What To Do When You Hate Working Out

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I'm going to confess something: I've only seen a handful of Gilmore Girls episodes. I know, I know. But  I've heard a good many of them because one family member or another will be finishing off an episode while I'm pottering around putting on makeup or adding the finishing touches to a little watercolor sketch before work. It seems like every time I start listening, either Lorelai or Rory or Sookie is crying and I swear there's never been a show that is more tear-charged than Gilmore Girls seems to be. But I get it. I mean, I become that weepy woman anytime it comes time to actually purposely exercise. Okay, maybe I don't cry real tears. But I very very strongly dislike the act of purposely getting all sweaty and out of breath. My challah-bread figure is testament to this fact.

Some people can trick themselves into liking exercise because of the buzz that comes after it. I like that buzz too. It's a deranged, triumphant, primal little buzz like when you finally shift your weight off the foot you've been sitting on and all the blood comes rushing back in. It's painful but you're sort of cheering for the temporarily blocked veins that have now broken free. That doesn't mean you voluntarily let your foot go to sleep so you can have the awful pleasure of buzzing it awake again. But that is, apparently, how some people view work-outs. I don't. I begrudgingly admit the post-work-out high exists. It isn't, however, compelling enough to be the sole cause of getting un-athletic Me to work out. I don't identify with those other people either - the ones who work out for the pleasure of seeing their body grow more and more gorgeous and toned. Of course I'd like to look a little less like an over-risen pan of rolls and a little more like, I don't know, a churro? Something long and lean and glimmering. But when it comes down to it, rolls feel like home. And I've made peace with that fact. So no, the exertion high and the goddess-like figure aren't the driving force behind my campaign to purposely get exercise. I guess I'm sort of in the parenting stage with my body. Like a mother who makes her kid eat green beans because she knows they're good for him, I'm trying to parent my body into being okay with the idea of a daily workout of some variety. Why? Because it's good for me. I keep holding out this wild hope that one day my body will come to like exercise the same way I've come to like certain foods I once viewed with suspicion. So far we haven't made much headway in liking it, but I've done it and that's half the battle. So for the rest of my human family who loves food more than they love getting fit, here are some ways I've found to trick yourself into having fun while doing the right thing for your body:

1.) Park faraway - I'm a huge fan of the European method of getting in your steps while doing something you like (i.e. heading to the bakery for a croissant). Biking instead of walking, walking instead of driving. That kind of thing. If you're going to a coffee shop, for instance, why not park a little distance away - maybe at the far end of the down-town - and walk the distance? This is an easy way to get in a couple miles and since the activity is attached to something you actually want (coffee), I am always eager.

2.) Take a walk - Ever find yourself with a little free time between appointments, after getting off work, or while waiting to meet with a friend? Rather than browsing Instagram on your phone for the spare twenty minutes, why not hang out at a park, or find a new section of your city to explore by foot? Even if you're at home, I'm positive you could spare some time usually spent at your computer to get some sunshine. Invite a friend over and take a walk. You'll be talking just as fast as you usually would. The difference is that you'll be active instead of sedentary.

3.) Change it up - I think boredom is the thing that has killed more would-be exercisers than anything else. At least, boredom is probably the main reason I've always given up after a while, second only to the fact that I don't actually like working out. To keep advance of the Boredom Express, I find Youtube to be an invaluable resource in providing endless versions of "working out." Some of my favorites are beginner Zumba videos, Blogilates, and Tiffany Blair's workouts. I've found that if I constantly switch up how I'm working out, it staves off the deathly ennui of having to do the dang thing. Choose the short videos as well, and group several together to build a workout for a short attention span. I can push through if I know the video ends in three minutes. Sure, there's another video right after, but it's not the same as seeing "27 more minutes" on your Youtube video.

4.) Make it fun - I know people roll their eyes at play-list building, but there's nothing like a good list of all the songs you actually love, the songs that get you pumped up, the songs that just feel like you (looking at you, "Classic") to make rolling through your workout a little less horrible. Last week I grabbed my visiting sister-in-law to do a leg workout with me just so we could compare notes on how sore we were the next day - turns out we actually weren't that sore at all, but the fact that we spent the entire video talking about how sore we thought we'd be made it far more entertaining than usual.


I don't love exercising yet. I do love walking long distances to get a blueberry muffin. I do like walking miles through a museum. I do enjoy long talks with a pile of friends while tromping down a coast-line. Find what you enjoy doing and do it. Don't try to be a jogger if you hate jogging. Don't try to be a yoga master if your mind bunny-trails. Don't make strengthening your body a process you despise by choosing things that don't suit you. But I'm going to use my mom voice for a minute: get out there somehow, because it's good for you.

2 comments

  1. I LOVE Classic -- and had never seen the music video before today -- and LOVE the music video too. :D I almost never hear the song on the radio or on Pandora. I might have to remedy that by buying it off Amazon.... :)

    Also, I agree with your advice. I think the only way to really stick with being active is to find a routine you love. I'm fond of strolling through the streets of my city, and am grateful for the opportunity to walk to my college campus; I also love yoga, and find that it's done so much for me -- I'm flexible and I have much better posture now than I did a year ago. Since I don't do really difficult forms of yoga every day, I haven't seen a huge improvement in my strength, but I can tell that my body looks more toned now than it used to.

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