Workouts Inspire a Variety of Emotions
Everyone has a different relationship with exercise. Some people genuinely love it, and others do it with a sense of obligation. Some people hate exercising. In any event, most of us would rather be doing anything else than working out.
3 Ways to Build a More Positive Relationship with Exercise
Motivation can be a struggle for anyone, at least some of the time.
For people who hate to exercise, motivation can be doubly hard. Working so hard to motivate yourself to work out makes it much harder to be consistent, which doesn’t do much to stop the cycle of negativity. Here’s how to break the cycle.
The way we mentally ‘talk’ to ourselves makes a big impact on our lives in general. Negative self-talk is often a big part of how people ‘motivate’ themselves to exercise. This type of self-talk can range from “You’re so lazy and out of shape! Go to the gym!” to “Unless you’re fit and beautiful, no one will ever love you!”
Wow, that’s harsh! Most people would never allow someone else to talk to them like that… but we routinely accept it from ourselves.
Self-talk plays an important role in getting motivated to work out in the first place. Try talking to yourself (mentally or verbally) about how happy you’ll be with yourself when you’re done, or find something you enjoy about your workout to focus on, even if it’s super small — like how sweaty you are after spin class.
Try to become aware of what your mind is chattering about while you exercise. Try your best to detach from past experiences and future worries. It’s not about pushing your negative thoughts into a dark place, but bringing them to the light so you can use your awareness to ask, “Is this helping me or hindering me?”
Hey, you might even notice more positive thoughts than you did before because now you’re paying attention, with intention and without judgment, to everything that comes up.
After your workout, try to talk to yourself about your efforts — including the fact that you worked out at all — instead of the outcome. For example, tell yourself how many calories you burned, how far you ran, or how much you lifted. Think about the process and you’ll find something positive to focus on!
Focus on How You Want to Feel
It’s easy to think about how great it’ll feel when you finally achieve your fitness goals. But how much thought have you given to how you want to feel while you’re exercising?
It’s important because when we connect with how we want to feel, it informs our choices. A really hard workout and the feeling of being totally spent might be exhilarating for one person, and frustrating and disappointing for the next.
Think of 2-4 words that capture how you want to feel while you workout. This gives you something positive to focus on, and helps guide your choices.
If you want to feel confident and in control, while you work out, do it in your favorite workout outfit with a written workout plan that you feel 100% capable of doing properly. If you want to feel strong and balanced, make sure to focus on good technique and alignment.
You can use the words as a mantra which you mentally repeat to yourself while you exercise. One of my favorite habit hacks for remembering how you want to feel is to create a wallpaper for your phone that evokes those feelings. Or put a sticker on your water bottle, in your workout book, or on a keychain that has the same effect.
Choose Your Own Metric
You’re the master of your domain, so you can decide what success means to you. It’s so easy to get lost in others’ expectations, particularly when they come from expert sources. Of course, it’s great to be able to do a 90-second plank! Heck, it’s even a great goal to aspire to. But if you already hate doing planks, and are struggling to hold one for 30 seconds, that 90-second standard can be demotivating.
Your own metrics are closely connected to how you want to feel during and after exercise. It makes sense because your metric is your personal definition of success in this particular context. It’s about adjusting what you expect so that you are set up to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment rather than frustration and disappointment in yourself.
Your metric will change over time, as your goals and fitness level change. It’s something to check in on regularly, which helps keep you engaged and creates a sense of always having something to work towards that’s meaningful to you and within your reach.
If you decide your metric for planks is finishing with the sense that you definitely couldn’t have gone on any longer, you might find that you finish at different times in different workouts — but always feel like you ‘hit the mark’ with your efforts.
Subjective measurements aren’t so straightforward, so use a 1-10 scale.
Workouts make you feel a wide variety of emotions. To build a better, more positive relationship with exercise. try:
- Adjusting your self talk to be more positive
- Focusing on how you want to feel
- Using your own metric — a personal measurement of success
- Self-Care Improves Life for Your Friends and Family - July 22, 2020
- Methods for Increasing Positive Emotions - December 4, 2017
- Mindful Eating Is the Game Changer You Need - June 11, 2017
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