Exercise Lesson of the Week – Do What You Like

I once had this client who really loved all of the exercises I gave her.

When we went through various exercises she would say things like, “Wow, I really feel that! That’s a good one!” Or, “Yeah, I can see how this exercise would really help me!”

Which is great, right? I mean, who loves squats and triceps extensions?

Turns out? Not her.

One day we were going over her week and, as always, she said she did the workouts. But, as we went through each exercise, me asking if she did this one and that one, she surprised me.

For at least half of them, the ‘good’ exercises she raved about during our workouts, she said, “Oh, no…I didn’t do that one. I didn’t do that one either.”

“But you said those were good exercises, right?”

“Oh, yes!”

“Well, then why didn’t you do them?”

“Well, that one hurt my elbow and this one hurt my knee, and…”

She went on and I kind of felt like banging my head on her treadmill at that point.

But what I realized was that, in her mind, anything that hurt or was uncomfortable was ‘good’ and therefore, she should do it.

The problem? The discomfort ensured that she wouldn’t actually do it,

Think about it…we probably all have this notion that…

Exercise has to hurt in order to be effective.

Well, it doesn’t. And it shouldn’t and if it does? You’re doing it wrong.

I’m not saying there isn’t some amount of discomfort in exercise – The whole idea is to get out of your comfort zone. And yes, if you want to change your body, you have to work at it.

But change isn’t going to happen if you’re not exercising at all and if you’re trying to do ‘good’ workouts that hurt, that’s what’s going to happen.

At this point, this client and I went through all the exercises to find the ones she actually did. Many of these were stretches or other simple moves, to which she said, “But those aren’t good enough. I mean, I’m not going to lose weight just doing those.”

“But you’re not doing the other ones anyway,” I reminded her.

What she needed to learn was that it was okay to start with a workout full of exercises that felt good to her.

Once she gave herself permission to do the moves she liked, she started doing them much more frequently and, more important, she was actually enjoying it. Okay – ‘enjoy’ is a strong term, but she didn’t hate them.

Is she going to lose weight as quickly by just doing stretches? Probably not. Would I like to see her do more, work harder? Of course.

But what’s more important than any of that is the fact that she is now exercising every day and she’s she likes how her body feels afterward. And? She eventually started asking for new and more challenging exercises.

That’s how it starts…with something that makes you feel good, regardless of whether that something fits into the rules of exercise.

Tips for Finding Something You May Actually Like

  • Give yourself permission to experiment – If there are things you’ve done in the past that you hated, give yourself the freedom to try something new. It could be yoga, stretching, belly-dancing…just think of what you typically like and then try something. There are videos that have just about any workout you could even think of trying.
  • Give it time – The first time you do anything is going to feel somewhat uncomfortable, especially if it’s been awhile. Don’t give up just yet…the more you do something, the easier it gets and the more you might like it.
  • Forget the rules – There are plenty of rules about exercise – the Exercise Guidelines say so, but if you’re not following those guidelines, what’s the point of trying to adhere to them? Do your own thing. That’s how you figure out your own body.
  • Forget weight loss – There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but that only happens once you’ve established a regular routine and, of course, are careful with your diet. When you’re just starting out, or getting back to exercise, put weight loss aside and just focus on showing up for your workouts.

Taking the pressure off to do a certain exercise or workout can free you up for things you might actually enjoy. And? Once you get started, get comfortable, you’ll almost always progress to new and different types of workouts.