Exercise. It’s either a passion, source of enjoyment, or the bane of our existence. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. But whether we hate working out or love it, we know it has tons of benefits.
So when I got an email from a woman earlier this week saying she knows she should be more active but she hates working out, I felt compelled to write about the topic.
As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I work with women all around the world to help them get more consistent with their workouts and nutrition without becoming obsessive. And the truth is, not all of them come to me loving fitness [start with my free fitness challenge if you want some guidance]. So sometimes, we have to work through why they aren’t wanting to exercise.
Through working with lots of women, I’ve found that asking three simple questions can help us be more consistent with our workouts even if we’re not currently enjoying them.
Three questions to ask yourself if you’re hating your workouts
Do you have a skills based goal?
Often, we exercise without specific goals. We try to drag ourselves to the gym because it’s “good for us” but we have no real reason for being there. That’s where skills based goals come into play.
A key way to achieve long term fitness motivation is to focus on building skill competency. In other words, emphasize skill development in your workouts. By picking a new sport or skill, you’ll set goals that revolve around improving yourself. This is HUGE with adult exercisers, because research shows that skill development is strongly correlated with greater exercise participation over the long term.
Spend some time thinking of a skill you want to develop and make a plan. This could include joining an adult sports league, mastering a tough movement pattern (like maybe a Turkish Get-Up), or increasing your squat weight.
Are you focusing only on outcomes?
Outcomes goals are the most common type of goal, right? We workout because we want to lose 10lbs, fit into our skinny jeans without sucking our stomachs in, or rock that LBD for our high school reunion. But what about when we reach (or fail to reach) those goals?
I’ll tell you…we start to hate our workouts.
I’m not saying to throw away outcome goals all together, in fact, they help you get started, but if you also work to value the actual act of exercising, you’ll achieve much more long term success.
Start thinking about all the positives that come with working out. These will be super individualized and personal but some examples of how to focus on the actual act of working out include mantras like:
- Doing circuit workouts are fun/enjoyable.
- I love improving my kettlebell skills.
- By working out, I’ll be able to stay active for the rest of my life.
- I build a community of friends through my workouts.
To get your personal mantras, ask yourself questions like:
- How does exercise help me live the life I want?
- What do I enjoy about working out?
- How am I building social connections through working out?
- How does exercise make me feel?
Are you not moving in a way that brings you joy?
Too often, I talk with women who are doing workouts that bore the crap out of them because they think they’re what they *should* be doing. Their old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. They read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. So they drag themselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if they hate it.
Lovely, this just won’t work. If consistency with working out is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.
It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally (see the three most common workout consistency mistakes here).
If you wanna learn more about how I motivate myself to workout, I’d love you to join my email tribe (sign up in the sidebar to the right or at this link). Each week, I share my best stuff on fitness, nutrition, and getting over the obsessive BS with my tribe. I’d love to share it with you. Sign up now.