As a physics student in high school, I was surprised to learn that work is defined as the interplay between a force and a mass. In plainer terms, work is an expression of how much directed energy it takes to cause an object of a certain size to move (displace) over some distance. The greater the force, object or distance, the more work is being done.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see why exercising is called working out. We haul our bodies up mechanical flights of stairs, trot them along treadmills, and lift heavy weights.
If the sound of working out is unappealing but you know you need to stick to your fitness goals to stay healthy then try reframing your approach to seduce yourself into wanting to sweat out those toxins.
As a college student in the eastern Alsacian region of France, I visited local families there and in Germany who hiked the mountainous areas every weekend to keep fit. These traditions went back generations and nobody I talked to could imagine life without regular long walks surrounded by nature’s soothing beauty.
More recently, I watched a recorded interview with an Asian meditation master who commented that Americans approach yoga as vigorously as if it were football. The idea is to stretch and tone, relax into a pose and hold it awhile before going into another. Grunting and groaning were very non-traditional behaviors, he said, and were indications that the practitioner might be trying just a tad too hard.
If you are out of shape, you didn’t get that way overnight, did you? Likewise, it will take time to reform your body. Forget being in a hurry for results and focus on “the journey” instead. Congratulate and reward yourself over things you did today that you couldn’t do yesterday.
The best way to approach fitness is to become a lean, mean workout machine as a child and carry it forward to old age. But, given today’s obesity epidemic, many children never develop a responsive cardio-vascular system or build muscles and connecting tissues.
Still, it’s never too late to embrace self-improvement goals. I can’t count the number of times I fell off the exercise wagon only to climb back up again – eventually.
The late, great businessman and motivational speaker Jim Rohn had a lot to say about success. For example:
“The only way it gets better for you is when you get better. Better is not something you wish, it’s something you become.”
Below are five tips on how to adjust your mindset when it comes to fitness routines to make working out something you crave, not something to avoid.
- Excercise time is your special time: claim it.
There are few better ways to boost your health than getting regular exercise so give time spent getting fit your highest priority. Plan realistic workout slots and put them on your calendar. Get clothes you love to wear while going through the paces. Set up an inviting workout nook in your home if you don’t have a gym membership. Turn the danged phone off for a while – unless you have kids or need to be on-call, of course.
- Go for quality, not quantity.
I know you love your Fitbit. I love my windup egg timer. But, some days, the numbers just don’t add up. I may fully intend to run-walk (or walk-run) on the treadmill for 20 minutes but if my body has other ideas, I reserve the right to slow the pace ‘way down or stop completely. All of my favorite fitness instructors advise listening to your body and adapting your workout accordingly. Contrarywise, some days I am full of drive and want to beat my personal best. The important part of exercising, as Nike put it so aptly, is, “Just do it.”
- Do things you like to do.
If you got into roller skating as a kid, why not give it a whirl as an adult? It’s great exercise, as is ice skating. Enjoy tossing a frisbee around the dog park? Go for it. Like to bike? Hike? Figure out which healthy pursuits you could incorporate into your real-life schedule for at least some of your weekly workouts. The more you like doing something, the more likely you are to stick with it. Couple-dancing is a great way to socialize and benefit from your partner’s moral support.
- Eat after exercising.
The whole point of getting healthier is to feel better, right? It’s important to take on some calories after exercising to build back up the body’s stores of glycogen, energy accessed from food. This prevents the muscle cells from breaking down to provide more fuel and leave you feeling weak and tired. Don’t go there.
- Change it up.
To stay engaged and eager about fitness activities, vary your routines. Changing your focus from strength training to cardio development to flexibility to meditation spices up workout sessions and keeps you out of a physiological rut where you aren’t exercising all your body’s essential systems. Feel free to challenge yourself by adding weight or repetitions – but allow yourself to fall back into a more comfortable zone without guilt or remorse. “Train, don’t strain,” my swim coach always said.