3 Ways to Find the Value in Exercise

When you look at pretty people at the gym, it’s easy to think they just wake up all motivated to workout.

The truth is, no one really wakes up motivated to get out of bed and exercise. Well, there are probably some people who are, but we don’t like them.

The thing about working out is this:

You have to have a good reason to do it

Think about it. If someone called you right now and said, “I’ll give you a free massage, but you have to come right now!” You would be like, “Sorry I can’t take you to surgery, mom. Something came up.”

But if someone called you and said, “I’ll give you a free personal training session, but you have to come right now!” You would be like, “I’m sorry. My mother always told me never to do personal training on Mondays. Also, never go to a rodeo on June 17th.”

Think of the things you make time for. Anything you do has value.

On the pleasure side of life, you make time for Netflix because – Why do they have so many awesome shows!? Eleven…I love you!

On the more dutiful side of life, you make time for the dentist because you don’t want your teeth to fall out.

You don’t go to the dentist because you like it, unless you’re one of those people who actually do like it, in which case you should go join the people who love to wake up and workout.

All that to say:

What is The Value of Working Out?

You know all the usual stuff – Burning calories, reduced risk of heart disease, more energy, blah blah blah.

But what about what’s valuable to YOU. If you feel pretty healthy, preventing some future medical condition may not be enough to get you moving every day. Plus, how do you measure how much cancer you didn’t get because you exercised?

So, how do you find the value in exercise? I’m glad you asked because I have some tips for finding your own motivation to exercise.

  1. It Can’t Just Be About Weight Loss

One main reason we exercise is to lose weight, but here’s a fact no one really likes to hear: Exercise is NOT great at helping the human body lose weight. It’s just not, at least not by itself. Briefly, here’s why:

  • Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does – When I workout for an hour on the treadmill, I kind of feel like I killed it. But, depending on the intensity of my workout, I might look at my fitness tracker and see that I burned 320 calories. That’s a good thing but…If I went out right now and had a Vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks, I would cancel out that workout…and? I would add another 100 calories. Not fair, but true.
  • We overestimate how many calories we burn – There are 2 parts to this point and I’ll go into this in a full-blown article. But briefly:
    • 1. We don’t have a good, solid way to measure how many calories we burn unless we’re in a laboratory setting where they put wires and stuff on you. Also, the calorie counts they give you on cardio machines are a big fat lie. I’d love to think I burned 650 doing 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer. I would also love to wake up and be Oprah. Not going to happen.
    • 2. We don’t count calories correctly – If your tracker says you burned 300 calories, you’re forgetting something: The calories you would have burned if you hadn’t worked out. I know, again…not fair. BUT if you really want to get more accurate, you have to subtract those calories. So if you’d slept for those 30 minutes, you would need to subtract about 40 calories for a 150-lb person. That could be significant.
  • We often don’t work hard enough to reap the benefits of the workout as well as the afterburn. This comes from high intensity interval training, which from its name suggests that a) It’s really hard and b) It’s not something you want to do more than 2 or so times a week.

There are more, but let’s move on to the next tip.

2. It Has to Be Something You Like (or at least don’t hate)

You know what the exercise guidelines say – Cardio 5 or more days a week, strength training 2-3 days a week and flexibility training.

But what if you hate cardio? Or what if there’s something on your body that hurts when you try to lift weights?

First, you email me and I can get you set up with some workouts you can actually do.

But, second, you find something that fits YOU.

Here’s an example: I had a conversation with a client who was frustrated because she’d been trying to workout on her treadmill.

Instead of actually working out, she…well…didn’t.

This is kind of how that conversation went:

Me: “So, what about the workout do you dislike?”
Her: “All of it.”
Me: “Okaaaay….let’s start with the basics. What are you actually doing?”
Her: “Well, it’s one of the workouts I found on your site – like you increase the speed or incline for a minute and then you rest…like that.”
Me: “So is the workout uncomfortable for you?”
Her: “Yes.”
Me: “So is it the incline or the speed that bothers you the most?”
Her: “No, what bothers me the most is the treadmill. I hate it.”

Ahhhhh. Now we’re getting somewhere.

When I informed her that there was no constitutional law requiring her to use a treadmill, she was like, “But, it said in your article that interval training is really good for you and the treadmill is easy to adjust and stuff. And I have one at home and everything.”

My response: “Okay, those are all good things, but maybe we need to step back a bit and forget about the treadmill for a minute. What is it you actually like to do for exercise?”

Her answer? Yoga. “But yoga won’t help me lose weight.”

My response: “How much weight will you lose if you never actually workout?”

Her response: “Um…oh. Well. Yeah. I get that.”

The point is, if you like yoga, start there. If you like taking walks, do that every day.  Is it an hour of intense, lung-burning cardio? No. Will it change the world? Maybe not mine, but it might change yours.

Spend time doing what you enjoy and, eventually you’ll probably want to expand your horizons and try new things. You’re not going to get anywhere if your workouts are miserable.

3. It Has to Fit and It Has to Make Sense

The way most people approach exercise is to try to fit their lives around it. Like, someone told you (maybe me, probably everyone who ever talks about exercise) you have to workout for at least an hour every day.

So you plan on doing that every day, but then you don’t do it. Why?

It could be because you’re doing something you hate (see above). It could also be that it doesn’t fit with your current lifestyle and situation.

If you don’t have an hour, forget trying to workout for an hour. If you hate the gym and it’s nowhere near where you live, you don’t have to go there.

Think about what actually fits with your life. Sit down with your schedule, your to do list, your calendar and ask yourself –

  1. Where can I fit in some exercise?
  2. How can I do my workouts in such a way that my entire life isn’t disrupted?
  3. What would actually make me feel good to accomplish every day?

For example, would a 10-minute workout make you feel good? What about a daily walk after lunch?

What makes sense to YOU. That’s much more important to figure out than to keep scheduling things that don’t work.

With all that in mind, how can you find the value in exercise? How can you make it worth doing? Once you figure that out, the rest gets a little easier.

Need some guidance on getting started or finding the perfect workout for you? That’s what I do for a living. Email me.