Exercise is such a struggle for me. My thoughts are more like a toddler/teenage tantrum saying, “You can’t make me!” when it comes to putting in my time at the gym.
At least this is a belief I carried for YEARS and kept on constant repeat in my head. I was SO resistant, and this belief did nothing but keep me stagnant in my quest for health and a better looking butt.
All that changed when I learned I don’t have to believe the crappy thoughts I have, and that I can control my thoughts. You see, our bodies are more than capable of exercising, even if we aren’t in stellar shape. Our bodies are designed to move! Most of the time, the problem with exercise is in our mind.
Since I’ve become a life and body image coach, I’ve implemented three easy mindset changes that have changed the relationship I have with exercise.
I Replaced Old Thoughts With New Thoughts
As I said, I held onto the thought “I struggle with exercise,” for a long time. But here’s the thing. It’s not a true statement.
I don’t struggle with exercise. That is not provable in a court of law. I’m actually quite capable.
So, when I hear myself repeating that old belief, I have a new thought that replaces it. Now I say, “I’m becoming a woman who takes care of her body with exercise.” That thought feels so much more loving and encouraging. You can do it, too!
Pay attention to what your inner voice is telling you on a regular basis. When you notice the negative thought, start to challenge it. Think of a thought you’d rather think instead…one that’s more encouraging and loving.
Here are a few other new thought starters…
“I’m learning to…” ex: I’m learning to make exercise part of my daily routine.
“I’m open to…” ex: I’m open to trying to exercise in new ways to see what I enjoy most.
“I’m becoming a woman who…” ex: I’m becoming a woman who takes care of her body by exercising regularly.
“I’m in the process of…” ex: I’m in the process of learning which exercises make my body feel good.
I Stopped Making Transactions With My Body
Our society engrains in our heads the notion of “no pain, no gain,” and the diet and exercise industries depend on our failure!
That’s right! If we’re successful with our diet or 6-weeks-to-a-better-body-boot- camp, then we don’t need them anymore. It’s less money in their pockets.
There have been countless times in my life when I’ve tried a diet or new exercise program for 6 weeks with the expectation that my body will perform…meaning, I will have lost a pant size or the number on the scale will have moved.
That’s a transaction. I’ll do X for Y, and dammit if I don’t get Y, then I’ve failed.
You know what? That’s BS!
Here’s the mindset shift I learned to make instead…
I ask myself, “How can I move my body in a way that feels like love?”
I ask with no expectation of a result except that it will feel good. Being aware of what makes my body feel good and doing it regularly makes it so much easier to “exercise.”
Some days it’s a walk. Some days it’s a restorative yoga class. Some days it’s pilates. Some days it’s a group exercise class. I had to do a lot of experimenting to figure out the things that don’t feel like torture or a slog to get through the door.
To find out what kind of exercise feels like love (and fun) for you, pick an activity and commit to doing it three times. If you don’t love it after three attempts, then you don’t ever have to do it again. The point is that it’s FUN. That it FEELS GOOD. And you know what? It’s much more likely to happen for us when we have that attitude.
And doing something is going to get better results than doing nothing.
Commit To a Non-Negotiable Bare Minimum
The last thing I’ve done to get my body moving (in a way that feels like love), is to determine what my non-negotiable bare minimum is. We all have them. I’m pretty sure most of us feel like brushing our teeth is a non-negotiable, something we’re going to make happen no matter what.
I decided that my bare minimum for exercise is a 10 minute walk. And you know what usually happens? I almost always end up walking for longer than 10 minutes. It’s just getting started that’s difficult. It’s so much easier for me to get out the door when I know that I can stop after 10 minutes.
When I’ve finished my allotted time, I allow myself to check in to see how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling good and want to continue, I do. If not, then I can stop there, and I can be proud that I loved my body enough to get out and do a little something toward living a healthy lifestyle.
These little mind tricks may seem silly to you, but the mind is a very powerful thing. It can propel us forward and it can hold us back. Sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, even if it’s a silly little shift. When it comes to exercise, making it happen is what’s healthy and important, not what we had to do to get there.
Are you wanting to have a better relationship with exercise? Join my in my upcoming small group class, BARE: Winter Kickstart. We’ll talk about all the things I mentioned in this article along with topics on mindful eating, getting a handle on emotional eating, learning to change our negative thoughts, and so much more!
Class begins Nov. 14 and it’s not too late to sign up. I’d love to have you join me!