Most people, for reasons which are relatively unclear to me, dread exercise. I know! I was shocked and appalled when I found out. So for all those for which this rings true, or anyone who just wants to nod his head exuberantly in agreement with my points, read on for my tips to make sure you anticipate getting sweaty. Note: Not all of these will apply to every single person – it’s less like an eHow article and more like a buffet of options. ALSO, this is different than how to motivate yourself. Simply tolerating workouts falls on a different spot on the spectrum than actually anticipating. The definition of anticipating = to look forward to, to expect. But this post focuses on the former – how to make it fun.
1. Make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but so many people try to pigeonhole themselves into fitness categories they find no joy in! Of course, you can learn to like something over time, pending factors like motivation and your personality, but if you’re just looking to get into a place where you enjoy exercise, it makes no sense to start with something you dread. For example, if you’re looking to drop a few pounds and hate running … don’t sign up for a marathon! There’s so many things that burn calories and provide entertainment. Examples (from my perspective) include: dancing, tennis, swimming, taking the dog for a walk, making up new yoga poses, going to the grocery store and pretending I’m on Supermarket Sweep, etc. The possibilities are endless, really. The world is your oyster, as they say.
2. Take it outside. Right now is the perfect time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re running, walking, doing lunges or practicing Tai Chi (a la Dalton in Roadhouse), being outside will allow you to feel like you’re not only fitting fitness in, but also enjoying nature.
3. Create rituals. When I reflect on most of the events in my life that I look forward to MOST, I think of holidays, family dinners, birthdays, and all of these things have very important rituals tied to them. Dinners, desserts, drinks, merry-making – no matter what it is, if you do something EVERY time you workout that you enjoy, you’ll start to look forward to it a lot more. For example, whenever Dan and I go on a longer run (for me, that means 3 miles and above), we have a beer to recover afterward. It adds an element of enjoyment both during the run and even before it starts. It could be a nice bubble bath every time you complete a particularly strenuous strength-training regime (lavender salts or bubble bath will help soothe inflamed muscles) or a favorite “recovery shake” you indulge in. My favorite one of those is a peanut butter chocolate combination that features protein powder and a banana – yum!
4. Constant change. In a slight juxtaposition to the above point, if you do the same workout ALL the time, it will become boring and unenjoyable. But constantly evolving, creating new challenges and keeping it exciting will lead to an anticipation of how well you can adjust, how fast you can complete the challenge, how many reps you can do before you have to give up. Dan used to be an avid participant in the CrossFit program – one of the elements he enjoyed the most was competing with fellow participants to do it faster each time. Having a tangible, measurable result that you can use to keep moving the needle will make you want to strive for more. (By the way, as I can tell you from personal experience, weight loss is a fine goal, but I found myself only doing what I absolutely needed to in order to drop the pounds for that week. When I make the goal more micro-oriented, each workout became more rewarding, and as a result, something I’d look forward to).
5. Brain train. Yes, training your body is obviously what we’re talking about. BUT, your mental state is equally as important. In order to become more positive about working out, channel the endorphins you get right after one is completed. The traditional and most common thought right after finishing a good sweat session is “Thank goodness. Done!” But, while you have happy brain, wouldn’t it be more productive if you thought “That was amazing – I can’t wait until next time!” If you think that enough, it is possible/probable that you will start to really believe that it’s how you feel and the anticipation will start coming naturally – and as soon as one workout is complete!
Exercise, like having a job, is one of those things that is pretty much a necessity in life. It improves quality of life, helps you live that improved life longer and provides an array of secondary benefits as well. If you can learn to cop a great attitude about, you’ll be that much better off.
How do YOU make sure you look forward to working out?