Home Sitting on the sofa - CringeWhy do people cringe at the prospect of exercising?  I for one used to cringe at any mention of exercise.  I thought why on earth would someone want to go out running or go to the gym?  It was just the furthest thing from my mind.  It was only until a couple of weeks of tracking my food when I started to feel a little better about myself that I said its now or never so I started off with very short walks; those short walks eventually got a little longer and so on until I was walking for an hour or two.  Once this became comfortable for me I thought I’d start to add a bit of a very slow jog into my walks. Again, over the weeks these slow spurts of jogging became more jogging than walking and then went on from jogging to running faster…and the rest is history 🙂

For me exercise is the best way to lose weight permanently, but few people do it!  Most people trying to lose weight use diet as the main method to achieve weight loss rather than combined exercise and calorie control. Yet, it’s a well-known fact that most people that keep the weight off after years of having lost it are those that exercise regularly while also keeping track of their calorie intake.

Why People Have a Negative Attitude About Exercise

  • When people start exercising they tend to do too much, too fast. This creates an association with exercise as painful and uncomfortable and puts them off from trying it again.
  • Many people try to do exercises based on what is fashionable or what they think they should be doing, rather than activities that they like.  If a person doesn’t like the exercise they are doing, they will quickly quit and exercise becomes associated with something negative.
  • The more sedentary a person is, the less energy they will have. The sedentary person has a hard time getting going. The mere thought of exercise feels unpleasant.
  • The less fit someone is, the more difficult exercise feels initially. If the person is expecting himself to exercise at the level of someone who is already more active he will become frustrated. These expectations and feelings can keep a person from starting to exercise.
  • Social factors can come into play with some people. They can feel exposed trying to exercise in gyms and other public areas. Feelings of self-consciousness can make them think of exercise as something negative.


Getting Rid of the Negativity Towards Exercise

Since exercise is the most fat-burning way to lose weight, how can someone overcome the negativity about exercise?

Here are some tips:

  • Start where you are. Make your experience with exercise a positive one from the beginning. Start slowly and take small steps. Forget about what anyone else is doing. Instead, focus on improving your own performance step-by-step. For example, you might start walking down the road. Make the distance or time goal one that is achievable comfortably. Once you can perform the same task without a problem, go a little further or a little faster until you can accomplish that goal comfortably, too.
  • Do what you like. Look for activities that you find pleasurable instead of ones that you feel are expected or are what everyone else is doing. Make exercise fun.
  • Think “Movement” instead of “Exercise.” By replacing the word “exercise” with “movement,” you’re not only getting away from a word that is paired with negative thoughts, but you’re also reminding yourself that you can be more active throughout your day – not just when you’re engaging in formal exercise sessions.
  • Listen to your body. Strive to breath deeply but not so hard that you can’t comfortably have a discussion with someone else at the same time. As you continue to build on your exercise you will find that you can do more while breathing comfortably.
  • Reward yourself. Praise yourself for your efforts no matter how small.  Works towards a greater reward i.e. Garmin sports watch or something you would like.
  • Make it a priority. Making exercise a lifetime change requires an attitude that it’s a priority in your life and that you have an important appointment that can’t be changed easily. Just say, “Sorry, I have a commitment at that time.”  Don’t make excuses not to do exercise.

I always tell my clients or fellow runners who are starting off to “run your own race“.  Never compare yourself to someone else.  It is very easy to look at someone else and start to think “I should be the same or better or ahead of them” and this can start to plant negative seeds in your mind and then you start to exercise less and then eventually stop!  “Run your own race” doesn’t just reference running but really anything in life.  In weight loss it is very easy to think “oh I only lost one pound or this week I didn’t lose anything and other people are losing pounds every week”.  Every person is different and every body is different and there are so many physical and mental things that can alter a persons weight so worrying about someone else’s weight won’t help you.  Start looking after No. 1.

Start thinking and putting yourself first.

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Hannah x

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