If you’re one of many people who say “I hate exercise,” you’ll find this post useful to show you alternative ways to lose weight, reasons why you might currently hate exercise (and how to overcome that), as well as an, “if all else fails” strategy to help you shed some lbs.
What do you do when you hate exercise?
You want to drop a few pounds, but for the life of you, can’t get motivated to hit the gym. It might seem like quite the conundrum, but I’m here to show you that it’s actually more manageable than you think.
I get it. I really do.
Because I too, once hated exercise.
When I tell people there was a time I absolutely dreaded exercise, they often look at me with disbelief. But it’s true, just a few years ago, I hated exercise too. I can’t say that anymore, in fact, quite the opposite. I actually say things like “I get to workout” or “I get to go to the gym” …again people look at me in disbelief lol. But it’s true, I went from hating exercise to loving it.
In the past, I not only dreaded the thought of working out, but never had the desire or motivation to go workout. Even when my friends were going.
The thought of hopping on a cardio machine for 30 minutes (yawn) or lifting weights (uhh, 5lb curls?), or mindlessly using the machines (until it burns?) was just not something I looked forward to. And no wonder… It’s super boring. Who would that really appeal to long term?
So basically, when most people think of working out, they think of boring, same old, same old in the gym. Mindlessly wandering some days or performing relatively repetitive movements that yield mediocre results at best.
And who would look forward to that?
But that’s why I wanted to write this article. The type of workout you choose will make a big difference in motivation (more on that in a minute).
In my early 20’s, I worked jobs that required A LOT of walking. I was a retail warrior by day, waitress by night. So the truth is, I was always on my feet, which allowed me to burn enough calories to skip the gym.
But then when I started working at a desk full-time, with a continued focus on my career, my health suffered. As a result, I gained weight.
In this post I’ll tell you how I went from hating exercise to loving it, as well as some tools, tips, and tricks for you to implement in your own life to lose weight, get in shape, and feel your best every day.
You’ll be loving exercise in no time, let’s jump in…
First let’s define exercise
In this case, I’m considering exercise as elevating your heart rate and getting your body moving.
Think of a normal day: You wake up, eat breakfast, go to work (usually sitting most of the day), come home, eat dinner, and chill on the couch until it’s time to go to bed.
If you haven’t noticed, that’s a pretty sedentary way to live. The goal is to get your body moving more than just standing, sitting, or laying down. There are multiple ways you can do this, which I’ll discuss a little later…
So why does exercise matter?
Do you really need to exercise? Is it really that important?
Well, yes. Did you know your cellular makeup is influenced by exercise? The more efficient your cells function the more energy they can provide you through increasing mitochondrial function. Exercise makes your cells operate more efficiently, allowing them to produce more energy.
But there are many other reasons to workout: For the body, mind, and spirit.
- Body – you’ll feel better, more energized, increase your aerobic capacity, develop more muscle, reduce body fat, overall, building a more lean figure.
- Mind – exercise clears your head, making you focus on the present moment, the only moment that matters. When you push yourself in a physically demanding way, you must focus on the task at hand. It’s an opportunity to let all other worries, fears, or anxiety inducing events leave your mind.
- Spirit – when you challenge yourself physically you connect yourself to a bigger purpose, pushing past limiting beliefs, have push-pull moments where you think you can’t, only to prove you can. You find comfort in the uncomfortable and do more than you thought you could.
If you still think, “I hate exercise” let’s dive into some ways you can shift your thoughts, as well as tactical tips and tricks to help you find a way to enjoy exercise to get in shape.
Take a look at your mindset
How do you speak to others or to yourself about exercise? What are the words you use?
Does it sound like…
“I hate exercise”
“I’m not good at exercise”
“Exercise isn’t fun”
“I dread the gym”
“I never lose weight even when I workout, so why do it?”
Then I’d probably hate exercise too.
But what do you really want? To love exercise? To be fit? To love yourself more? To feel confident in the way you look? To be healthy for years to come?
Change your narrative around exercise.
Developing a healthy mindset about one of the most important things you can do for yourself is crucial to shifting from hating to loving exercise.
