Smutty Fitness: Learning to enjoy exercise
I was out shopping on a break yesterday and as I was dressed in my work attire (which most days consists of running pants, a tank top and a running shirt) so it was pretty easy for the girl at the store to recognize me as an athletic trainer. When I was paying for my purchase she said to me “I have one question for you. How do you force yourself to exercise everyday?” Without even thinking I quickly responded with “I don’t. I love to exercise and I never have to force myself to do it”.
I thought about that question a bit more throughout the day and I realized that this is a big problem, people feeling as though they are forcing themselves to exercise. This is a shame because making my body sweat is something that I look forward to most days of the week. If you are someone who has to drag yourself to the gym or force yourself to get outside for a run more often than you look forward to a workout you need to change how you perceive health and wellness and start focusing on the positives that are associated with taking care of yourself. (Lainey: that would be me.)
I would be lying if I said that I have never had to force myself to go for a workout because there are days when my couch looks much more inviting than my running shoes but I always take a moment to figure out why I am feeling that way. Am I just being lazy? Do I need a change in my routine? Or is my body telling me that I am tired and I need a rest. More often than not, I am just being lazy or I am bored of my routine but the odd time my body is saying it is tired so I rest and I do not harbour any guilt for missing a workout. However, if it is because I am feeling lazy that day I simply remind myself how good I feel after a workout and get myself moving.
If you find that you are constantly battling with not wanting to go for a workout I have this advice for you:
Ask yourself if you enjoy the activities that you are doing. If not, find something that you like to do! Not everyone has to LOVE running or going to a boot camp class but I do not know many people who dread a walk with friends or a loved one after a long day in the office. Try new things -- cycling classes, water aerobics, hiking or a dance class as life is too short to spend it doing something that you do not enjoy. I am someone who simply loves sweating so I will do anything that makes me sweat, however getting out in the forest is my favourite way to unwind after a long day and it does not matter if I am on a mountain bike, in hiking boots or running shoes.
Commit to meeting a friend and exercising together. This is one of my favourite tricks to help me stay consistent with my own training. Currently I am training for the Seattle Marathon which is in November and I have to do a 27km run this weekend and the weather is calling for pouring rain. I know that come Saturday morning my warm apartment and a cup of coffee is going to be much more inviting than running outdoors in the cold, so I have committed to meeting a friend who is also training for a race and running together…this way neither one of us can back out. On many occasions both I and whomever I have committed to meeting have both said that we would not be out doing this if we had not committed to each other. Try to find an event that you can train for with friends, such as an obstacle course race or a running relay race. I have been on a 100km relay team for 7 years now and every year we have a blast training for and competing in the race. Doing things like this with friends creates camaraderie and a goal that you can work towards together.
My last piece of advice is change up your intensity of your workouts throughout the week as you do not have to have your butt kicked every single time you exercise. Yes, it is important to be challenged and work hard but having a workout that you know you will enjoy is important. Make sure you plan an activity at least two times a week that makes you feel more energized when you are finished than when you started. As a treat I allow myself to turn my usual 10km trail run into a long hike, which is a completely different type of workout but just as good. Maybe for you it is your Monday night yoga class that gets your away from your kids and allows you to relax or perhaps it is your Sunday morning long slow run with your girlfriends that finishes with a coffee at your favourite java spot.
Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are gifts that only you can give yourself. Learn to enjoy it and find ways to make it fun because it should be something that brings you joy, not misery. (Ok, sometimes it should be miserable…but even that can be kind of fun, right?)