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"How to Make Exercising Enjoyable: Tips to Banish the Dreaded Four-Letter Word"

We all know exercising is great for us, but we often fall into the camp of "I don't have time!" I don't have 5 hours a week for the gym, I am too tired, I hate to break a sweat, or any other negative thought we have about it. A simple mindset shift of "I get to" instead of "I have to" can be the catalyst needed for loving movement again.

Exercise does not have to look the same for every person. Many of us fall into the "all or nothing" trap. If we can't make it to the gym 5 days this week, why bother?? We find ourselves sabotaging our efforts before we even get started. What if we only make it to the gym once this week on Saturday morning? That is great! It is one more time than you went last week! Give yourself kudos for the steps and efforts you did take.

How to beat the all-or-nothing mindset:

1. Starting small and giving yourself a reasonable goal leads to sustainability and consistency. Pick something you know you can do! A 10-minute walk, 3 times a week? Perfect, start there. Create confidence around your goal and the ability to achieve your goal.

2. Create an environment and cues to help achieve your goal. Set out your running shoes, put on your sports bra, and schedule it into your calendar. "Show up" and begin to create an identity of someone who exercises.

3. Think about how you feel before, during, and after your exercise session. Note and jot down what mental, physical, and emotional feelings you had. Focusing on your feelings will help create a repeatable intrinsic factor and feeling.

4. Keep the promise to yourself. Show your mind and body that you can be trusted to commit to a personal goal and follow through on it. Build the resiliency muscle and make you a priority.

The all-or-nothing mindset tends to translate into the guilty mindset. Feeling guilty because you did not meet your unrealistic expectations, guilt for failing, or guilt for feeling you are not worth it and should not have even tried.

How to beat the guilty mindset trap:

1. Explore your negative mindset. Would reframing your feelings about not meeting your goals help? What about the exercise program did you like? What went well? What did not go well? What would you change this time around? Giving yourself grace, a curious mindset, and a willingness to try again will help conquer the feelings of guilt and shame.

2. We are not meant to be perfect, but we are meant to grow. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism that we use to feel safe, protected, and usually stuck! Give yourself credit for your intentions, and grace to try something new. When you understand most people aren't even looking at you, because they are too worried about themselves, guilt is a force that no longer has a place in your life.

Exercise is not punishment for a life lived. I remember the days of running miles to burn off the 6 Oreo cookies I ate the night before at 11:00 pm. We are not computers nor a simple math calculation where Calories in - calories burned = the Oreos are not hanging on my thighs! Our metabolism, lifestyle, and mental mindset are not designed to continue to punish ourselves. When focusing on how we feel after we exercise, or the benefits we get from it like more energy, the feelings of strength, and knowing the deposits we are putting into our health savings account, punishment for some Oreos if the farthest thing from our minds.

How to use exercise as part of a whole fulfilled life, and not punishment.

  1. Find a form of movement you enjoy and with people you enjoy. If you hate running, don't run. Walk, ride your bike, take a Zumba class, yoga, or anything you find enjoyable.

  2. Find small chunks of time to fit in movement—TV commercial breaks for push ups, air squats, or kid presses. 5 minutes of stretching every 2 hours.

  3. Walk laps around the soccer field, and find a 10 minute YouTube video for a quick weights workout.

  4. Find ways to implement movement into your day. It does not have to be a 1 hour weight room session. 45 seconds of air squats every hour is as effective as a 30-minute gym session.

  5. Walking counts! Choose ways to walk daily. Walk to the mailbox, park at the back of the parking lot, and choose the bathroom on the 5th floor. Make movement part of your life.

  6. Get outside!! Time in nature has been shown to improve our stress, our sleep, and not to mention our Vitamin D. Push your kids on the swings, chase them around the swing set, and make movement a part of their lives as well. They will sleep well, promise!

Our bodies are designed to move. The benefits of exercise include gut microbiome diversity, brain neuroplasticity, mood enhancers, energy boosters, improved mobility, balance, and strength.

As a personal trainer, I often get asked what is the best kind of exercise....the answer is

one you will do.

Follow along as I will convince you in the next article why picking up heavy things a couple of days a week is well worth your time!

You are meant to thrive!


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