Write and say new thoughts, such as…
“I’m thankful my body can move like this”
“I love exercise”
“I’m excited to workout”
“Working out makes me feel good”
“I crush it at the gym”
Once you start saying these types of statements to yourself, you’ll start to shift your perspective. You will believe what you’re saying. The universe will work to align your thoughts to your experience. You’ll notice more opportunities arise for bringing in more movement in your life.
It starts with your thoughts. Think positively about exercise and move on to the next step (finding the best workout for you) to shift your perspective.
“Change your thoughts and change your world”
– Norman Vincent Peale
For tactical tips on how to go from “I hate exercise,” to “I love exercise,” and even losing weight, read on.
In order to not hate exercise, it’s important to…
Find the best type of workout for you.
Think back to the 30 minutes on the treadmill/elliptical/stairmaster. This is a go-to for many people when they think of getting a workout in. …For many, uneducated people. I don’t mean that in an offensive way, I just mean, they’re uneducated in the other types of workouts available to them …or what might be fun for them.
Working out releases endorphins. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals that give us a reward in our brains. So chances are if you haven’t experienced endorphins from working out in a long time (or ever), you won’t have a reward cycle working in your favor.
And that’s just it. The reward from endorphins produced by physical activity is crucial to increasing your love of exercise.
For example, I was semi-consistent with working out on my own (no class/trainer). Meaning, I’d make-up or search online for my own workouts. Some days I felt like the treadmill, some days were yoga, and other days were dumbbells.
My workouts lacked a clear structure or steadiness. I didn’t have a coach or anyone to hold me accountable if I skipped a set or didn’t push myself. I relied on myself to find motivation and complete the workouts, sometimes skipping the gym altogether.
There was a sense of accomplishment in working out and a reward cycle did exist, but not as powerfully as it exists from working out today.
See, I’ve found the perfect type of workout for me. I love lifting heavy weights. Nothing else replaces the brute force of a power clean or barbell front squat. Especially when I know I’m getting better. As I add more weight and move the barbell with ease, I feel strong, powerful, accomplished, and capable.
It makes me feel like a badass.
Finding this took years, however. I’d probably be in so much better shape or able to lift a lot more weight by now if I’d known how much I’d like it years ago.
Think of it this way, once you find an activity that speaks to you in ways that no other has, that’s your green light. Follow it! When you feel an excitement to go do that activity, you’ve found your thing.
But how do you find that perfect workout?
For starters, you must take action. What inspires you? What have you always wanted to try? What looks fun?
If the gym sounds terrible, what about rock climbing, hiking, or swimming?
Here’s a list I put together:
Balance and Flexibility
Strength and Resistance
Do any of these sound fun? Go try it out!
If you are just starting out, you might be asking…
Why is exercising so hard?
Consider that you might not have found something enjoyable enough to outweigh the “hardness” of working out. Also, if you are just starting or restarting after a long break from exercise, your body isn’t used to the strain you are putting it through. You’ll be sore but that goes away. Start slow, gradually increase the intensity to reduce the chance of overtraining or getting hurt.
If you hate exercise, when you decide to workout, make it the best bang for your buck
I’m a big believer in finding an activity that works with your lifestyle. But, If you still hate exercise, chances are you don’t want to be exercising for long periods of time. If you’re looking for fast results, choose a type of workout that will get you to your goals in the most efficient way.
Weight training, circuit training, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) have proven to be efficient workouts that give an after burn effect.
Many gyms offer these styles of classes. CrossFit is based on these models and combining them in new ways to make each class different.
New gyms popping up also follow this weight/HIIT/circuit format. It’s been proven to be successful for many people. So, if you are looking for the most efficient way to exercise in the shortest amount of time for results, this is your best bet.
To get the best bang for your buck, have a clear plan for your workout.
To do that you can:
- Write down your workout before going to the gym
- Know what you want to accomplish above all else
- Go to a pre programmed class (i.e. CrossFit, Orange Theory, F45)
- Hire a trainer to do all of that for you
Upgrade your gym
My gym is expensive. I’m paying for a big space, nice equipment, and most importantly, a coach that walks us through the class every day. They provide instruction and feedback, while giving personalized recommendations for injuries or other limitations.
Like I mentioned earlier, when I worked out on my own, I enjoyed it but was never as consistent or disciplined as I am today. During my workout classes (CrossFit/functional fitness), our phones are put away, we give full attention to the coach, and there is complete focus on the workout. We minimize distractions, do the work with our best effort, and get it done.
