Exercise Reengineered

When you hear the word, “exercise,” what comes up for you? This is what used to come up for me:

  • It’s a hassle.
  • It’s too time-consuming.
  • It will hurt.
  • I won’t be good at it. 
It’ll just remind me that I’m not an athlete.
  • I have to do it to make up for all the junk I just ate.
  • It has to be intense or it won’t count.
  • I can’t enjoy it or I won’t get results.
  • People will look at my fat.
  • I can’t hide in workout clothes and they make me feel frumpy.
  • It won’t be effective enough to even put a dent in my thighs.

Here’s the problem with this line of thinking. Usually the only positive thought you can muster is the thought of being done after having accomplished something that was awful, painful, a hassle, time-consuming, awkward, intense, boring and demoralizing.

When you think of exercise in this way… it’s part of a larger “diet mentality” where metaphorically, you’re fighting in the corner of a mental boxing ring while food and exercise outnumber you in the other corner, gloves on and ready to punch. Ouch!

When you think of exercise in this way…you’re also likely to start to argue and negotiate with “exercise.”

 “If I run 3 miles, 3x this week, I better lose a few pounds or else…”

And when you think of exercise in this way…it often encourages you to continue berating yourself while at the same time, reinforcing that you can only be happy when you’re thin because you’re hating yourself while exercising and trying to lose weight and you’re hating yourself for being overweight in the moment. Good times, huh? NOT!

STOP! IN THE NAME OF LOVE (…before you break my heart!)

It’s time to wave the white flag in that boxing ring because after all, why the heck are we fighting with ourselves? Isn’t life hard enough? Make friends with the opposition so these perceived sides of you can be united in your pursuit of ultimate health and happiness! Here are some tips on how to make friends with exercise.

Try these new thoughts on for size for just one week. Think of it as an adventure, a mental field trip if you will. You can go back to the battle afterwards with no judgement if that’s what you prefer, but just give these tips a whirl, notice with curiosity what changes for you and then after the one week, decide what to keep and what to ditch.

  1. Try on a new hat – Think of exercise as something you could possibly like and sit on that thought for a while. Answer the question, “How can I make exercise something fun and something I enjoy?” Really think beyond the step class, the aerobics class and the Jane Fonda VHS!
  2. Rock your mindset – One of the more entertaining ways to change a mindset is to take the desired result and start acting, “as if.” If you loved to exercise, what would you do? What thoughts would you think? How would you feel? (Sometimes it’s fun to pretend you’re an Olympic athlete and answer these same questions.)
  3. Bring on the joy – This is based on the assumption that you let yourself do something you may actually find joyful! 😉 What if you let go of any tortuous, vigorous methods and let your weekly exercise be walking, yoga, Pilates, gardening or dancing. What if you put a fun class like Zumba on the top of your to do list because you just deserve to have fun?
  4. Do the unthinkable – Consider leaving the heart monitor, the pedometer and the itunes at home and see if exercise could possibly turn into a form of mindfulness and possibly meditation. Let go of any woo-woo fear factor, get in nature and just think, and appreciate the trees, the smells, the sounds, how things feel and think about whatever comes to mind. You’ll be utterly surprised to find that you’re likely to come up with your most creative ideas, solve problems and experience eureka moments when you allow yourself to have this time.
  5. Do it only if it’s fun – So if you’re running for example, the second it doesn’t seem fun or pleasurable, walk, or even sit. Relax. No one is cracking a whip. Notice, what it’s like to not feel a whip.
  6. End the negotiations – Don’t make demands on what exercise will give you or what it will owe you. Avoid the thinking that if I exercise then I better lose weight. Think of exercise as your friend so ask yourself, would I make these kinds of demands with any of my other friends? “I enjoy exercise and exercise enjoys me!”
  7. Gift yourself – At the same time, appreciate and think of exercise as the most beautifully packaged gift for yourself, no strings attached, packed with goodies that make you feel good, that clear up your thinking, that make your body move with ease, that connect you with a fire hose of confidence, self-love and mojo. And this isn’t a gift exchange. You don’t owe it anything. It’s there for you whenever you want it and it’s not selfish to accept it either. It’s for you.
  8. Reinvent – If after hearing or saying the word, “exercise” you still find that you break out in a rampant rash, consider renaming it to something that’s more neutral in your world. Perhaps something like, “I’m going to drink in life” or “I’m getting some soul power.” Get creative!
  9. Keep it real – Honor your values. If getting exercise in daily is high on your list, make it a morning date. (Notice I didn’t say appointment, because a date is so much more fun!) When we respect our values daily, we pack our spirit with high octane fuel and then nothing can stop us.

Remember. Really notice how your feelings and your experiences change. These tips can redefine not only what exercise means to you, but it can also help to reposition exercise as an act of self-care vs. a form of self-beating and learning how to love and care for yourself is absolutely one of the essential keys to permanent weight loss.

Now go on with your great self and show the world how beautiful you are!


5 Comments

  1. I agree, Maureen; if you find an exercise, or activity, boring, then find something that interests you and keep with it:)

    jonwatersauthor.com

  2. Thanks Jon! I agree with you too. Life’s too short for “boring” in my book 😉

  3. Very true Maureen, life is too short!

  4. Love this article!

  5. Maureen O'Sullivan

    Thanks Irene! It always brings me joy to know that others may find value in what I’ve got to share. I aim to please! 😉

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