It’s happened to all of us at some time or another. Some of us started out there (yes that would be me). You have your gear, the kids are sorted, you had the very best of intentions, but the motivation is just not there. Regardless of whether you consider this inability to get to the exercise class, or out on the footpath is due to a lack of motivation, burnout, or disinterest, the truth of the matter is that it’s not helping you. Every where you look there are countless articles, books, magazines, and “fitness” gurus talking about how clean eating (we won’t even go there!), consistent exercise, and quality sleep (or just some sleep..) are fundamental to reach your fitness goals. If you’re feeling negativity towards exercise and despite your very best efforts its not improving you’re most likely missing one crucial element. Enjoyment.
Exercise Should Never Be Just Another Chore (You Have Enough Already!!)
While there are a few incredibly motivated individuals who can push themselves to get up and get going every time (insert #fitspo) – the rest of us are mere mortals. If you’re constantly pushing yourself through exercise sessions that you don’t enjoy – or not even getting there at all, it’s inevitable that your exercise program will very will quickly feel like yet another thing you have to do. Rather than just another thankless task to cross off your to-do list (we all have enough of those in our lives thank you very much), the goal is to always make your exercise something you look forward to. A shift in perception can sort this out. If your motivation to exercise is because you dislike the current “state” of our body or physical appearance, stop now. Instead rephrase this thought into “I’m exercising because I love my body and want to look after it and make it feel better.” Then anything you do is a bonus.
Even just this tiny shift can make physical activity immeasurably more pleasurable. All the other things on your to-do list – groceries, bills, house work, homework, work etc are there because they simply need to get done. Exercise is on your list because you’ve decided it’s important for you. Think about why you decided to started exercising in the first place, and get reinspired by that.
Immediately after reframing your thinking on physical exercise, it’s time for you to decide what you really enjoy and turn your routine into a habit. Forget any activity if you are only there because everyone else is raving about it, only to discover that you’re gazing at the clock and contemplating how rubbish it is. If you force yourself to particpate in an exercise class/program/activity that you think you ought to be doing, and you don’t end up having fun in it, the dread of the next session will certainly hinder your progress. That dread will quickly become an excuse to miss your exercise, which will lead to a lack of motivation. And probably guilt – don’t even get me started on guilt. There is no rule book of exercise that states you must do a spin class. The only real must is that you find something that is enjoyable for you. Then you will experience the good things that exercise has to offer:
- stress relief
- reduced anxiety
- time for you
- improvements in your strength/flexibility/fitness
- and maybe a little sweat (if that what works for you).
Take time to give new (to you) and different exercise strategies a go. You will find one or some that work for you! Think dance classes, Zumba, yoga (and there are a whole lot of different types of that – I’m loving Bikram with my 15 year old son), do a circuit class, go for a swim, do a foam roll class, lift weights, go for a walk! When you know some of the things that work for you, try them on rotation. Walk with your friends on Sundays, try a swim on Monday, lift weights on Wednesdays, and go to Bikram yoga on Fridays. Implementing a varied exercise routine will help keep your body guessing, create a regular schedule and give you will have a few things to look forward to throughout the entire week.
Physical exercise doesn’t need to be a chore. Just take the time to find out what works best for you. When you discover what that is, whatever it may be, then is the time to focus and stick with it. If you notice that you have stopped looking forward to one of your chosen activities then try something totally new. Fitness is always evolving and you will find always new activities that you can try!
Trish is a physiotherapist and lawyer who works in our team keeping things running. As a mother of four boys she has a pretty good idea about how hard it can be to look after yourself and prioritise your own needs. But you can, and you should. She is going to try really hard to take her own advice. If you are just returning to exercise, you should to chat to your GP first. If there is a niggle that is slowing you down have a chat to one of our physios. They are quite clever.