Ah, the old “I don’t want to…..” Remind you of anything? My mom would tell me to stop my whining. My friend Karen would say “Want some cheese with that “whine”?”! For most of us, we are over worked, stressed, or sleep deprived….or a combination of any of these or all of them! People generally look at exercising as a chore. Something you “have” to do. A drudgery. We all know it will benefit us so why is it so hard to do?
Our bodies were made to move. Back in the cave man days there wasn’t a choice. If you didn’t forage for your food, you starved. If you didn’t go to the spring to get water, you were thirsty. If you didn’t have firewood for a fire, you were cold….and I can pretty much guarantee that the limbs didn’t just fall out of the tree at our ancestors feet! They had to go find them and maybe even cut them down! It wasn’t like today where we have drive thru’s and microwaves. Instant everything (and what’s that stuff made of anyway?)! And one stop shopping. The thing is, we all forget that our bodies really haven’t changed…society has. Our bodies still function in the same ways they did way back then but as time goes on and we move less, it creates sickness. So how do we make ourselves want to work out?
Studies have shown that it’s how you “look” at exercise that determines whether it’s a chore or enjoyable. In one study, researchers gave women (most of them overweight) a map of a mile-long outdoor walking course and told them to walk for half an hour. Half of the women were told to think of the walk as exercise and monitor their exertion, the other half were told to enjoy the walk and listen to music. Both groups spent the same 30 minutes walking the same course, but only the exercising group felt grumpy and tired afterwards. And when they had lunch, the group who’d “exercised” consistently chose soda over water, desert over fruit, and ate far more calories than the other group.
In another study a group of men were told to walk the same mile loop. Again, half were told to “exercise,” while the other half walked for fun. After the walk, they were given plastic baggies, access to an unlimited bowl of M&Ms, and instructions to fill the bags with as many as they wanted. The group that “exercised” filled their bags with twice as much candy as the group that walked for fun.
In a third study, researchers offered a choice of snacks to a group of runners as they finished a relay marathon race. They could choose from a gooey chocolate bar or a “healthy” granola bar. They asked how they felt after the race and those who said the race had been difficult and unpleasant tended to choose the chocolate, while those who’d enjoyed the race usually chose the granola bar.
How we think of exercise will help us to be more successful. It all goes back to our thought process. What do we tell ourselves about exercise? Is it positive? Do we make it fun? Or is it another “have to” that we add to our daily grind. Try some of these suggestions to help you enjoy your workouts…..
- Go for a walk outside and really look at the scenery. Notice how blue the sky is, how pretty the flowers are, or how good the breeze feels on your face. Ok, so you say you live up north and it’s snow still covers the ground? Bundle up and head outside anyway! Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Hear the snow crunch under your feet, look at how pretty the snow looks on the branches of the barren tree, see if you can spot a cardinal in all that snow! ( I love to do that when it snows here!)
- Play music! It helps to keep your mind off what you are doing. Sing along!
- Pray! That’s one of my favorite things to do when I walk. That helps your mind and your body at the same time!
- Workout with a friend. You motivate each other and keep each other accountable. Make sure you choose someone who is positive minded like yourself to help with the positive thinking!
- Visualize where you want to be. Are there obstacles in your way? after identifying them you can figure out what you can do to overcome it and make a plan.
The key is to re-frame how you think about exercise. The power is in your mind! How you think about it is how it will be for you….drudgery or pleasure. It’s your choice.
Let me know if this was helpful for you. Any questions or suggestions? You can email me or leave a comment.