be part of your daily/weekly life.

Most of my clients fare the best by starting small. Doing an intense workout at the gym five days in a row and then not at all the next week is typically not the best solution for multiple reasons. It's important to train your brain to see exercise as a pivotal part of the week - not an optional diversion.

If fitting in exercise is most realistic for you 1-2 times a week, start there! It feels good to meet a goal, and we’re more likely to continue with a behavior if we feel/receive positive reinforcement. Make a schedule you think can work on a consistent basis, and follow through no matter how few days you're initially committing to. 

Don't get stuck on replay.

For most of you reading this article, it's not your first rodeo when it comes to figuring out a way to truly embrace exercise. Maybe in previous rounds you didn’t fully implement one of the tactics above. Maybe you’re at a point where trying something out of your element is what's called for.

All too often, we get stuck in a rut of exercise activities that we consider tried and true. They're the ones we “think” are most effective. However, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. There is no perfect workout.

Likewise, what works for one person at a certain point in time might not be the answer at a later date when he/she starts up an exercise routine again. There are countless options of fun activities to try. Yet, all too often we resort to running on the treadmill because it seems like the appropriate "default" choice instead of finding the best option that works for our current interests and continuing progress.

Measure from the beginning how far you've come.

Learning to love exercise obliges you to not only choose what you enjoy but also to observe milestones and improvements - even if they’re only noticeable to you. Positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to staying true to a new behavior change, especially one like moving more.

Some of the best gratification I’ve felt with exercise is seeing how I improved over time. That may not mean that I took first place in a race but that I ran faster than my previous time or set a personal best.

Assessing metrics when you first start is imperative. These numbers will allow you to truly see and know for sure when you hit milestones and accomplishments.

The majority of clients I've worked with aren't initially motivated by the idea of first assessing their health and fitness before they begin. They’d rather get started, gain some momentum and then do an assessment (e.g. blood work, metabolic assessment, body composition, etc.).

Relying on the mirror or vague "instinct" to assess your hard work, however, isn't an accurate measurement tool. Choose a better tactic to observe your ongoing progress. Initially assess and continually track to fully appreciate your results. Witnessing the true evolution of your body will help you learn to value your efforts and embrace your process.  

Thanks for reading, everyone. Are you looking for more ideas and support in building a fitness routine you can grow to love? See one of our expert fitness professionals and coaches today.

In health, Becca Hurt, MS, RD, Assistant Program Manager Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.
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