As a fitness teacher, I often feel misunderstood. When I am out walking my dog (and I never walk him as much for my exercise as for the pitiful look that he gives me when he's been imprisoned all day), friendly people that know me roll down their windows and yell things like "You go, girl!" or, "Faster!" or the memorable, "Your dog's in better shape than I am!"
I want to set something straight right now. I cannot remember the last time I woke up in the morning and was raring to get to exercise class. As I lie in bed, the Other Penny in my head says something like this, "Let's just sleep a few more minutes; the kids don't really need breakfast," or, "I'll work out tomorrow or maybe later today, just not right now."
No one usually feels like it. Of course, lots of us like exercise once we get about halfway through, and everyone loves a workout after it is completed, but very few souls are skipping around the spinning room with joy prior to class.
There are a few exceptions, like the same people who enjoy sleeping on the rock-hard ground in a sleeping bag in a tent during August with a dozen boy scouts, or maybe people who have been mistakenly placed on bed rest for six weeks. These folks might feel anticipatory about their workout, but for the general population, they are the fitness exception rather then the fitness rule. And of course, those who, over the years, are faithful in their fitness don't mind doing the sweating, because they've started to reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.
These people tend to not mind exercise at all, because they've integrated the connection between their fitness regime and good bodily results.
As Dr. Phil says, "You don't have to like it, you just have to do it." This means putting on your running shoes and grabbing your iPod, even as the voice in your head concocts various excuses and ideas to avoid sweating.
You have to approach your workout plans just like you deal with brushing your teeth. Do you ever skip brushing your teeth because you brushed them yesterday? Or do you tell yourself you can brush them tomorrow or that you know you should brush, but you just don't want to do it right now? Or how about saying, "To heck with brushing altogether!" because you haven't done it in so long, why start now? Think of exercise as your anatomical brushing.
One way to get yourself moving is by using what I call self-backtalk. You have to learn to respond to that voice in your head in the same way that I talk back to the Other Penny. When she suggests sleeping five minutes more, I tell her that we can take a nap later (even though she never feels like it after she gets her body moving). When she wants to skip a day, I tell her that she might not feel like it but do it anyway. When she says she's tired, I respond by saying five minutes is better than no minutes and that the hardest part is getting started; then it gets easier.
I also think that every time we give in to these sabotaging thoughts, we strengthen our giving-in habits, and that conversely, every time we resist these thoughts and exercise anyway, we strengthen our "Nike" (just-do-it) habits.
Another big part of a consistent exercise routine is making exercise a priority. You have to put it on your calendar just like any other important appointment. You deserve to put yourself first.
Another self-backtalk sentence you can use is to tell yourself that you can be loose with your fitness routine or you can be fit, but you can't be both.
Or how about this self-backtalk response: "I may not care if I skip my workout now, but I will care a lot when I get on the scale."
Tell yourself, "No excuses."
Another important part of this self-backtalk is giving yourself credit when you do do it, in spite of not wanting to. You deserve credit every time you exercise, every time you stick to your workout plan.
If I am honest, I'll admit that I really didn't feel like writing today. Spring is getting closer, and it's warm outside for the first time all month. and the afternoon sun is angling in on the Other Penny's face in just the most tempting angle. But I told her we had no choice, that we'd enjoy our walk more after having crossed this off our list. And now, let's walk the dog.
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