Discipline!, NO DAYS OFF, determination, gains, #fitfam, 'every damn day'….. sound familiar? If you follow fitness and nutrition “experts” on social media you may have come across some of the familiar tag lines along with some super cut or intense mirror selfie to motivate you to want to go to the gym and exercise. Does it work? Maybe. Does it make you enjoy your workout more? Probably not. Yes, I have posted similar Instagram pics, workout selfies and have even used some of the above hashtags- but I’m here today to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t force yourself to exercise if it’s not truly what you want to do.
“Wait, Amanda.. aren’t you suppose to be encouraging us to eat healthier and workout MORE!?”
Yes, eating healthier and being fit is something I will always encourage you to do. However, don’t forget about the “living well” part. Eating right, being fit and living well is a balanced approach to finding the things you enjoy that support a healthy lifestyle. When we force ourselves to do something we don’t want to do, a few things happen...
Our inner rebel will eventually come out. If you’ve followed restrictive diets or exercise plans in the past – you know what I’m talking about. After the initial motivation and energy has subsided your inner rebel starts to surface. It starts to feel GOOD to rebel against what you’re “suppose” to do. You can only ‘force’ yourself to do something you don’t enjoy for so long. Eventually you will rebel against going to the gym and in a weird way it’ll feel good.
We start to dread exercising in general by creating a negative association. When we force ourselves to do something we don't want to we start to view it as a negative. You’ll start to resent the fact that you “have to work out.” Exercise can eventually become this dreadful thing that you HAVE to do instead of something you choose to do because you enjoy it. Which is the last thing we want.
We forget the reasons of WHY we exercise in the first place and lose touch with any positive experience or feelings that can come with a good sweat sesh. When we don't value the things we do we will quickly deprioritize it in our very busy lives. Let’s be honest taking even 30 minutes out of our day can take some planning and effort on our end. If you don’t value it you’re not going to prioritize it.
Exercise becomes something you do for others, not yourself. When exercise becomes something you “have to do” because that’s what “they” say you should- it becomes less about you and more about others. Even leading us to compare ourselves to the others in the gym and seeing how we measure up- sometimes not the most positive experience.
So what do we do?? Give up on the working out altogether? Definitely not! Exercise and moving our bodies is so incredibly important for our health, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and mentally feeling great from those feel good hormones that get released. The key here is focusing on the activity that you truly enjoy and taking it one step at a time. If it’s been a few months since you’ve had a workout don’t pressure yourself to get a 90 minute workout in – start with 15 minutes. And if you HATE running don’t force yourself to hop on the treadmill. Making exercise apart of your lifestyle means finding the activities that you enjoy and look forward to doing for time that you enjoy doing it for. If that means jumping rope for 5 minutes- great! When you start enjoying the workout you’ll start doing it more often and for a longer amount of time -eventually just becoming part of what you do and dare I say truly look forward to.
Now, there are certainly times that I force myself to physically get to the gym. I see that as something different. Some mornings at 530am the STRUGGLE IS REAL but I know once I get there it feels so great. I know as long as I get myself there I will feel great. What also helps is knowing that when I get there I can do whatever I want and leave at whatever point I want. The moment it gets boring or uninteresting, or my body just isn't feeling the way it should- I leave. I never FORCE myself to do more than what feels really good and enjoyable. I rarely workout for over an hour and most times I’m getting an intense 30-40 minute workout and that’s it. Knowing that I have the power to chose makes it easier for me to get myself there. Sometimes I’ll leave after 20 minutes because I reached a point where I’m just not feeling it- no big deal because I know I’ll get another at least 20 minutes tomorrow. AND I feel good about those 20 minutes- not disappointed I didn't get a full 60 minutes in (this is an important part). Feel good about each and every minute you took the time to move your body and do something good for yourself.
Choose the exercises you enjoy and do it for however long you enjoy it for. I promised this will create a healthier and more positive relationship with working out. Start small and start slow. It's all about the lifestyle approach, not the quick fix!
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