Learn To Love Exercise January 19 2016

According to French World War I Supreme Allied Commander, Ferdinand Foch, “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” With that in mind, it is important to find true love and passion for what we pour our heart, soul and immense effort into.  But, what do you do if you aren’t initially enamored with the task at hand?  Don’t fear – here are lessons to learn to love what you do. 

According to Michelle Segar, PhD, motivational psychologist and author of “No Sweat: Building Behaviors to Last a Lifetime”, "Many people hate to work out because we've been taught to do it for the wrong reasons." 

From approximately birth until January 2006, I was one of those haters.  I dabbled with running track and took dance classes through high school, but dreaded gym class.  I took an exercise class here and there through college and into working life.  I did enjoy walking – my parents, grandparents and I took weekly weekend strolls through the revolutionary war sites and cemeteries while I was growing up – but I didn’t consider that exercise.    

In short, had anyone told me that, in January 2006, I would consider, let alone start training for, a marathon I would have fallen over laughing.  But the miles I dreaded, I soon began to enjoy.  Here’s how I learned to love what I do and how you may find the same adoration too.


Find Your Driving Force:  When surveyed, most people say they are motivated to exercise solely by a want to lose weight.  While weight loss is a valid reason, Segar states that “"The problem is that this negative message frames exercise as something we should force our bodies to do, whether we like it or not”.   So, if the scale barely budges, some may lose the motivation to move. 

But, what if you reframe your motivation from “losing weight” to “gaining health and longevity”? Research shows you are more likely to continue, in one part because it gives you a longer, broader focus.  If you are someone, like me, who tends to put others needs first, you can think about all the people who will benefit greatly from you living a long, healthier life.  Mental images of loved ones can give you the extra push needed to keep on keepin’ on. 

When I set out to do a marathon, while getting in shape was a definite goal, my driving force was to help find a cure to the cancer my friend was battling.  So, whenever the couch was calling louder than my running shoes, which was often, I referred back to my “why”.  I wanted Marybeth to get healthy and, in the process, I made myself healthier too.  The fact that, week after week, my jeans fit better and my body felt stronger was an added benefit.


Find A Way To Make Fitness Fun:  One friend swears by yoga; another lives for spinning; and a third truly enjoys running hundreds of miles in one weekend.  When it comes to exercise, there are many different options and objects of affection, so you want to find something you consider fun.  The more enjoyable you find the fitness activity, the more likely you are to want to do it and stick with it. 

And don’t be afraid to mix it up and making differing days different activities.  Weekends may offer more time for hiking treks or longer runs; weeknights may be the perfect time for group classes at the gym.  Changing things up is good for keeping boredom at bay. 


Find a Fitness Friend:

When I was a full-time TV producer at CNBC, we had a free gym on the premises (awesome perk!).  My good friend and colleague, Hakimah, and I used to take our lunch breaks there.  Some days, we’d dance wildly at Zumba, and others we’d work out our documentary scripts while working out side-by-side on the treadmills.  I looked so forward to our “lunches” that I forgot it was exercise.

Everyone needs a fitness friend like Hakimah – fellow exercise fans can inspire you to go farther, stay longer and try harder.  Check out Meet-Up groups in your area, attend a group class at the gym or join a fitness-related group on Facebook.  Even if your workout buddy is not someone you meet on a regular basis, or if on Facebook someone you meet in actual face, they can offer support, a listening ear or a laugh if, and when, you need it. 


Find Yourself: While I was training for my first marathon in 2006 or for my 20th (yikes!) now, I find that the miles help me reconnect and refocus.  It is MY time away from the business, and the movement clears my head of clutter, which allows me to tackle those to-do list items that seem never-ending.  I feel stronger in mind, body and spirit when I’m done, even if I dislike every step at the beginning.      

In learning to love exercise, I hope you will also learn to love yourself – your strength, your stamina, your power and prowess.   It worked for me and that, in short, is why I love it.