Do you dread your workouts? Do you view them as an obligation or chore? Or something that causes pain and discomfort?
Chances are if you do, you’re going to have a really hard time reaching your health and fitness goals, because the truth is – It is really hard to stay committed to anything that we view as negative, don’t enjoy, or believe is taking away from something else we value in our life.
As a nutrition and fitness coach, I see this all the time:
Maybe you have reached a point where you know you need to create change and start working out, so you buy that gym membership or enroll in that cycle class…you’re eager and excited by choosing to take action. But then reality sets in…this is much harder than you anticipated. You’re sore, the workouts are hard, you’re having to wake up earlier, and you don’t have the extra hour in the morning that you did before to get a head-start at work. Unfortunately, it is at this point that most people quit. You realize everything you are having to give up but haven’t yet started to see results. The quickest way to end the discomfort is to go back to the way things were before…and you’re back at square one. I call this point “the valley of despair” and it’s usually right around this time, if you were to keep going, you would have likely started to see the benefits of your actions bear fruit.
But what if, instead, you could change your mindset to see the benefits and find more fulfillment in your workouts right from the beginning and avoid “the valley of despair”? Based on my experience, if you are committed enough, you can! By adopting this new practice you’ll actually crave your workouts and get excited about getting the body you want – and the extraordinary life you deserve.
I have come up with 5 steps for how to actually ENJOY exercise long-term results:
- Change your beliefs about exercise. Want to learn how to get excited about your workouts and enjoy them more? It all starts with replacing negative beliefs with more empowering ones. Most of us carry around beliefs based on our identity or past experiences. If you hated P.E. class as a kid because you were once picked last for dodgeball, it’s likely that you developed the belief that working out is something to fear. Take time to examine the beliefs you carry regarding exercise: What are the negative beliefs you carry? Where did they come from? Are they true? Do you absolutely know that they are true? Do these beliefs serve you and your goals? Once you identify these negative beliefs you can then re-conceptualize these beliefs in a way that actually serves you.
- Adjust your focus. You may have trouble enjoying working out because you are focusing on only one outcome, like weight-loss. Having a weight-loss goal is perfectly fine, but if that is the only outcome you’re after it’s going to be hard to stay motivated, especially since it takes time to see results. When you instead focus on your life as a whole and the daily benefit it will get, you will start to view exercise as a benefit instead of an obligation. Some things you can try focusing on instead of the end-goal are: creating energy and productivity, releasing stress, and enhancing your life. From here, exercising starts to become a natural extension of taking care of yourself each day.
- Find the right type of workout. Do you like being outside or indoors? Do you like working out withfriends, on a team, or by yourself? Take time to think back to a time when you truly enjoyed physical activity. What made it so enjoyable? I know, personally, I hated working out when I was just going to the gym and hopping on the treadmill for 60 minutes, but I enjoy strength training with a friend! Your workouts should be something that you like, if it’s something you plan on doing long-term for health.
- Create the time to workout. It’s going to be really hard to enjoy your workouts if you feel rushed or if you are sacrificing other important parts of your life to get it in. Most people blame time and scheduling for their lack of exercise, but in reality, these excuses stem from limiting beliefs. You must create time to do the things you love and are important to you. When you realize you don’t have to cut out the things that are important to you to work out, you can learn how to enjoy exercise without feeling guilty. Also remember, any workout for any amount of time, at any time of the day is better than no workout!
- Create your motivation. I am a big believer that motivation is not given but created. You can create excitement and motivation through your environment and music! I love working out in a gym, because I am surrounded by other like-minded people on a similar mission that hype me up. Music is another motivating factor. In a study, they found that music increased enjoyment by 28% compared to those with no auditory stimuli and by 13% compared to those who listened to a podcast. Researchers concluded that because music elicited a more positive emotional state during exercise, music is a valuable tool for learning how to enjoy working out.
- Document your wins. There are many other metrics to measure change and success with working out beyond the number on the scale, like strength, work productivity, energy, changes in the mirror, or better sleep. By documenting your wins along the way, you’re more likely to reinforce the empowering beliefs you carry about exercise.
Rachel Scheer is a Certified Nutritionist who received her degree from Baylor University in Nutrition Science and Dietetics. Rachel has her own private nutrition and counseling practice located in McKinney, Texas. Rachel has helped clients with a wide range of nutritional needs enhance their athletic performance, improve their physical and mental health, and make positive lifelong eating and exercise behavior changes.