Resistant to Exercise? It May Be How You Think About It


exercising under a sundown sky

“I don’t want to go to my appointment with my trainer.”
“I hate walking.”
“I should go swimming, but I’d rather not.”

It is statements like these that take us down the slippery slope into inertia, funky feelings, “the pits”.  We can feel pressured, required, and “shoulded” to do what is good for us. So how do we get through the dread, specifically how it relates to exercise? How do we become less resistant to the idea?

One way to beat the dread that can obstruct you from reaching your goals is to create a shift in  thinking and figure out how to have fun with the activity that’s already part of your life or activities you would like to add.

Adding Intention and Attention to Activity

IN-tention is your desire to do something and AT-tention is noticing the behavior, acknowledging what is occurring.

 Intention = An aim that guides action

Attention = To notice, to be aware

Going to the gym to work out with your trainer can just feel like another chore, so instead of anticipating what you will hate about it, focus on what you like about the activity.

“How can I find more fun with this?”

“How can I take the should out of it?”

“How can I focus on how my body feels while I’m there?”

With intention you can move out of being stuck and feeling put upon into anticipating a surprise, the unexpected or something new.

Attention allows you to notice what is happening to your thoughts and feelings, or be aware of the pleasure it’s occurring. By attending you can celebrate the activity through the eyes of the intention you brought to it.

Does fitness feel like a chore? How can you use intention and attention to change the experience?

Photo by MayerColi

6 responses to “Resistant to Exercise? It May Be How You Think About It”

  1. I once listened to Dr. Michelle May give a talk about exercise. She posed the question “What is the least amount of exercise I can do joyfully today?” That was a powerful moment for me. Now I listen to my body, and trust that it will tell me how much and what kind of exercise it desires. PS: If it isn’t fun, I don’t do it.

  2. Julia says:

    This is great! I just wrote a post about resisting self-nurturance and being still within ourselves: why we seem to be on a go-go-go hamster wheel. I talked about bringing attention to our thoughts and attitudes towards ourselves, but I love how you gear this towards something that’s not so ooey-gooey self-help. Bringing intention and attention to our every day tasks, that certainly is part of practicing the meditative and self-witnessing I talked about and struggle to maintain.

  3. Fitness Gear says:

    I always have “intention” , but lack the “attention”. I can’t say that I always like how I’m feeling while exercising. I’m biking 20 miles and my “attention” is on wow, my legs are burning. Does this make me go bike tomorrow? Not quite so sure. So what do I like about it; I easily burn a thousand calories and now I can eat that piece of chocolate cake. I guess this is my intention vs. attention. Thanks for the awareness.

  4. Exercise became much more enjoyable and less of a chore for me once I shifted the focus from weight loss to other benefits (being out in the sun, my emotional well-being, the chance to be alone and think, keeping my body feeling healthy). Now I wake up in the morning and I look forward to putting on my shoes and going for a walk. And on the days when I just don’t feel up to it (maybe my feet are giving me trouble again or my toddler kept me up all night) I don’t feel bad. I know that I will get back to to it as soon as I can because it is something I truly enjoy.

  5. Deb says:

    I’ve tried heaps of different exercise over the years. At the moment I’m in an excellent routine as it fits all of the key factors for me: it’s handy and I don’t have to think about it (the gym is next door to my workplace and classes available during my lunchtime); and I choose classes I enjoy (like dance and Zumba).

    When I’m not at work I struggle to motivate myself to go out for a walk or do something, but as I’ve programmed it into my working day (I have appointments set up in my calendar) I don’t think twice.


  6. I think exercise will be a lot more fun if you choose an exercise that connects with who you are. Like, if you love to dance and want to shed off some weight through dancing, you can zumba your way to losing weight. If you love sports and want that as a way to lose weight, might as well consider swimming or biking or hiking. Performing an exercise that connects with who you are does not really feel like a chore because you like what you’re doing plus you’re having fun. I guess this matters most because you will have a huge chance of sticking to it in the long run.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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