By NATASHA KHALID
To exercise consistently, is all but an easy task. You need to discipline yourself and pursue it with persistence. Here, I will share with you how I not only learned to make it a part of my routine but also to love exercise, when all else had failed.
I have always been a couch potato by nature, yet I breezed through my younger years mostly due to higher levels of activity as compared to now. It was only after puberty that people started pointing out my weight issues – the estrogen induced fat pads here and there. I then would occasionally exercise or walk a bit. Never did this turn into a habit. I had a love for food, yet an equal love for fashion. To not only wear clothes, but look fine in them, you need to be in shape and for that, exercising was a must. I always looked upon it as work and hence would never develop a persistent urge to continue doing it. That, in turn, resulted in no weight loss whatsoever and extreme frustration.
I wasn’t alone. The problem is, many women like me hate working out because it is all cited for the wrong reasons. Studies have shown that on any given day, nearly 45 percent of women are on a diet and 83 percent of college-age women are on a diet (regardless of how skinny they are).
This negative message portrays exercise as something we should force our bodies to do, whether we like it or not, to meet an impossible standard. It’s fitness as the modern corset.
Over time and experience, I developed a certain level of love for exercise and ever since that day, the world around me changed. There are two ways to increase the enjoyment in your workout: You need to minimize repetitiveness and maximize gratification. Another clue: the latter doesn’t involve checking heart rates or concerning yourself with aerobic thresholds.
“Explore doing things you loved to do as a kid, things that were naturally athletic” says Ingrid Bacci, author of The Art of Effortless Living (Vision Works). “Rolling on the floor or down a hill, wrestling, running, rollerblading…it’s all about feeling your body and feeling the elements — water, wind, earth — against your body.”
Researchers even say that engaging in fun physical activities seems to have a stress-reducing component that goes beyond ordinary exercise. But only you can define fun for you. So to learn how to love exercise, try to find out what amuses you and keeps you going. If you’re a social animal, maybe try out group activities such as walking, team volleyball, square dancing, a running club or soccer. Or maybe keep an exercise partner for constant motivation and stimulation.
If the wild calls to you, consider mountain biking or trekking. For those who crave singular, intense tasks, try rock-climbing or marathons. But the key is to investigate experiment and try a variety of activities to discover you and learn how to love exercise.
Once you`re truly motivated, then make that physical activity a part of your lifestyle. You can take a week or a day off from it but promise yourself to get back on track right after the break. This way, not only will you stay in shape but also health wise, fitness will be at your door step.
Another way to learn to love exercise is to keep it local. Many people feel they need to join a gym and then have transport issues. As for me I started walking in the little space outside my house and that I started to enjoy it with my headphones on, listening to my kind of music rather than settling for some weird songs in a gym. That way I learned to enjoy my walk time. I would walk while my favorite radio show was on air. This not only helped me lose weight but also spend some quality time catching up on my hobby.
Another factor that worked for me as motivation was having an exercise partner. My friend and I would text each other whenever we exercised. Keeping a check on each other`s workout hours and daily consumption helped tremendously. Initially I would exercise only because I had to and not because I wanted to. Now, it’s turned around and I feel ugly not burning what I ate.
The overall conclusion on how to learn to love your exercise is to stop trying hard and focus on what your body tells you. Do what it enjoys most. Painful exercises will make you hate the thought of a workout. Let yourself be interested in how you feel and as you do that you can do whatever you are doing with less effort and tension. And more fun!
Remember don’t exercise because you have to shed some extra calories, do it because it detoxifies you from almost all aliments. It keeps you mentally active.
I asked RJ Sophie of Radio1FM91 and blogger Umair Mirza regarding how they make their daily workout interesting for themselves, and this is what they had to say:
RJ SOPHIE: Two years ago I wasn’t active when it came to exercising. After doing all those crunches, squats and etc. I came across plain dancing. I had to discover what works best for me and it was dancing because music is something I can relate to. So I take out 45 minutes of my time daily where I have my own playlist and I dance thinking I am on stage and have to entertain a crowd. I make it interesting for myself by doing different genres of dance like Latin, Spanish, aerobics or just bhangra when I feel like. The Mantra is to dance like no one’s watching.
To de-stress via workout, dancing is the key for me. Besides that, to remain slim and trim I do keep a check on what I eat. Even though my diet has two cheat days.
Umair Mirza: I wish I would exercise regularly, but when I do I make sure I only exercise! I don’t have any workout playlist and I have yet to take my first gym selfie. Nothing’s more fun than burning out the Motapa [fat] No?! 😀 To keep myself motivated I keep reminding myself that there is enough entertainment in life; let’s just work out for that one hour.