Does the word “exercise” fill you with dread, drudgery and, for some of us, feel as though a form of torture? Somewhere, sometime, some of us decided that exercise was something that we hated. It is a dreadful thing that has to be suffered through to get back into shape and maintain our weight loss. A punishment to pay because our bodies have betrayed us with excess weight. As far as motivation to exercise, there is an inner recording going in our head filled with “should’s” and “have to’s.” If this sounds like you, no wonder exercise becomes so loathsome and avoided.
I’ve had health challenges this year that have greatly diminished my activity level. I have a herniated disc in my neck which has been horribly painful. I was an exercise hater, dreader, “gotta do it or else” exerciser. Now that I’ve been so physically limited, I look forward to exercise. Rather than a “have to,” I will consider it a “get to” thus changing my mindset forever.
Sedentary people have a particular view of the regular exerciser: They work out religiously. They never get discouraged. They never, ever have to overcome excuses to not exercise. Often, non-exercising people view regular exercisers with contempt. Why should they even be exercising — after all, they’re already skinny.
In reality, even long term, regular exercisers don’t meet their goals all the time. Nearly everyone in this hurried society faces conflicts with time, energy, careers, children, spouses, friends and relatives, households to run, holidays, and so on. There’s a ton of legitimate excuses that each person has to overcome: “It’s too hot, or too cold. It’s raining. It’s too late, or too early. There’s too much work to be done. I’m tired. I don’t feel like it . . .” Everyone, including the regular, thin of us, struggles with these thoughts.
There are many differences between the active and the inactive. One main distinction is that regular exercises have strong internal reasons to overcome their limitations, while sedentary people have mostly external reasons. In other words, the regular exercisers keep at it because they achieve a sense of enhanced psychological well being. Exercise makes them feel good. Instantly. If the feelings you obtain by regular exercise were available in a pill, it would be in constant demand. By contrast, the main motivation for inactive people is “weight loss.” Active people are compelled by the internal benefits they will derive in the here and now. Inactive people are driven by future hopes and dreams of weight loss. The problem is, weight loss won’t happen overnight, or even in the next week. Without seeing the benefits of weight loss quickly enough, sedentary people are not likely to stick with exercise.
For a sustained level of motivation, you need internal reasons to exericse beyond weight loss. Begin shifting your perceptions of movement from something that you have to do to lose weight or change your body, to more immediate gratifying internal factors:
* Instant gratification of enhanced psychological well-being * To move your body feels good * Social aspects of exercise (work out with a friend or trainer) * Stress reduction * A deeper, better connection with your body * Better, deeper quality of sleep * Relaxation * Eating better * Opportunity to be outside * Breathing fresh air * Thinking clearer * Movement is something you want to do (not something you should do)
Another main difference is that active people expect fitness to be fun, while inactive people dread the event. Of course, it you haven’t been active in a while, it may take a while for exercise to feel good. It’s normal that you’ll be out of shape, out of breath, and have a tendency to get sore if you overdo it.
So how do you take an activity that’s foreign and give it a positive spin? Go slow and don’t overwork things in the beginning. Treat your body gently and with loving kindness. Find ways to focus on the IMMEDIATE payoffs of the exercise itself, such as feeling better, learning new skills, or having fun, or better yet — reward yourself. Collect your data and chart your progress on a computer spread sheet. Develop a daily, weekly, and monthly reward list. Get a tape recorder and stroke yourself with “Yes I can” messages. Pay yourself, and enlist others to contribute to your fund. Our partners are always asking how they can help us achieve our goals, so involve them somehow in the process. Exercise with others. Mostly, make it enjoyable!
Believe In Yourself, Cathy, CLC Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach Certified Back On Track Facilitator