“Work harder, not smarter”. “All you need is hard work”. “Hard work pays off”.
Heard it before? I sure have. I’ve said it too… very often in the gym.
So, question for you…
Why do we often associate exercising with having to be difficult, long, and painful?
In the moment with sweating dripping down our faces, our breathing deep, and our minds thinking “Man, that Boston Cream would sure be nice right now” or “Netflix and I are going to be friends after this”, it often does feel brutal.
In reading Greg McKeown’s book, Effortless, he talks about pairing perceived positive tasks with perceived negative tasks. He started this activity with his wife and their discussion of their finances. This meeting was once an activity they dreaded. They often skipped these meetings or delayed them. So, they instead started pairing them with enjoyable activities. He bought a bottle of wine, cooked a nice meal, she put on good music and they altered this stressful “meeting” into an enjoyable date night. They begin to stick with their weekly financial meetings more and more.
Why can’t we do this with fitness?
I have a client that lost 120lbs over the course of a year and a half. Yup… 120lbs!
He started with 30 minutes on a bike. That’s it.
He told me how much he dreaded the bike some days and he felt like time would seemingly stop.
Then, he began to watch his favourite shows while on the bike. Eventually, the association with enjoying a great show and peddling on the bike became a coinciding feeling.
He dreaded these bike sessions less and less and began to look forward to biking. If not his favourite show, he was able to conquer some of the movies that were on his ever so long Netflix list.
He also found he would get so into the show, his mind would distract from his heavy breathing and thoughts of donuts, even for a few brief seconds, which helped alter the perceived brutality of the bike rides.
Now, you still need to put in the work. You still need to bike, or run, lift, whatever activity you choose. By pairing it with another activity that is enjoyable like a Netflix show, podcast, audiobook (Praise be to Audible!), it doesn’t have to be as dreadful, boring, or cumbersome as we might have perceived.
Our exercise can be associated with positive outcomes during, not just the positive results after. By creating positive associations with the process of exercise, you can create a sustainable, enjoyable experience to look forward to when working out.
We can challenge the perception that we must “grind” to see results with exercise and that this grind must be as dry and painstaking as possible.
We can enjoy the process that get us the results we want!