Written by Patti Williams Health Coach
Before you even step foot in a gym, consider this…
Do you even like exercise?
Like, really. If you stop and think about it, do you consider exercise to be a time consuming, inconvenient, sweaty, smelly and overall painful experience? If this sounds familiar, please take off the activewear and step away from the kettlebell. This New Year-sy phase isn’t going to last.
You’ve missed a very important step. One that’s often overlooked but it’s actually easier than a HIIT session AND will give you the stamina you need to turn exercise into a long term habit.
You see, the body is a reflection of your mind. And if you’ve been telling yourself that exercise if fundamentally painful, as soon as those squat reps get a bit tough and the discomfort sets in, giving up will start to look very appealing. You convince yourself that you’ve done enough for today and if you have to, you’ll double your set tomorrow. But…tomorrow’s workout never comes because you get busy and tired and besides, yesterday’s workout was pretty pointless anyway.
It’s a slippery slope where the survival part of your brain, the amygdala, takes over and the prefrontal cortex, the rational and cognitive part of your brain, is silenced – the part where you logically made a choice to start exercising in the first place.
It’s not you. It’s just how your brain is wired; to protect you from pain and move towards pleasure. You’re fighting against evolution here!
So what can you do to turn exercise into a pleasurable experience? Simply re-frame your perspective.
Start telling yourself a different story. One that highlights all the beautiful aspects of working out – the mindfulness, the muscle-building, the strength and flexibility. The camaraderie if you’re doing it with a friend and how it feels to walk up a flight of stairs without getting puffed. Don’t stop until it completely overrides the old and limiting story you’re currently telling yourself.
With clients, I even get out pen and paper and we list as many benefits of daily exercise we can think of. We create a new story. New neural pathways. And a new belief about exercise.
It won’t create any immediate cosmic-sized shifts. But it will take the sting out of those moments when you convince yourself that sleeping in your warm and comfortable bed for an extra half hour is a better option than going for that morning walk.
Over time your new thoughts will gradually get louder and before long, you may even find yourself enjoying exercise.
So, stop and ask: What story have you been telling yourself?
Make this your power set before you even lace up your shoes. Get the mindset first, and the body will follow.