You know how fitness trainers, aerobic instructors or your fitness freak friends say “Working out is fun!” and you roll your eyes and look at them like they’re nuts? That is the exact same expression I give to my accountant when she tells me “Our tax appointment is going to be fun!!” She tries. She really does. She offers cocktails. She greets me for every meeting with a hug and doesn’t let me leave without another one. She LOVES numbers and is the perkiest CPA with a master’s degree I’ve ever met. Still, showing up for my tax appointment instills dread in me like doing the Presidential Physical Fitness Test used to when I was a child.
You may feel the exact same way when it comes to exercise: You know you need to do it, but would rather do just about anything else. Here are a few things you can do to reframe your thoughts and feelings about exercise:
- LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE. There are a lot of things you make yourself do on a daily basis you may not enjoy: cleaning, going to the grocery store, or writing that quarterly report. You do them because you understand how important they are and the negative consequences if you don’t. Stop for a minute and think about why you’ll exercise anyway. You’ll have better energy to give to the people and things that are essential in your life. You’ll feel great about yourself. You’ll sleep better. You’ll be more resilient to stress. You may live longer and have the ability to accomplish important life-long goals.
- REDEFINE “EXERCISE”. Exercise is often defined as going to the gym and getting on a piece of torture exercise equipment. If you do like going to the gym but have gotten bored with it, why not mix it up with the energy of group class? If you hate the gym, don’t go! Step outside and go for a walk or run. Do it with a friend. Are there sports you enjoy? Tennis? Basketball? Find a flight of stairs and go up and down. Put on some good music and dance your face off. Black Eyed Peas or Tina Turner always does it for me.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIKE IT. I think there’s a misconception that regular exercisers always love to do it. Guess what? They don’t. I don’t. I’m not always passionate about the actual act of exercising. In fact, I occasionally dread it. I don’t count down the minutes to discomfort, panting, and burning muscles. I’d prefer not to set the time aside and would much rather be doing something else. What I am extremely passionate about is personal integrity. I made a commitment to myself and I followed through with it. I said I was going to do something (exercise) and I did it. I feel amazing afterward for doing something for myself that improves who I am as a person – as a mother, a spouse, a professional. It’s integrity. I choose to hold myself responsible.
- SIGN UP FOR A CHARITY EVENT. Shift the focus onto helping deserving charity organizations. Sign up for a fund raising walk, fun run, 5K, or bike event and make it about training and exercising for the greater good. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet new, like-minded people.
- INCORPORATE IT INTO OTHER ACTIVITIES. Instead of setting aside “official exercise time”, find ways to blend exercise into your daily activities. Walk your 18 holes of golf instead of driving the cart, do a few of your errands on bike instead of driving, walk your pet instead of letting it out the back door to do its business, stand and work at your desk instead of sitting, do yard work – rake, mow or shovel, do a few body weight exercises during commercial breaks like sit-ups, push-up, squats or lunges, and always take the stairs when it’s an option.