Exercise is something that I truly enjoy. I haven't always been able to say this... it used to be something I viewed as merely a means to an end. I worked out for aesthetic purposes only. I wanted to look lean and toned, but ironically, I also went for the type of exercise that was the least beneficial for physique change (cardio rather than weight/resistance training... but that is a topic for another post! For benefits of weight training read this post and how to get started read this post.
Having been on the other side of the fence, I feel I can speak from the perspective of credibility when I say that with time and trial, anyone can find a way to enjoy physical activity in some form or another. It won't necessary be what someone else loves, but that is OK! Regardless of how much someone else enjoys an activity, if you dread doing it, don't force yourself to do it! Just keep looking for that one that makes you feel good while you are doing it and after. You have to #LikeHowYouMove, or you will never be consistent.
So where do you start if you don't enjoy working out?
Find your Non-Scale Victories!! What are those? NSVs (non-scale victories) are all the reasons why you choose a healthier option (in this case, exercising), even when it might not be what you feel like doing at the time. In short, they are those victories that are not measurable by a scale. They aid in your health journey by creating a sense of positivity around adopting healthy behaviors. They add momentum to the action steps you are taking in the direction of your goals. They are much more potent to long-term achievement of your goals than is a reliance on willpower or motivation. Everyone will have their own unique NSVs.
A Few of My Personal Non-Scale Victories:
I love the feeling I get when I lift heavy things! I noticed a sense of confidence that developed after I started weight training which was different than the confidence I felt when I was successful in other areas of my life. I believe it stems from the fact that I am able to see and feel myself physically accomplishing something. It gives me the awareness that I am in control of my surrounds and demonstrates that God designed us to be strong and capable! You gain a sense of mastery and prove to yourself that change is possible. By investing in yourself in this way, you are instilling a sense of value—in short you are teaching yourself that you are important and worth investing in!
Tracking progress over time.
Tracking your personal records is a great way to measure progress! By keeping track of your personal bests for time, speed, weight, etc. there is a satisfaction like nothing else when you see that you have made an improvement. It can be the very thing that motivates you to keep pushing, even when you feel like giving up.
There is a well known term that I'm sure you've heard before... the "runner's high." I don't find this feeling of euphoria to be exclusive to runners! If I'm in a bad mood, it always helps me get my mind right. Whether I'm strength training, doing HIIT, or jogging, I literally feel a rush of endorphins about 10 minutes into my workout. It usually carries with me for the rest of my day! I also find that my stress levels improve after I exercise.
Improved sleep and energy.
I would argue that exercise is one of the healthiest way to increase energy levels. For me, it is essential for my ability to function with chronic fatigue. If I don't exercise regularly, my fatigue goes from bad to worse. Trust me when I say that I totally get the initiation battle that people face when they say that they are too tired to exercise. The struggle is real, but once you push through the phase of getting the ball rolling, momentum starts working for, not against you. When you practice routine physical activity, you will notice an improvement in your sleep quality, which restores and recharges your energy reserves. Exercise is a much better solution to boosting energy than is relying on caffeine and sweets.
Prevention of illness and disease.
Exercise is proven to boost immunity, help reduce the risk of preventable illnesses (like heart disease and diabetes), lower stress levels, and preserve lean tissue and bone mass—just to name a few. Research studies have even shown that exercise may reduce the risks of certain types of cancer! God calls us to be faithful steward of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and preventing illness definitely falls under this command!
Benefits to health conditions.
Besides just being one of the best ways to ward off preventable illness, exercise can help those with chronic illnesses. Exercise holds benefits for both physical and mental medical conditions. For those who are on daily medications to manage certain medical conditions, it is possible that routine physical activity may help to offset the need for medications long-term, or at least allow for lower doses. While you will need to discuss any changes with you doctor first, certain conditions like chronic pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mood disorders can respond favorably to routine physical activity—even low intensity activity like walking or swimming. (Note: do make sure to have a medical provider clear you for and advise you on what kinds of exercise would be safe and appropriate for you!)
All of these non scale victories essentially revolve around the concept that, in order to stay committed for the long-haul, you have to find a big enough "why." When you have a compelling enough motivator, you will be committed enough to find work-arounds, even when things get difficult. (For more on finding your "why", check out Katie's new book Nourish!)
Did any of these jump out to you as things that might help you stay committed to a consistent exercise routine? Can you think of any other NSVs that weren't mentioned that have been key for you to staying consistent? Let us know below!!
Stayed tuned for Part 2!