Changing Your Mindset: With These 3 Tips You will Start to Love Exercise
Being in a human body is complicated. Sometimes we loathe the things that we know are good for us. Or we do them but develop weird relationships around them. We do this with things like eating well, resting, and of course – exercise.
Working out. We know it’s good for us. Not just good for us, but necessary for a healthy body and mind. Regular physical activity offers so many benefits including, but definitely not limited to, hormone regulation, mood-boosting, better sleep, increased cardiovascular health, weight control, more energy, and potentially longer life.
Since most of us aren’t running around hunting, gathering, and doing all the things our ancestors did, we have to carve out time in our days to get the movement we need to be healthy. Especially if we’re sitting in front of computers all day.
We can know all that but still might have a complicated relationship with exercise. We dread it, or overdo it, or can’t find a routine that works. So how do you change your relationship with exercise so that you can be your best self? Let’s find out.
One of the first steps you can take to change your relationship with physical activity is actually a mental exercise. A language is a powerful tool. It shapes our reality, how we relate to others, and how we relate to ourselves. Changing the words you use when you talk to yourself can help you develop a different relationship with the subject at hand. Like exercise.
What words come to mind when you think about exercise? Are there a lot of “shoulds”, or “I used to…”, phrases that feel limiting or make you feel down on yourself? Let’s try to change that.
You can try shifting should statements like “I should really work out today” with something like “I will feel great when I work out today” or “It’s important that I move my body today.”
Even the word exercise can be triggering for people, so how about trying something else? You don’t have to use the word exercise when talking about physical activity, you can also try using something as simple as “movement”. “My goal is to get some movement in today.” This simple change can help take the pressure off you, and may expand your idea of what an acceptable form of physical activity is. Movement can mean walking, dancing, having sex. All of these things offer physical activity, even if they don’t necessarily feel like “exercise”.
Focus on How You Feel
Society and media have made it easy to have a distorted body image. So often exercise is approached with the idea of wanting to look a certain way, and that’s ok. It’s completely reasonable to want to change your body, but what if you changed your perspective a bit?
Instead of focusing on how you look, try focusing on how you feel. When you work out do you feel happier? More motivated? Energized? These are incredible rewards.
Focusing on how you feel also means you’ll be less likely to be disappointed when you don’t get results as fast as you want. When you have it in mind that exercise helps you feel better, you’re more likely to keep doing it.
You can also try focusing on what other areas of life exercise can make better. When you get regular physical activity, are you a better partner or friend? Does it help you focus on your job or school? Do you feel happier overall? These are great incentives, and more sustainable than focusing on body image.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
When you think of exercise, you might think of sportswear ads. People glistening sweat while pushing overtires with more abs than you knew were humanly possible. That’s not the reality for most people.
Maybe you’re a former or current athlete, or you’re someone who enjoys really difficult forms of exercise – great. If not, also great. The thing with working out is that you have to meet yourself where you’re at. Intense strength training is not for everyone. What kind of workouts can you add into your life that feels sustainable, and more importantly – fun?
That’s right, we said fun. Exercise can absolutely be enjoyable, it’s better when it is! Think about when you were a kid. You might have run around, playing games, frolicking on the playground, getting so much movement in without putting much thought into why. All you knew is that you were having fun.
Is there a form of physical activity that can bring you back to that state now? When it comes to physical activity, if you’re having fun, you’re more likely to keep doing it. You have something else driving you besides obligation.
Everyone’s idea of fun is different, but here are some enjoyable forms of exercise:
- Dance class
- Acro yoga
- Adult sports like softball or soccer
- Walking while listening to an interesting podcast
Now make your own list. What sort of activities can you bring into your life or do more of that you enjoy? What forms of exercise make you feel good? When you shift your perspective, your whole life changes. Now get moving!
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.