Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why is Exercise So Hard??!! (And Tips to Make it Easier)

Why is exercise so hard? Isn’t everything that’s good for you hard though? This could lead to a whole philosophical discussion about life, so I’ll steer clear.

But regular exercise tends to be one of the harder things for humans to accomplish today (well, besides nutrition or sleeping 8 hours a night). Back in the day, it was easier. Folks didn’t NEED to exercise back then because going to the farm or walking to your cousin's in a neighboring town 50 miles away was enough daily exercise. But today, we’ve been conditioned to sit on our butts all day and that doesn’t help us build the willpower we need to work out.

Exercise is basically forcing your body to do something uncomfortable so it works harder at burning calories and building muscles. Of course, when we use the word “uncomfortable”, it explains a lot. You don’t get too much out of a comfortable routine.

Okay, so we’ve established that exercise is hard. You didn’t need a genius to tell you that. If it is so hard, should you just give up? No. There are things you can do to help push your body into training mode.

Understand Willpower: Did you know we spend about 3 hours every day building up willpower to steer clear of certain foods, to hit the gym, and to do or not do other tasks? When you wake up in the morning, your willpower is at its highest peak during the day. So find a way to utilize that. Either schedule your workouts in the morning so you don’t kill your willpower battling about it all day, or schedule your routine at the same time every day so you’re not using your willpower at all to decide whether to exercise or not. Scheduling all your exercise sessions for the week make it mandatory and reduce the battle we have with ourselves in our heads.

Associate Exercise with Pleasure: And when I say pleasure, I don’t mean ice-cream! But look for something pleasurable to do either after every exercise session, or after significant fitness goals. For example, I like to exercise right before a meal (breakfast or dinner mostly) and so my brain starts to associate exercise with mealtime. That makes it easier because I know my reward is food. FYI, it also makes it easier to eat healthy after because I don’t want to ruin my hard work :) Alternatively, you can get a massage when you exercise every day for a week, or reward yourself with a nice pair of shoes when you’ve been diligent for a month. You could even have your partner reward you with something when you exercise consistently.

Succumb to Peer Pressure: The good kind, that is. Work out with a friend and make it competitive and fun. Do you play a sport? Great, encourage your friend to learn so you can play together. And hey, man up; don’t let your friend whoop your ass.

Find ideas to try: Ever heard of Groupon? Living Social? There are probably countless websites that provide deals around your area. Look at that as a chance to try something new. I have tried dance classes on Living Social, kickboxing classes and races on Groupon, and many other fitness activities on these sites. Obviously, they are deal sites so the opportunities tend to be inexpensive. You may even make some friends that become your workout partners.

At the end of it all, think about it like this: There is a law of reversibility that 2 – 3 weeks of inactivity can drastically reduce your fitness level to where it was when you started. So do everything in your power to keep yourself going and keep it as fun as you can. Because the effort to restart after you’ve quit is much more than the effort required to keep going. So keep going.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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