Doing exercises you don’t like can negate your efforts

In my last post I talked about how important it is for you to believe you can achieve what you want for your body and health—for if you don’t believe it, you won’t achieve it! One of the biggest things most people stumble with once they are in good mental alignment (at peace with where they are, know what they want and why they want it, and have a strong belief they can have it) is the physical actions they believe they need to take in order to help bring about the changes they desire. Since we are physical beings we do need to take some physical actions to bring some things about. Or maybe the best way to think about this is the mental actions help the body move in the desired direction and the physical actions help speed things up—like hitting the fast forward button. However, since most people start with the physical actions and never tend to the mental side of things they tend to get the wrong idea about how much physical activities are needed for change since they are usually mentally working against themselves (because of negative programming).

The exercises you choose should be the next logical steps in your plan to achieve your desired goal but because most people haven’t spent much time investigating the mental side—this includes most trainers and fitness experts—we learn limited ideas about what to do. And when you choose to do something you believe you need to do but you don’t enjoy that activity you are potentially setting yourself up for failure. One of two things will usually happen. Either you do the activity and feel negative stress because you don’t enjoy that activity and possibly negate the positive effects of exercise since you will be putting stress (physical—exercise) on top of stress (emotional—doing something you don’t like) or you don’t do the activity (because you don’t like it) and feel guilty that you didn’t do it, which causes negative stress. Darned if you do, darned if you don’t! You may also feel that because you didn’t do your “magic” exercise you won’t get your results now. Now you are affecting the belief aspect of your goal achievement by believing you didn’t jump through the right hoops to earn the success you innately deserve.

Since doing an activity you don’t like may work against you it is important to tend to your beliefs surrounding the activities you think you need to do. What I suggest my clients do is to write a list of everything they think they need to do in order to get to their goal. This includes what type and how much resistance and cardiovascular training, what to eat and not eat, what to drink and not drink, how much to sleep, how much to visualize, etc. This list is your current action plan. Next to each action mark everything you enjoy doing (or would enjoy doing). Next, make a mark next to things you are neutral on. And lastly, make a mark next to everything you don’t like (or won’t like doing). You can put these in separate lists if you like.

With the list of things you don’t like doing, you want to go through each one of those and challenge them. You have two choices here: either eliminate them from your list or find a way to look at them in a positive light so you can at least be neutral about them but it is advisable to have a list of thing you enjoy. To eliminate an activity you can challenge this by asking yourself where you learned that this has to be done in order to get to your goal. It was more than likely taught to you by someone who never understood all the things that add up to success (mainly understanding the mental and emotional side of change). Ask yourself if where you learned the need to do this exercise was from someone who included all the mental aspects into their prescription of this activity to achieve the same results you are looking for. Another way to challenge this is to see if you can find evidence (online or personally) of someone else having achieved your same results without having to this activity. The goal is to be able to let go of this activity (remove it from your list) without feeling bad about it.

If you want to keep this activity then you need to become excited about it. One way to do this is to ask yourself what positive things you will get from doing this activity. Think about things outside of just the physical changes that relate to your initial goal. For example, if walking or running is something on your list you might see that being outside in nature is a huge plus. Or maybe you will improve your stamina and cardiovascular system. Maybe it is a great chance for you to spend time with a loved one (like on a long walk). Think of things this activity allows you to get to do. Another way to challenge this activity is to ask yourself what you think this activity is doing for you to help you get to your goal—like how many calories you think you will burn or what muscles you might develop or tighten up. Knowing this information might help you feel better about it but if you don’t then you want to take the results you think you will get and try to find other activities that you enjoy that would produce similar results. For example, dancing could burn the same amount of calories as running and even work the same muscles. Gardening can work your arms and core as well as burn a crazy amount of calories. One thing I try to remind my clients is that the gym was created to help us move in stressful movements that are similar to those our ancestors did when they had to fend for themselves but since we don’t depend on doing those same activities anymore to live we needed a way to replicate those same stresses. Point is, machines and traditional exercises aren’t much different than doing physical activities outside or even in house—like doing laundry (running up and down stairs with a basket of laundry and then having to fold that laundry).

Once you have eliminated, found inspiration for or replaced your actions then rewrite your list of actions. Your list of actions should inspire you. They should feel like the next logical step for you to get to your goals. I would also encourage you to do the same things for those activities you are neutral about. Even if the payoff for doing those activities are a sense of accomplishment, that could be enough to get excited about it. Also remember that when you are excited about where you are going and no longer dwelling in the past then the actions that you once disliked (because you were taking them to fix a problem) may become something you would enjoy now since they are no longer a conflict of programming. What you do should match your focus. Lastly, if you can get your emotional state surrounding your actions to match the emotional payoff of achieving this goal then those actions will pay greater dividends than anything else you do.

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