You might still be wondering…
Why do people enjoy exercising?
It’s a number of things. The dopamine hit of accomplishing something you haven’t done before, the sustained energy throughout the day, the endorphin rush, belonging to a community, getting stronger, just generally feeling like a badass… It’s very individual.
Exercise is a form of self-care to me. It’s a way for me to do something good for myself to start the day. Then, I’m able to focus on providing for others at work, at home, or anywhere else in my life.
If the above options weren’t enough to help you change your tune from hating to loving exercise, here’s your “when all else fails” alternative strategies to lose weight.
Hire a coach
When you’ve tried other things in the past with no success, it might be time to hire a personal health coach. Talking to a health coach will go deeper into what you’re feeling, how you’re thinking, and help you uncover new possibilities you didn’t see before.
This is the most personalized help you can get. A coach can take you to new levels and is oftentimes a great option for you if you hate exercise.
Had I gotten a coach in the beginning, it wouldn’t have taken me years to figure out how to start, to find a workout I love, to make a commitment, and build my healthy habits.
- A coach inspires you and holds you to a higher standard than you hold yourself.
- A coach will give you perspective you never would have thought on your own.
- And, a coach will be your personal guide on your weight loss, health, and fitness journey.
Get your steps in
Walking elevates your heart rate and is a good way to boost your calorie burn if you’re trying to lose weight. Walking 30 minutes a day can burn 150 calories. That’s 1050 additional calories a week or over 4000 a month. 1 lb = 3500 calories, so by walking 30 minutes a day you would lose about a pound / month.
A good way to put this into practice is to spend 15 minutes after every meal walking. Three meals a day means 45 minutes of walking. Grab your favorite audiobook or podcast and head outside. If you miss a meal, no big, you’ve got two others as backup.
Focus on diet and nutrition.
Eating right is hard for a lot of people. I’ll be honest, it was hard for me too and still is some days. I mean, when you can drive to any establishment at almost any hour of the day and order anything you want, it’s too easy! Who wouldn’t opt for the easy route? I get it.
There will always be temptations around us but the way we avoid indulging is to make healthy eating even easier than the unhealthy options.
Do you know what you are eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner tomorrow?
If you don’t, you’re setting a trap for yourself. What typically happens when hunger strikes? Do you spend time making yourself a healthy meal or reach for the first thing you can find to feed the hunger?
Meal planning and prepping ahead of time has helped so many people who’d normally fall prey to the temptations of donuts in the office, the coworker with the homemade cookies, or grandma’s famous cinnamon rolls (well, I’d probably make an exception for the famous cinnamon rolls, more on that in a sec).
Take the time to plan that out, don’t wait for tomorrow.
The most successful meal preppers do their prepping when they have the time and energy, usually on Sunday.
Here’s how it goes:
- Make a plan of what you want to eat.
- Grocery shop, gather all your ingredients.
- Set your kitchen up for easy cooking. Here’s the best tools for a quick, painless meal prep.
- Clean, chop, and batch cook your protein, smart carbs, and veggies.
- Portion out your servings into containers.
- Place in the fridge for your week.
The truth is, you are human and you are always going to enjoy the yummy treats. It’s about finding a balance between enjoying those and creating sustainable eating habits for the other 90% of your day.
But eating healthy doesn’t mean you must go all or nothing. You can still have pizza, ice cream, chocolate, or whatever you love. It’s about doing so in moderation.
So when grandma makes the cinnamon rolls, enjoy every bite.
When I go out to eat, I focus more on how much I eat based on hunger cues than the food I order. This means eating until I’m almost full or not eating past feeling full. If you only eat out once in a while, it’s certainly okay to use that as a time to treat-yo-self.
So eat that pasta, get that bottle of wine, and when you’ve gotten your steps in, enjoy that dessert. Once in a while isn’t going to break the calorie bank.
To sum it up…
- Check your mindset around exercise and change your narrative
- Find the best workout for you
- Opt for an efficient type of exercise
- Upgrade the gym you go to
- Hire a coach
- Walk 30 minutes a day
- Focus on food consumption (nutrition) > workouts