Just saying the word, ‘exercise’ makes me cringe. As a health coach you’d think I’d be all into it. I’m not. I know it is good for me. But I still don’t like it. Maybe you feel the same.
This last year I have been making a come back from hypothalamus-adrenal-axis-dysfunction – commonly known as adrenal fatigue. I am a recovering perfectionistic, type-A personality and would tend to over-do everything and wear myself out in the process. Last year, I was even told by my Functional Medicine practitioner to cut out vigorous exercise during my recovery. I could walk and do yoga. I’ve been doing those.
Like so many people now facing their New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, I have found it hard to muster the motivation to get back to a more vigorous exercise routine or get to the gym. I don’t like going to the gym. Sure, you might see me in a class at the gym now and then. Classes do push me harder than I push myself, which is good and sometimes necessary.
When my kids were toddlers, I used to like to go to the gym. It gave me up to a two-hour break from the kids. I love my kids. But, the toddler years were challenging for me and I needed that break. There was a particular class at the gym that I totally rocked. It not only gave me a much needed mommy break, it made me feel strong, helped me get my pre-baby body back and release some of the angst I felt then.
I would run then too! I was doing about 10 miles a week. That was a big deal to me! I hated running. I was one of those people that wanted to put a 0.0 sticker on the back of her minivan while the other moms in carline proudly displayed their 13.1 and 26.2 stickers. But, there was this nature park with a beautiful 3-mile paved trail around a lake and through woods. I would put my headphones in and get pumped up and go! Being in nature, getting the endorphins flowing, felt great. I also felt close to God then because I would end up often using that time to reflect, pray and meditate on His word and what I was learning. Just thinking about those times, makes me long for them again. But, that was then. Now, in my late 40s, my knees don’t like that kind of pounding anymore.
Perhaps these five tips will help you keep going with your exercise resolution.
Shift your mindset
In addressing my lack of motivation, what I finally realized was that it was more in how I was viewing the gym or exercise than the gym or exercise itself. So, I began to reframe how I looked at it.
Shifting ones mindset about it makes a difference. Start saying to yourself, “It feels good to feel strong. It feels good to move. I love to exercise.” It takes time to retrain your brain so exercise doesn’t feel like a chore. However, if you keep saying you don’t like the gym or exercise, your brain hears that and wires to those words. It isn’t lying to yourself as much as getting your mind and body in sync through the words you tell yourself. Your body will align with your beliefs. If you keep telling yourself you hate going to the gym, you will hate going to the gym. If you tell yourself, I love going to the gym because it makes me feel stronger, then you will start to align with those words.
A Japanese scientist conducted a study where he talked to water molecules. One set he told the water it was beautiful, lovely, peaceful and set good thoughts and intentions when speaking to the water. He then froze the water and analyzed the crystals. They were symmetrical, organized and froze into beautiful snowflake shapes. Other water crystals he told them they were disgusting, worthless, no good. He froze them and they turned into jagged, disorganized shapes. Our bodies are about 78% water! Imagine if you started telling your body how great it was and how exercise made it feel great and it started listening to you and cooperating! Your words do have power and influence in how your brain wires and possibly how your body aligns and responds!
Make it fun
I will do things I enjoy. If going to the gym is a drain, find something else that gets you moving that you DO enjoy. I enjoy bike riding, walking on trails, being outside. I also enjoy yoga classes because I am not only strengthening and stretching but all I can focus on is what is happening in that moment. It is my form of self-care and exercise all in one! Maybe for you it is tennis, a Zumba class or walking the dog. Are you more likely to exercise with a friend? If you do something you enjoy doing, you are more likely to keep it up! Doing something you enjoy to stay healthy and get some exercise in will help you stick with it much longer than forcing yourself to do something you don’t like.
Identify internal and external motivators
When your desire to exercise wanes, remember WHY you are exercising. Is it to lose weight? If so, why? Dig deeper. What is the deeper motivation for wanting to be thinner? To feel better about yourself, increase your confidence at work to give that presentation? To make your husband take a second look, like he did when you first got married? Have the energy to play and spend time with the grandkids? What will you get out of it? What is the long-term goal and why is that important to you?
Post a reminder
When things get tough or motivation wanes, re-evaluating the big picture helps. It also helps to have a physical reminder in front of you of your end goal. Post it on your bathroom mirror, fridge or car dashboard. Remind yourself why you are driving to the gym. Somehow a physical item like a photo can jog your awareness back to the moment and help you keep going.
Take it a day at a time
When motivation wanes, focus on today. What can you do today? Don’t worry about how long it is taking you to lose weight or how long you’ll have to keep at it to reach your goal. Think of it as a daily choice. Feel empowered that you get to choose what you do today to help you reach your goals. You are the sum total of the little choices you make everyday. Find the strength within you that you can draw on today. Every little choice gets you closer to your goal. You have the power to choose.
So, I will continue my yoga class because I really do enjoy that time. I will stop saying I don’t like the gym and try other fun classes to reframe my view of that time. I want to feel stronger so I can enjoy skiing with my kids later this winter and kind of be able to keep up with them! They are getting older and there will be few family vacations like this left on my horizon. That time is so precious to me. That thought motivates me to lace up my tennis shoes. I get to choose to do these things that make me stronger! How blessed am I?!
Much of making healthy changes is our perspective. If you need a little help in shifting your thinking, staying accountable, and finding deeper motivations to keep you going. I offer a free 30-minute call. I’d be happy to talk about health coaching as a resource to help you reach your goals.