THE REASONS (WE DON’T TALK ABOUT) THAT MAKE WORKING OUT SO FREAKIN’ HARD
When you think about working out, is “Ugh! I don’t wanna!” your first reaction? If so, I totally get it. I’ve been where you are. In fact, most of us have been where you are because, well, aggressive gym and wellness culture has basically taken all the natural joy out of exercising. We now need to look a certain way, perform a certain way, and post (on Instagram) a certain way in order to prove that we’re exercising our way to six pack abs. I mean, talk about some seriously gross pressure, am I right?! Ugh!
Because of all this pressure, so many of us have built up internal resistance to working out. We put super high expectations on ourselves and expect to see results faster-than-humanly-possible instead of leaning into this reality: achieving true fitness takes time and patience. We also have a hard time finding the fun in fitness when it’s constantly marketed to us as an unattainable chore, #goals, or yet another thing we have to do in order to be considered worthy.
But I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make peace with working out so that each sweat-sesh doesn’t feel quite so soul-sucking. There are just a few things you have to do first.
3 COMMON REASONS WE STRUGGLE TO WORKOUT
(AND THE WORKAROUNDS I RECOMMEND FOR MY CLIENTS)
Workout Struggle #1:
Lack of time and scheduling
The biggest barrier to fitness that I see over and over again is that people aren’t clear on when or how their workouts are going to happen. We tend to commit to the idea of working out quite broadly in our brains – think, “I’m going to start running this summer!” But what we fail to do is follow up that motivation with a clearly defined action plan.
Exactly which days do you plan to run?
At what time?
For how long?
What’s your route?
What’s your rain plan?
Do you have the right shoes?
Where are your running shoes?
Hoping that you’re going to “find time” to workout just doesn’t work. You don’t wing it in other areas of your life, do you? So why here? Get specific and have an action plan in advance.
Workout Struggle #2:
Lack of love for the type of workout you’re doing
Many people don’t stay the course with their fitness goals because they kind of hate (read: really hate) what they’re doing. And I’m not immune to this! I will find any excuse to not workout when I include burpees as part of my routine. No matter how much I try to like them, I just don’t. So I flake. What I really need to do is admit that I’m never going to like burpees and break up with them for good – it’s not me, it’s totally them.
Find a physical activity and method that you actually like doing and build from there. It will make all the difference. For example, one of my clients hates to do strength training workouts that involve a timer. She likes to do things according to a number of reps instead. So, that’s how we carved out her workouts – rather than trying to change her preferences, we embraced her likes and dislikes. Become aware of your own likes and dislikes and work with them instead of against them.
Workout Struggle #3:
The belief that workouts need to be extreme
Many of us have this idea burned into our brains that exercise equals intensity. It has to involve HITT or bootcamp-style training in order to be effective. We think that if we aren’t gasping for breath and drenched in sweat that it doesn’t count – no wonder it’s hard to get going; nothing about that experience sounds enticing.
I’m here to tell you that there are lots of other workout options. Playing sports, LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts, yoga, dance and even walking all count! Figure out what feels like the right type of effort for where you’re at. Start slow and build from there instead of expecting yourself to do 90 minute workouts with no breaks that leave you hanging on for dear life. (PS: workouts can be as short as 10 minutes too by the way – the idea that it has to be an hour or more is a myth!)
REINVENT YOUR APPROACH TO FITNESS
Changing your inner narrative around fitness will help to make working out less difficult. It isn’t about going hard all the time. It isn’t about achieving Olympic level athleticism. It isn’t about dropping lots of weight in a short window of time.
Working out can be slow and gradual. It can be something that feels good and relaxing. It can basically be whatever you want it to be. Shake off those impossibly high expectations and start taking steps to embrace exercise that is grounded in your true self.