Exercise for Love and Fun

If you hate exercise, if the entire time you are doing it you repeat “I hate this, I’m hot and sweaty, I feel awful, my knees hurt, thank goodness this is almost over” in part, in entirety or some other negative statement then you are doing your body no good. This negative message is actually an affirmation and you are affirming that you will continue to hate moving your body. While massive amounts of exercise are not necessary to lose weight and gain health, popular television shows to the contrary, moving our body is.

Our bodies are made to move. But in our modern society we are not required to move much at all. In the “olden days” we got more than enough exercise just through our work. Not that we have all sorts of machines that make our lives easier we no longer get that moving as part of our daily routine, so we have to plan it into our lives.

Imagine if you could not move at all. How much more difficult would your life be? Well, we have to move to keep our bodies healthy, to keep our joints lubricated, to keep our muscles strong—just so we can lead a healthy, “normal” life.

Let us be grateful for what we can do and make strides to gain more flexibility, strength and mobility so we can be our best selves today and into our long, healthy futures.

Step 1

Replace any negative affirmations with positive ones. When you catch yourself saying something negative about exercise (and you will—because you have developed a mental habit) turn it around to a positive statement.

  1. On a clean piece of paper, list on the left hand side everything you do not like about moving your body. Write quickly—don’t think about it too much. If you get to the bottom of the page and have more things to write, start a second page—for this process do NOT write on the back.) Use as many pieces of paper as you need to list everything you hate or find unpleasant about exercise and be a specific as possible. Examples: “I hate being sweaty” is general. “I hate sweat running down my face” or “I have when my clothes are all wet from sweat” are more specific.
  2. Look at each negative that you wrote and now on the right side of the paper write something positive to counter it. There may be several things that can counter the negative. In that case, if you can fit them on one line that’s fine, otherwise add them to the bottom of the last page—always keeping them on the right side of the paper. Again, do not use the back of the paper and feel free to start a new page. “Sweating releases toxins and fat from my body” or “I exercise in a cool, pleasant environment” are both possible ways to counter the negative thought about disliking being sweaty.
  3. Once you have written all the positive thoughts, fold the paper(s) in half lengthwise so you only see the positive. Use these positive affirmations whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about moving your body. Say the positive affirmation at least 5 times each time you are aware of a negative thought. Saying them out loud works best—but isn’t necessary. You can say the same positive affirmation over and over or you can choose a variety of them. Choose affirmations that are easy to say, they could rhyme or have a good rhythm or just feel good when you say them. Don’t worry about memorizing them—when you hit on affirmations that feel right for you it won’t take long for them to roll off your tongue!

Step 2

Determine a type of exercise you can enjoy

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about hours a day, only 15-30 minutes is enough—even less in the beginning if you’ve been totally inactive for a long time. Our next mission is to find something you can do that will move your body that you enjoy—or at least tolerate with as few negative affirmations to overcome as possible!

The positive thoughts you wrote down can help you figure this out. The negative ones too, but only look at them for clues, don’t get sucked into thinking negatively!

Using our sweaty example, if what you hate about it is that sweat runs down your face into your eyes then the solution may be as simple as wearing a sweatband. On the other hand if you don’t like how your clothes feel when they get all sweaty then you might want to take advantage of an air-conditioned facility—even if it is just walking at the shopping mall. Or you might try exercising in the water at a pool, lake…or even playing under the sprinklers.

Think fun first! Reflect on what you did as a kid that was fun. Did you like to swing, hoola hoop, ride a bike, play tag with the waves at the beach, play hopscotch or jump rope? As kids we naturally incorporated play with exercise. We moved our bodies and we had FUN. Try some of the things that brought a smile to your face back then. Moving your body doesn’t have to feel like “work!” When we are having fun moving our bodies we are apt to keep it up. There is no “right” or “wrong” here, this is about how YOU feel. What feels good to YOU? That is the best exercise for your weight loss journey.

Maybe you liked to dance as a kid…well, do you like loud pumping music with a strong beat? You might like aerobics or getting out on the dance floor or just rocking out at home. If you prefer a bit calmer music you might try ballroom dancing. If you like country music then give line dancing a try. You can do any of these examples at home or in a formal setting, indoors or outside, with a buddy or alone…I’ve even waltzed by myself!

Loving yourself means honoring your body and finding a way to move it that works for YOU.

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