Most of us struggle with finding motivation to maintain consistent exercise due to the fact that, well, we just don’t enjoy it.
That’s why Erin Risius, our Program Director here at Green Mountain, decided to respond to a journal written by Beth, one of our past participants, about struggling with enjoying her exercise routine.
It’s a conspiracy.
All those medical websites and runner magazines talking about the “endorphin high” after exercise. I think it’s a load of crap and I, for one, am not fooled by all that nonsense about the health benefits of endorphin release – from mood elevation to healing properties to pain management.
Nope, I aint buyin’ it. Okay, I feel a sense of achievement after having exercised, but I get a sense of achievement after I have my teeth cleaned, too; that doesn’t mean I look forward to it or enjoy it.
I am committed to exercising every day and so I dress in my work-out clothing as soon as I get up. See, now I’m stuck in my house until I get to the treadmill in my basement.
Afterward, I can shower, put on big-girl clothing and go about my day, but until I get those 40 minutes on the torture mill out of the way, I am housebound.
Procrastination from the “Torturemill”
There it sits, just waiting for me, calling to me “Get your ass down here, chicky. You know you want to”.
See, but I don’t really want to. I need to, I will push myself to, and I will be grateful that I did afterward, but I am not rushing through my morning coffee to gleefully hop down the steps and go play in the basement.
Okay, treadmill, I hear you and I will get to you, really I will…. but first I should throw in a load of wash.
And do some ironing
And clean out the refrigerator
And re-organize my shelves
And scrub the grout in the bathroom floor, clean the gutters, rewire a lamp and sweep out the garage.
Related Article: How Much Exercise is Enough?
Then, when I’ve exhausted just about every job I can think of (does my car need the oil changed?) I will head downstairs and dutifully put in some time on the treadmill. Every other day, I do some weight lifting.
I have also sworn off the elevator or escalator and no longer hunt for the closest parking space to the Superfresh. The back of the lot is just fine.
So here’s what I know:
I know that I will exercise every day and not because I love doing it but because I know that I will feel good about the accomplishment afterward, and I will enjoy the results of a healthier body.
Is that endorphins at work? Maybe, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m feeling healthier (and my house is ready for a spread in Town and Country).
Do those shutters need painting?
– Beth Turchi
Advice For Finding Enjoyable Exercise
Exercising without enjoyment is like eating food we dislike – it feels punitive and eventually we’ll end up avoiding it altogether.
The fact that you still hop on the ‘torturemill’ despite the dread of it speaks to the positive benefits you notice from at least the end result of moving your body daily, like the sense of accomplishment you mention.
Related Article: Healthy Weight Attitudes: Exercise That Feels Good
However, for most of us exercise will eventually end up last on a long list of priorities and then OFF that list altogether unless we bring enjoyment back into the experience.
The F.I.T.T. Principle
When Green Mountain participants admit they ‘hate exercising’ I find that when we break it down it’s one of four (or all) components that are contributing, which are: Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.
We call this the F.I.T.T. Principle and each person will be unique in what works for them in each of these categories, but it helps in discerning what area(s) may be contributing to the experience of ‘hating’ ‘exercise.
For example, ask yourself:
Do you hop on the treadmill every day, or do you take rest days?
Do you keep your exercise intensity in a range that enables limited conversation or is it a suffer-fest for 40 minutes? Or are you bored and under-challenged?
Do you allow yourself to vary the time spent on the treadmill – or is it always 40 minutes and all at once (instead of two 20 minute sessions for example)?
Do you mix up your cardio and add a variety and/or take your walk outdoors for scenery and fresh air (now that winter is over)?
Varying your routine with the frequency and duration – and then especially the type of exercise will help to insert some joy into the mix. Is there any type of movement that you enjoy – such as dancing or biking, or yoga – that would help to spice up your exercise routine?
Often tweaking one or more of these areas helps to get us out of the dreaded exercise as a means-to-an-end rut and into a more enjoyable experience.
Kudos to you for feeling the resistance and doing it anyway, but I’m hoping that you find the joy in movement: your body and mind will love you for it!