But What if I Hate Exercise?

hate exercise

Do you hate exercise? I do, probably because I associate the word exercise with boredom. I prefer the term "being active." What is the difference?

Running or walking around and around and around a track wears me out mentally before I even get my walking shoes laced up. Same with the treadmill, stationary bike and the likes of all the other equipment. I can't even entertain myself by changing machines often.

I have tried using my own home stairway as a means of performing the dreaded "E" word. I thought I could blast my 80's music simultaneously and not think about what my body was actually doing. Maybe I could pretend somehow that I wasn't exercising. Not surprisingly, it bored me to tears as well.

When the kids were little, we owned a trampoline. So one day I decided to just go bounce around for awhile in my backyard, alone.  Why did I think this would be any different? Boring!

Why Bother When I Hide My Weight So Well

I know this isn't going to sound like a drawback, but I was blessed with a naturally fast metabolism.  I don't appear to have much extra weight hanging around. I used to be that friend who pours an extra helping of syrup over the triple stack of pancakes that are already loaded down with sweetened fruit.  I used to also be the one in the front of the Starbucks line telling the barista to give me a full-fat chocolate steamed-milk with an extra shot of caramel... and don't forget to cover it in whipped cream. I could eat all this and my weight didn't fluctuate much. As a result, I never developed good fitness habits.

The Light Goes On

Then I hit my late forties. HELLO!! Memories of my mom riding her stationary bike in the family room came flooding back. I had never seen her exercise before. I assumed she hated exercise as well.  I now understand why one day my ultra-thin 57 year old mom bought a used bike, plopped it in front of the television and started pedaling every morning. It seemed crazy to me at the time. Let me just say to all you young'ins out there...getting old ain't fun and it is one of the hardest things with which I have had to cope. 

Though I was still fairly thin, parts of me didn't move like they used to.  My energy levels went south.  It became imperative that I change or I would just keep sliding down the slippery slope of old age.

Still Hate Exercise, But Love Being Active

Even though I still hate exercise, I know that my heart health is important. With my grandmother years approaching, I would also adore being able to actively play with the little ones. So I decided to "Get Active."

I hate exercise, but love dancing. I hate exercise, but love hiking. I hate exercise, but love backpacking. I hate exercise, but love long walks on the beach. Actually, I love walking as long as it's not around a track. I hate exercise, but love Frisbee. I hate exercise, but love swimming. I have added more of this into my life.

Making Better Choices

I still don't belong to a gym, but I have made improvements one small habit at a time.  Here is how it all began.

This is me during a walk on the beach.

#1 Simply Start Doing Something

I remember my mom telling me she started doing sit-ups...in bed...before she even rolled out. Her method was simple. On the first of the month, she did ONE sit up.  That's it.  Then on the second, she did TWO. As fascinating (a polite word for odd) as that sounds, it helped her stay on track. She didn't worry about form.  She didn't worry that all the personal trainers out there would be horrified. She just did her sit-ups.  And she always looked forward to the first of the month when she could start over with just doing one again.

The logic here is sound.  You will never get going if you think you have to start with perfection. Nothing has ever been accomplished perfectly on the very first try - at least that's my belief and I'm sticking to it.

The trick here is just as I said above, START.  Every big change in our life begins with one small change in our habits.  We have to be willing to continue in the face of all obstacles until we can overcome our loathing of this activity. 

But you don't have to choose sit-ups. You can just as easily decide to do two really bad push-ups every morning. Pick something, anything, and simply start today.

Here are a few more ideas:  

  • Park as far away from the door of any building as you can.
  • Take the stairs.  If you work too many floors up, just take one flight and hop on the elevator for the rest.  Build up as you get stronger.
  • Get out of your chair and hand-deliver that message.  Don't always rely on email or texting when you get a chance to walk and stretch.
  • Right after every meal, push against a wall.  Take both hands and try to move the darn thing.  You're obviously not going to get it to budge, but your body doesn't know that.  This is called resistance training. 
  • Are you a mom with kids in school?  Try lifting your child's school backpack a couple times using the bicep curl before handing it to them with a kiss on the cheek.  That will give your arms a work-out.
  • Tell yourself that every time you walk down the hallway in your home, you will only do so by incorporating squats.
  • Whenever you walk past your dining room table, use it to do a couple push-ups.
  • Turn on the tunes and move to the music.  It doesn't even have to be to the beat. Just put those joints and muscles into action. If you don't believe me about not needing rhythm... watch this clip.

#2 Remember, it's not about how you look, rather how you feel

Focusing on weight loss never worked for me.  Concentrate instead on how you want to feel. Make a list.  Review that list to keep you motivated. My list is fairly short.

  1. I want to be healthy enough to travel when I retire.  What good is time off if I can't use it to the fullest.
  2. I want to fall asleep at night next to my husband knowing I've done what I can to stay on this earth long enough to grow really old together.
  3. I want to be able to keep up with my grandkids. I don't want to just sit and watch them swing - I want to swing alongside them and maybe even pump so hard I can win the "who is highest" competition.
  4. I want to keep Alzhiemers at bay as long as possible. In a recent study, findings suggest that even moderate amounts of physical activity may help to slow the progression of this dreaded disease. (Sit up #1, sit up #2, sit up #3...)

So what if I never look like a swimsuit model, I can live with that. At least I will still be able to swim.

#3 When a Little Feels Good, Ramp It Up

Okay, so now you are comfortable doing a few small things.  Your head is in the right place. It's time to ramp it up a notch. Check out the BuzzFeed list of activities to do at home. These are simple routines you can add to your day. 

 There is even a list of 12 movements (notice I didn't use the word "exercises") in The Scientific 7-Minute Workout that fulfills the mandates for high-intensity effort. The New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds has this to say "Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant.  The  upside is, after seven minutes, you're done."

Even I can stand the boredom for 7 whole minutes! I may still hate exercise, but I am beginning to fall in love with the new energetic me.

#4 Nutrition

I know this article is about exercise, but being active and eating properly go hand in hand. Since I also had a rough start early in life with my eating habits, I had much to change in this department as well. The simplest way I have found to immediately improve my diet was to eat my vegetables.

Now It's Your Turn

It's time now for you to start your own strategic way to get active... or call it exercise if you don't mind the word. Remember, it doesn't have to start with a gym membership, or even anything big. Instead, start with a few small habits, write down your list of why your doing them, ramp it up when possible and eat your vegetables.