This is a copy of an article that I wrote for LinkedIn but the message applies equally to this time of year (not long after Easter) as it does in the New Year.......
Do you ever just exercise for the fun of it? Or is it laden with guilt as a chore you have to do because you've over indulged during this festive period? I honestly can't remember how I felt when I first started "keeping fit" as I began when I was just 11 years old by going out jogging with my father. But during my years as a personal trainer I came across many folk who paid me merely to make them "do it" as it was such an alien thing for them to be doing. And this time of year, business always boomed!
Actually doing something that you may not want to do but know that you need to do always boils down to "why?" Why do you want to exercise? When the "why?" is strong the "how?" is easy. The most motivated individuals I ever trained were those who had been told by the doctor that they needed to ....or else. These people were far more committed than those who wished to have a bikini body. The bikini body just fell into the category of "it would be nice if". "It would be nice if " doesn't cut it when the going gets tough. Ask yourself "if it doesn't happen does it matter?" Those told to exercise by their doctor answered with a resounding "yes definitely!"
So does this mean then that if our reason why isn't strong enough we won't stick with the exercise plan? Well yes ..... and no. Yes, if we solely focus on the outcome. If the results don't happen fast enough or we fall off the wagon, we lose motivation to continue. But no, if we focus on the journey, the activity, the exercise itself. This is the missing piece of the puzzle. What if we focus on how much fun we are having while we are exercising instead of seeing it as a painful chore we have to do to get to where we want to be?
Having a goal to enjoy the exercise itself involves taking a long term approach that is exercising for life not just until the beach holiday or wedding. This means taking a more gradual route instead of crashing and burning.
Every New Year, many people jump on the latest fitness craze to get a quick result. Social media is awash with punishing "insanity boot camp" style workouts where the concept of very high intensity exercise done in the shortest possible time is sold as the way to shed pounds. Maybe these are okay if you're very fit already and under 30... but the thought of all those burp-pees and squat thrusts makes me want to eat a creme egg (they're in the shops at New Year aren't they?). For the more mature folk among us ..ahem .. we can find ourselves back at the chiropractor and it is game over.
So instead of the "no pain no gain" mantra how about "by enjoying the movement, I'll make some improvement" (that's mine..yes I just made that up!). Find an activity that you love to do, something that raises your heart rate a bit and involves all the large muscle groups and do more of it. Gradually do it more frequently, gradually do it more vigorously and gradually do it for longer. Finally, be mindful as you exercise. Be there. Be in the moment. Focus on the joy of being able to move. Notice your breathing, your sweating, your surroundings. Pretty soon you will find you've developed the exercise for life habit and will still be going strong long after the New Year resolutions have faded away ..because you're enjoying yourself! Your body has to last so remember .... exercise is for life not just a six pack.
I am an exercise4happiness specialist. Forget the bikini body or the 6 pack, exercising to feel good is where it's at! Join me in my adventures in happiness, on the bike, in the studio, or in the classroom and I will infect you with my enthusiasm to get out there and be active too! You will feel good, I promise you.