Exercise has many health benefits and to get the most of these benefits we are told to be as active as possible. Sometimes we don’t to and a date with Netflix sounds way more fun than doing strenuous exercise. As many of you know I hate strength training like really hate it to point I had every excuse in the books as to why I didn’t do it. Since I chose not to strength training for several years I became very weak and decided I should pick it up and for the first time ever I actually look forward to it and love it! Strength training has never for me which is why I avoided but not doing it was not the answer and has caused more damage than if I were to only do it for five minutes. Motivation yourself to exercise when you hate can be difficult so if you are struggling and truly want to learn to love to exercise here are some things I did that helped me love something I once hated.
Reevaluated my purpose- If you go into a new workout routine with goals that are just strictly for vanity you will lose motivation quickly. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good but you shouldn’t make your fitness goals around getting six-pack abs because that won’t last long if you do that. For a while, I was working out because I thought I needed to look a certain way but it wasn’t until I realized I was doing it for the wrong reasons and it was causing my lack of motivation. Once I changed my mindset and worked out to build strength instead of trying to look a certain way it felt more rewarding because I didn’t feel like I had some expectation I had to meet and I was doing it because I wanted to not because I had to.
Start slow– I have this horrible habit of being overly ambitious with my fitness goals and doing too much too soon. How many reps I could do has always been more important to me than the amount of reps I was doing so often I would compromise form to get in more reps. It wasn’t until I realized that it’s not about how many reps you are doing but are you doing them properly because you can be doing one-hundred shoulder presses but your form is sloppy then your workout won’t be as effective. I don’t strength train as long or do as many reps but my workouts feel harder because I am taking it slow and focusing on form rather than reps. I am enjoying the process and now feel that I am actually making progress instead of hitting a plateau!
Smile- If you can’t smile during your workouts then you aren’t doing something that brings you enough joy and maybe you haven’t found the right workout for you. I don’t love every aspect of my workout but there is something about my workout that brings me joy or I wouldn’t be doing it and the things that aren’t my favorite but need to be done I smile through because when you smile you can trick your brain into liking something you hate and will go by so much faster.
Have a positive attitude- One of the biggest mistakes I have made is having a negative mindset when working out and thinking this is the worst thing I will ever do. The thing is it is not the worst thing you will ever do and when you have that mindset what ends up happening is you tell yourself you will do it tomorrow then tomorrow turns into next week and next week turns into giving up. Instead of looking at how much pain my workout will cause I focus on something different and think about how much strength I am gaining from it. If you shift your mindset and think about the results instead of reminding yourself of the pain it will be motivating because you will be reminded as to why you are doing it.
Make it fun- I don’t love every aspect of my routines but there is something about my routines that bring me joy or I wouldn’t do them. I used to be that person that would do any routine that I thought would give me tons of health benefits even if I hated it and that usually meant tons of weight lifting. I don’t mind some weight lifting but that wouldn’t be my exercise of choice and prefer body resistance exercises like arm circles and pushups because they are lower impact and it makes more sense for me to do exercises that are less strenuous on your joints. I still do some weight lifting but most of my strength was built from bodyweight exercises because that is what I enjoy. If a routine seems torturous to you then stop doing it and begin searching for something that makes you happy and makes you want to come back. Some routines are not going to be fun and you can’t make them fun but sometimes you just have to do it if it’s what is best for your health.
Make stretching a priority– When you stretch it will improve your performance in your workouts and when you don’t it will decrease your performance in your workouts so you may think you are declining but you could just be losing flexibility and need to stretch. I didn’t realize how important stretching was and how much it can cause pain for not doing and reduce when you are doing it consistently. I used to have daily muscle weakness and pain that controlled my life and because of stretching and consistent strength training I occasionally get it but it’s almost gone. Stretching plays a huge role in how you are feeling so unless you don’t benefit from even if you can’t exercise make it a priority!
I have no shame in rest days- I used to be that person that never took rest days because I feared that if I didn’t work out six days a week sometimes the full seven I wouldn’t get results but the opposite is true and without rest days you will not get the results you are looking for. I exercised constantly for many years with very little rest to the point of exhaustion and it wasn’t until I started having chronic pain that I was forced to cut back to three to four days a week in order to maintain my energy levels. Chronic pain has a lot of negatives but one of the positives is that it taught me the importance of rest days and slowing down. I don’t know if I ever would have considered cutting back on my exercise routine without having chronic pain but it’s one of the best things I have ever done. There are even times I need to take a week off of exercise and feel no guilt from it which was never would have happened before chronic pain because there were times I went on vacation and secretly tried to squeeze a workout in because I always felt guilty for not working out. It such a relief to be able to go on vacation and not have to worry about when I am going to do a plank and know I am not going to. I used to refuse to take rest days now I probably have gotten too comfortable with taking them!
I listen to a podcast- Fitness instructor Rebecca Louise has a podcast called It Takes Grit has a motivational podcast that teaches everything you need to know about fitness and how to stay motivated during a workout. I almost gave up on strength training until I started watching this podcast and learned new ways to think about exercise because it all starts with your mindset. If you can figure out how to have a positive mindset when exercising then you have won half the battle because it’s your brain that will give up first not your body.
Do it for the results– I am not talking about working out to look a certain way because you should never work strictly for vanity but to gain self confience and to improve your health. When you start doing some kind of movement you will gain self-confidence in yourself and start loving your results so if anything else do it for the results and to feel good!
The big game-changer for me in learning to love strength training was to do more of what I enjoy and less of what I don’t because that what keeps me motivated to stay consistent. I can’t motivate myself to do a workout that is so unbearable tortuous no matter how good it is for me because there are so many workouts out there that you can have fun doing and will give you the same amount of benefits as the ones you hate. I spent many years doing workouts I hated because I knew they were so good for me and then I started to ask myself why I am being miserable and wasting time doing things I hate when I don’t have to and can’t find things I love. One of the biggest things that I lost during the years I was not working out to my full potential was my self-confidence because I was getting weaker and losing strength but I am not getting that strength back and it feels so good. If you can’t find something you like just do something because that will be better than nothing and you will feel so accomplished and good after you have completed it. I neglected training for so long and it is okay to take it slow but don’t make my same mistakes of not working out if you can because it will be much harder than you think to get your strength back once you lose it. How do you maintain your strength and what motivates you to do workouts you hate?
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