I never really liked sports as a child. I found them to be boring and confusing. But I loved playing with my friends, and I loved to run in short bursts. This was when “exercise” was actually fun.
When I turned 18, I joined my first gym in Brooklyn and was hooked. I bought a discman, made CDs with my favorite tunes and bought the most expensive pair of gym pants before Lululemon was a thing. I thought it was extremely fun to work out. I adored it. And prancing around in my fancy pants was a solid bonus.
One year later, I started reading about exercise. Everything I read said that I needed to run, lift weights and push myself to the limit – or I wouldn’t get “results.” All of a sudden I realized that nothing had changed (on the outside) since I joined the gym the year before. So I started running.
It felt fun at first, so I started running faster and for longer periods of time. I lost weight and got in shape. But I got to a place where I had to consistently run more and more to keep it up.
Exercising became harder because the joy and happiness were completely stripped out, replaced with a full-on mission to “get strong and get fit”.
I thought I might die on the elliptical from unhappiness, but I thought I had to stay on it because how else would I keep up my new fit body? So I continued to exercise from this flawed mindset.
Years later, I was out on a hike and broke my ankle. I felt like it was all over. It terrified me to think about what life would look like without constant exercise. It seemed like the worst thing that ever happened to me – but it turned out to be the best. The injury caused me to wake up and reevaluate my relationship with exercise.
I work with a lot of people that can’t get into a consistent routine with exercise. They try. It works briefly. Then they stop doing it. They know, logically, that exercise is good for them, but it’s a pain in the butt.
I had the opposite problem. My relationship to exercise was consistent but powered through force and misery. And in the end, I injured myself and couldn’t move for months.
Can you relate to either scenario?
Today I’m sharing this post with you because I want you to get into a feel-good relationship with exercise – one that sticks with you forever. Here are a few tips to help:
Only a small number of people can work out and gain muscle right away. Some people may lose weight from starting a new exercise routine, but eventually, that will taper off. For most people, especially women, not much changes on the outside. You don’t gain much muscle and you don’t lose much weight. Raise your hand if you feel like this is you!
Here’s the problem: when we don’t see results we become discouraged, making it easy to give up and stop exercising. The one thing exercise can promise you is: moving your body enhances your quality of life.
Try this: Make a list of five things that you hope will happen if you start moving your body – but take weight loss and muscle gain out of the picture.
For example, endorphins make me feel fantastic, so I set a goal to move my body to feel the natural high of endorphins flowing. If I’m exercising in nature I feel connected to mother earth, which helps me become more creative, so I set a goal to move my body to feel creative. My goals are always more productive when I imagine how I will feel in my body.
The talk around town is that walking does not count as “real” exercise because it’s slow. Please understand that intense weight lifting and quick, hard workouts are a fairly new way for us humans to move our bodies. We didn’t have this stuff for most of human evolution. So guess what? You don’t need to do it if it’s not your thing. I’m giving you permission to find a way to move that you adore!
If you adore walking, then walk. Yes – walking counts! And so does cleaning your house. If it’s hiking, then get out there. If you love what you are doing, you will stick with it for the long haul.
Your mindset is everything. I once had a client who was a gym junkie: five days a week, every week. In one of our sessions she told me that she would never step foot in the gym if it were up to her. The only reason why she did it was because she was trying to lose weight. Needless to say, she wasn’t losing weight and she wasn’t happy. She felt like the gym was a jail.
Our culture has become obsessed with weight loss on every level. It has caused us to strip away something that could be so sacred and precious – moving our bodies just to move. Your thoughts are so powerful that a negative mindset can actually put your body in a state of stress and that’s the last thing you want when you are trying to alleviate stress.
We all need to exercise so we can live healthy, vibrant, beautiful lives. But let’s do it in the most effective way. Before you move your body, be sure to check in with yourself. Are you in a space of self-love? Great, go have fun! If you are not, hold up. Love yourself first, and then decide to move.
Now that you’ve got some tips for finding a healthier and more fun relationship with exercise, I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to move your body? How will you plan on putting this insight into practice in your daily life? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.