I’m a pretty well established exerciser these days. I run several times a week; I’ve run several half marathons and one full marathon, and I’m currently training for my second marathon in Melbourne in October. On top of that I do HIIT (high intensity interval) training at home (using the excellent app 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge) and do yoga and pilates most weeks.
I know from the outside – especially to someone who still struggles to exercise – it can look like I’m just one of those people who was born sporty and fit, and who squeals like a cheerleader when she starts to sweat.
But I haven’t always been that way. Sure, when I was a kid, I was pretty sporty. I played netball and was pretty good at athletics. But once I hit my late teens and started travelling overseas, that all went out the window. I discovered beer and chips and sitting on couches.
And my young metabolism tricked me into thinking I could get away with living like that while still feeling great, and being able to wear hot pants.
But soon time and age caught up with me, and I knew I had to do something. I spent the next several years struggling to find a way to exercise that I would actually like. I bought running gear I wore once and then discarded in the back of my wardrobe; I paid for months and months of gym memberships that I never used; I joined a squash competition where I forfeited as many games as I played; hell, I even bought a pair of roller blades, for Christ’s sake.
But I just couldn’t make anything stick. I’d wake up in the morning and think, nah, not today. Then I’d roll over and snooze. Or I’d make plans to do it after work, but then it was competing with the idea of wine or exhaustion from a particularly stressful day. Any excuse, really.
Then I discovered a secret that has helped me take the “do I feel like it today?” factor out of exercising. And I think it’s worth sharing.
It might freak you out at first, but stay with me. I promise, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and it will completely change the way you feel about exercise.
Inertia is hard to battle when you’re starting from zero. Motivation is almost non-existent. Turning off your alarm, rolling over and going back to sleep is so easy. Other days, you might get up grudgingly and go and do the bare minimum, and then feel shite about yourself for the rest of the day for not trying hard enough.
But that can change with one simple mind switch.
Instead of exercising 3-4 times a week, try exercising every day.
Wait, no! Don’t go! Hear me out, okay?
When you exercise 3-4 days a week, you have a choice every morning. Do I feel like exercising today? Yep – great. Nope (and there is always that nope) – okay, let’s take a break today and try again tomorrow.
Except tomorrow is hard too. And so is the next day, right? It never stops being hard.
When does it get easier? It doesn’t if you keep going like this.
So here is my key to exercise happiness. Set your alarm and make a deal with yourself. When that sucker goes off, you get up, you go out the front door, and you go move that gorgeous bod of yours in whatever way you fancy. All movement is good movement (except licking melted chocolate off a spoon – pretty sure that doesn’t count as exercise).
Some days you can do something major. I went for a 32km run last week and that felt amazing (okay, super tough, but then amazing).
And then other days it could be something super simple. I might do a 7-minute HIIT workout, some simple yoga stretches, or – if I can get all my kids out of their beds – I might gather the troops and walk to the local park, where the kids can play while I use the gym equipment.
But I do something every single day, without fail.
And every day, momentum builds and it gets easier and easier to get moving.
The question of whether you actually feel like exercising today is now taken care of. The question now is: how much exercise do you feel like doing today, and what type? And the great thing about that is that, often, once you’ve started, you find that you’re in the mood to do much more than you thought you were when you were snuggled down under that doona.
And, for me, now that I no longer ask myself “will I?” or “won’t I?”, I’m relaxing and enjoying getting out there every day. In fact, I can honestly say I love exercise, which thrills me beyond belief. I get super cranky if I can’t do it – like the week I recently had off because I was sick.
I can’t tell you what a difference this switch has made to my life, and I seriously think it could help you too if you suffer from that sporadic approach, and find yourself putting that workout off until tomorrow.
I’d say give it two weeks and see if you feel differently about exercise. You could surprise yourself.
Are you willing to give it a go?