In today’s world of all-out, maximum intensity, if you don’t throw up you didn’t work out hard enough mentality, thousands of people new to exercise and its benefits are falling by the wayside because their initial experience with exercise was downright awful. When people try to change their activity level or modify their food intake, is their affection for it? Have they found some likeness to the behavior modification that will drive them to make it a permanent change? We’ve all heard the saying, “something worth doing won’t be easy”, and that’s all good but if you develop a negative association with that “thing” you’re doing, the likelihood of regressing back to a previous behavior will only increase.
Here’s an example: you walk into “Big Box Fitness”, the local gym down the street to start exercising again after a long hiatus following your college years. You decide to hire a personal trainer for some guidance, expertise, and some additional accountability. After a brief introduction, the personal trainer puts you through something resembling a combination of the hardest workout you’ve ever done in your life with the worst hangover you’ve ever experienced. Up until this point, the media has led you to believe that unless you work out to the point of absolute exhaustion, you’re not working hard enough. Of course, this message conflicts with your current state of “this sucks, and I feel awful”, so you begin to doubt yourself. Some people, especially former athletes or military personnel, have the capacity to push through and become stronger mentally and physically, but what happens to the high percentage of people that don’t fall into either category?
A few people will stick it out for a while, feeling pressured by the overwhelming expectations created by the media and maybe even a few will work out like this for the rest of their lives, and that’s great. That being said, a vast majority of the general population will immediately develop a negative association with that extremely uncomfortable feeling they experienced the first time with their personal trainer. From that point on, everything from personal trainers, to exercise in general will carry a stigma in their eyes until they build the courage to try again.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
I’m all for hard work, and I do believe that change takes time, effort, and a good plan, but we need to give ourselves an opportunity to develop affection for that change. Not overdoing it initially is critical for developing a positive attitude towards any behavioral modification, especially exercise. Find a way to enjoy exercise or enjoy eating an apple instead of a candy bar. If you’re looking for a fresh start for exercise, try going for a long walk with a friend through some moderate terrain. The conversation and scenery will work wonders towards distracting you from the elevated heart rate that would otherwise feel foreign and somewhat uncomfortable.
Do You Have Affection for Exercise?
The bottom line is this: sometimes you need to work smarter, not harder, and stack the deck in your favor to develop a positive relationship with exercise and healthy eating. If you’ve already done this, reach out to someone and reinforce their efforts, we need more positivity in this world.
Yours in Wellness,
Prevention over Treatment