How to turn exercise from a Chore to a Choice!

Today’s run was a chore. In-fact running has been a chore for the last 3 months… I had put my running to one side in April, before my big ride. Choosing to sideline running was logical and even sensible. It gave me extra time for training on the bike and would give me less to worry about before my John O’Groats to Lands End trip (JOGLE).

Roll on four and a half months and I still haven’t been out for a run.

Exercise, if truth be told, has been something of an after thought in recent months. I’ve still got out on the bike, but not as much as I was or even as much as I would like too.

It has been relegated to something I ‘should’ do. It has become boring and well if you can only go for an hour what was the point right…

I was drifting and still using the excuse that I was resting post JOGLE. Resting! For four months.

It is so easy to collude with well meaning friends and family, even strangers. Everyone I meet since my journey has effectively given me permission to rest and I accepted it. Wholeheartedly.

Phrases such as ‘You must be exhausted, are you resting?’ were common.

When I suggest for a moment that I need to get back on the bike words such as ‘but you deserve a rest’ come floating back at me.

I used these to fortify my inactivity and allow myself to stay at home. I noticed the language I was using and the words I was searching for in others. I craved people to tell me that it was ok to still rest. It was ok not to jump straight back into ‘something’.

To a certain extent they were right – but when you are talking to someone like me, to whom exercise is a chore most of the time, it’s easy to fall back into old ways.

Exercise is something I absolutely love but yes I find it a chore. It’s not easy. Eight years ago I had to change. My self loathing and body shame was at it’s all time low and it was killing me slowly. Pulling me away from my family as I would choose not to go out and play/walk/run/cycle with them. I would hide behind every possible excuse. Of course that is no longer my default position – but there is still that gremlin waiting in the wings to

So how do you shift your point of view?

Know why you are doing it

What is your #1 reason to exercise?

When we know ‘why’ we want to do it we find it easier to get up and out. Our why is unique to us, it doesn’t even need to make sense to someone else. Our why needs to be bigger than feeling fit or avoiding some disease or future health problem. That’s just some vague future that we can’t quite hold on to.

I wrote a worksheet ‘Meaning for exercise‘ download it and explore this for yourself

 

Acknowledge what counts for you

Do you feel that you need to spend hours to make exercise worthwhile? How would you feel if I told you that 10 minutes would count?

Of course the starting point is important. You will not run a marathon on just 10 minutes running a day. Yet if you want to start couch to 5k then it absolutely will.

What counts is relative to your goal, but if you are just starting out or starting back know that even the smallest step up from what you do now counts.

The NHS app ‘Active 10‘ is a great starting point to get moving.

Set a goal

When we set a goal it takes our idea from a vague intention to something with purpose.   A goal, clearly stated, can be the catalyst that provides the motivation to start and stay on track.  If the goal resonates with our ‘why’ then that is all the more powerful.

A goal can still be too big to focus our energy on and if we have a goal that is based on a specific outcome this can also cause problems. This is where a ‘process’ goal can help. These goals support our every day achievement towards a bigger goal and they are based on elements you can control.

Download my Goal Setting worksheet and write yours down

Take a small step & schedule it like an appointment

Take small and consistent steps. Go out too hard, too fast or for too long the first time and you’ll not want to go back.

Creating a schedule to work with can keep you committed to those small steps. It’s as easy as booking an appointment. Even if you don’t have to book in at the gym still block out the time in your diary the way you would any other appointment.

 

 

Shout about it on social media

Gather your supporters around you.

Social media can be a great place to be amongst people who can help you. Finding a group that caters for your specific needs. Running and cycling clubs have great communities. These are safe havens to ask questions and share your fears.

My Loving Life and Feeling Fit group works in the same way. Although it’s not exercise specific it is a perfect environment to find your love of life and feel great.

 

Rest, relax and recover

Rest is an essential ingredient in this little recipe.

Our bodies and our minds need downtime. They crave a little peace and quiet to switch off. Without rest our bodies will not benefit from the activity we are doing or recover well enough for the next session.

So this is your permission to take a rest, to slow it all down for a day, schedule this in just like you would your exercise.

 

Make it fun

When we tag exercise as boring and even hard it becomes a chore.

To break that link we need to stop using the language that creates that impression. The words we use have a significant effect on our motivation.

We also need to feed the fun. It could be anything from sunflower spotting (see my recent run photos), putting on your favourite tunes or heading out to do something completely different – try trampolining or stand up paddle boarding! Whatever it may be it can be as simple as doing more of what you love

 

Celebrate

When we celebrate we create a pathway for joy. This feeds our positivity and keeps us motivated. When we combine this with doing what we love and knowing why we want to feel fit we are creating a powerful connection that will last.

Take the time each week to list all the things that went well and felt good about your exercise. Tie your initial reactions to the positive actions you took. So if you start to say ‘I didn’t totally hate running’ switch it to I embraced running and I was surprised how much I liked it or how good it felt. Concentrate on how it felt for you over and above anything else.

 

Last week I set a mini challenge in my Facebook group I ran through each of these strategies – I wanted to help my clients to think more carefully about their exercise routine. To find the fun and celebrate what they had achieved. This week also happened to be a gentle nudge for me.

Back to today…

Having finished the challenge it was time to bury the running gremlin…

My legs felt like spaghetti – all wobbly and not really my own! I felt like I was turning my back on cycling – my one true love… I noticed how I was beating myself up for being ‘too slow’ and ‘too stiff’ this little voice shouting at me from within – you ran marathons for christ sakes. You can’t even manage a 5k without stopping every 5 minutes to walk.

This all comes from my gremlin. Fighting me at every turn. Telling me to turn back and give up.

He is frightened – that is all. Scared that I will fall back in love with running and put my body back on the line again. The fear is palpable and in his confused state he will try anything. After about 15 minutes run walk he started to calm down. My breathing was even and regular. My heart rate, although high, was strong and consistent. My gremlin calmed. I was enjoying the run. I was back.

The slow road is the only road. One step at a time. Our bodies and minds need time to adjust. Yes I ran marathons, but that was with my body of 3 years ago, not the body I have now. This body needs to reflect what it wants to do and simply moving is the first step. There isn’t another marathon on my horizon – my gremlin needed to know that. There are other ideas bubbling, but I’ll give it time before I say anything out loud.

Are you struggling with finding your love for life and feeling fit. What are you putting off until tomorrow?

You have just one life, one beautiful life in which to have as much fun and adventure as you possibly can. Working with Nicky you can focus on filling your life with meaningful events and putting aside the gremlins that stop you being intentionally happy.

Fill in this questionnaire and find out how working with Nicky could transform the way you think about your life

Where are you now?

Be Curious :  Be Courageous : Be Adventurous 

*material for this blog references the work by Michelle Segar ‘No Sweat’