We all know exercise is good for us. But when our alarms start blaring to get us up for a morning workout and it’s still pitch black outside, the first thing that comes to mind is rarely “Heck yes, this is good for me!”
I try to listen to my body and provide what it needs to the best of my ability. But sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, it’s hard to tell whether my body actually does need another hour of rest or if I’m simply being lazy and making excuses for myself. Usually, it’s the latter.
In my own life, I’ve found that the only way to make exercise consistent is to make it a habit. Much easier said than done, I know. How do you make exercise a habit, you ask?
Find exercise you love.
Think about some of the things you love doing in your day-to-day life. Maybe you love sipping your morning cup of coffee with a good book. Perhaps you’re blessed enough to have a cute pet that you love cuddling with at the end of your workday. Or maybe you watch a certain show every Tuesday night with your family.
Now ask yourself – do you have to force yourself to do any of these things? Are they chores to you? Of course not, because you love doing them! You look forward to these moments. You may not believe it yet, but it’s possible for you to feel this exact same way about exercising. When you find exercise you love, taking care of your body becomes a regular part of your daily routine.
When I first heard about the concept of liking exercise and not just doing it because I felt like I had to, I thought to myself, “Oh great, not only do I have to force myself to go to the gym every day but now I have to pretend to love it too!” After that, I tried thinking happy, motivational thoughts as I was pushing myself through another grueling HIIT workout. I was faking it, but I sure wasn’t making it.
It wasn’t until I encountered a type of exercise I truly loved that I was finally able to turn it into a habit. While I most definitely do not follow a perfectly consistent exercise routine, finding exercise I love has helped me to live the most consistently active lifestyle I’ve ever had.
How to Find Exercise You Love
It took me a lot of trial and error before I finally found forms of exercise I genuinely found fun, and it will probably be that way for you, too. To help you get started and to speed the process along, here are some tips to help you find exercise you love.
Revise Your Why
Motivating yourself to exercise starts with getting really clear about why you want to form an exercise habit in the first place. Sometimes, hatred for working out is the result of a faulty Why.
Take a moment to think about why you exercise.
If the answer you come up with has something to do with a desire for your body to look a certain way, I encourage you to dig a bit deeper. For instance, if your answer is, “I want to form an exercise habit because I want to lose weight,” now ask yourself why you want to lose weight. What is at the root of your desire?
Thinking through this offers you valuable insight about what’s motivating you. If your core motivation for changing your life has something to do with others’ opinions of you, it’s time to recalibrate. External factors have a lot less motivational power than intrinsic ones, so if you’re focusing on attaining a goal set by some external standard you’ve convinced yourself you have to meet, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Your relationship with exercise isn’t about anyone else but you. Why does exercising matter to you and you alone?
I used to exercise because I wanted to be thin and toned. I wanted people to think I was attractive, and I wanted to be admired for the way I looked. This meant my level of motivation fluctuated depending on the results I was seeing in the gym. If I wasn’t losing weight as quickly as I wanted to, or if my abs weren’t as defined as I wanted them to be, I would become frustrated, and it made me want to stop trying altogether.
Now, I exercise for the mental clarity and energy it gives me. I exercise to keep my body healthy so that I can continue doing the things I love. And the most important reason I exercise is because I can. I was given a fully-functioning, healthy body, and I don’t want to take that gift for granted for a single day.
Comparing my current Why to my previous one, you can probably see that I now have much deeper, more meaningful reasons to get moving than I used to. Most importantly, my motivation to exercise isn’t tied to some arbitrary external outcome anymore, so it’s impossible for me to be discouraged by a lack of results.
Write down your Why and put it somewhere you’ll see it when you’re tempted to stay in bed instead of getting out and moving your body.
Try Types of Exercise That Intrigue You
Is there a certain type of exercise you’ve always wanted to try or have been intrigued by, but for whatever reason, you haven’t yet? Now’s the time!
My best friend used to work at an indoor cycling studio and loves taking spin classes. For a while, I was afraid to take her up on her offers to join because I was scared. I had heard about how hard spin classes were, and I didn’t want to have an Amy Schumer I Feel Pretty moment.
One day, I just decided to give it a try. What was the worst thing that could happen?
I can’t even tell you how grateful I am that I said yes to taking that first spin class. It’s no exaggeration to say it completely changed my life. I had so much fun – working up a sweat in a dark room with music blaring, surrounded by a bunch of hyped-up people felt more like a party than a workout.
I’m fully aware that spin classes aren’t for everyone (my mom still says, “I hate spin” every time I invite her to a class). And that’s ok! We all have different tastes and preferences, and that’s a good thing. The goal is to find exercise YOU love.
Don’t let fear hold you back from trying something new. You might be surprised! The worst thing that could happen is that you hate it and never go back. I think that’s more than worth the risk if it helps you get closer to exercise you love doing.
Forget About What Types of Exercise You “Should” Do
It can be intimidating to walk into a gym or workout class for the first time and feel like you have no clue what you’re doing. Thankfully, there are a lot of helpful resources on the internet nowadays to get you started with whatever it is you decide to try.
I think it’s important to remember that every fitness blogger, personal trainer, and average human in the gym had to start somewhere. No one came out of the womb with a barbell on their back or seated on a spin bike. Every master was once a disaster.
You’ve got to start somewhere, and that starting place doesn’t have to look anything like where the person next to you is. It’s smart to use the resources available to you, but try not to get caught up in thinking you need to excel at a certain type of exercise just because someone you admire does it.
Living a healthy, fit lifestyle doesn’t have to mean you go to a gym every day. There are hundreds of different ways to incorporate movement into your daily life, and you don’t need to waste time trying to like a style of exercise you just plain hate.
Finding exercise you love is not about removing the need for discipline. There’s value in pushing yourself to do difficult things that are outside of your comfort zone. Even when you’ve found that blissful, fun form of exercise you love doing, there will still be days when your bed feels extra cozy, and working out just doesn’t sound as good in comparison. Those days are opportunities for you to remember your Why, to accept extra grace when you choose comfort, and to keep pushing forward no matter what.
What are your favorite ways to work out? Comment below so other people can try them out!