What does your relationship with exercise and movement look like right now?
Is it something you enjoy doing or does it seem more like a chore?
Do you find yourself craving it or dreading it?
Do you find yourself using words like half to or should when referencing exercise? Like it’s something to check off your list if you can get to it.
Does it often end up at the bottom of your to-do list because it's not something you really want to do?
You see, exercise often gets a bad rap. Everybody thinks it needs to be extreme or you need to do something you don't like to see results.
But it doesn't need to be that way. Exercise can be a great opportunity for self-care, stress relief, and so much more.
Have you ever wondered why exercise is this taboo topic sometimes? Or why you struggle so much to stay consistent with it?
Well today, my goal is to help you see exercise as a gift and an opportunity, or something that you want to do, instead of a chore or something to check off your to-do list.
I’ve created a worksheet for you to help you prioritize more time to focus on YOU and your self-care. If you think you don’t have time for self-care or you want to make time for it but rarely do, then the worksheet is for you.
3 STEPS FOR MAKING EXERCISE A GIFT, NOT A CHORE
FIND YOUR WHY
The first step is finding your why. You see, most people have it all wrong. We need to understand our why for exercise before we do anything else.
Ask yourself this question right now, why do you exercise? Or why do you feel like you have to exercise? Or why do you feel like you should exercise?
In the diagram below you'll see a very common list of whys for exercise. They are all long-term methods such as avoiding disease 20 years down the line or a general statement such as better health or something that is huge and very far off.
But that doesn't really help you exercise today, does it?
Claiming that you want to have better health in 10 years from now does nothing for your motivation to exercise today.
While these are still worthy goals, they are not the best way to motivate yourself for a movement. These goals tend to be almost too far into the future to be motivating right now.
Ask yourself, what exactly does better health mean to you right now? How do you know if you decrease your risk for disease? Having these reasons for exercise often leads us to seeing movement and exercise as a chore instead of a gift.
Let’s change things around a bit shall we?
What if you looked at exercise as a gift instead of a chore. What would be different?
Instead of focusing on the big hairy beast of the long-term goals that seem unattainable right now, what if you focused on the immediate benefits you received from exercise? I know this goes against all we learned about being patient and consistent and everything worth having takes hard work, persistence, and time, but hear me out on this one.
When you get home from work, exhausted and all you want to do is lay on the couch, having a goal of better health 10 years from now, it does not make exercise any more appealing. I'm guessing it turns into the “I'll get started tomorrow” discussion in your head.
But what if you got home exhausted from the stress of the day and realize that going on a walk will help you clear your mind and maybe even give you a little boost of energy to be there for your kids tonight or to make a healthy meal for yourself?
What if doing a 20 minute yoga routine would help you feel less stressed right now? What if getting outside and playing with your kids will put you in a better mood right now? Doesn’t that sound so much more appealing than the reduced cholesterol at some random date in the future?
By focusing on the immediate benefits, all of the sudden your chore turned into an essential. Something you want to do. Something you might even crave. As something that will make you feel better. As something that will provide you with self-care.
Maybe over time you find yourself walking every day after work because it feels so much better than sitting on the couch. Maybe a pumping gym session is what you need to release all your stress for the day.
So, probably for the first time, I’m going to tell you to keep those long term goals in the back of your mind while instead placing your primary focus on the immediate benefits of movement.
Ask yourself - how can movement make me feel better today? Some days it will be a hard workout and other days it may be a gentle stretching or breathing session. THIS is the sustainable cycle of success. Exercise and movement become a gift or an essential of life.
So, your first step is to come up with your why. Why are you motivated to exercise TODAY instead of 10 years down the road? What benefit will exercise provide TODAY? What gift can movement be in your life TODAY?
Spend a few minutes thinking about movement you can do that feels more like a gift than a chore. What motivates you? What makes you feel better? What gives you more energy? What makes you a more patient person? What do you crave?
If you don’t crave anything just yet, start exploring. I’m guessing you’ll find something you love in no time. In fact, if you can find a way to marry the idea of exercise as a chore and exercise as a gift, overtime those reasons will start to mold together into a sweet spot. The spot where you can still reach those long terms goals while finding joy in daily movement.
PRIORITIZE SELF CARE
Ok, now that we are looking at exercise as a self care opportunity or gift, Let’s cover how to bring exercise to the top of our to-do list, Or something that is essential to our everyday life.
I want you to look at or think about your to-do list today. What does it look like?
What kinds of things are on your list? I'm guessing if you were to go through your list you would probably see very few if any self-care activities on it. You probably have all your to dos or chores for the day filled in, but is there something for you on there?
If there isn't, then it's time to make a change.
You see, self-care is usually the first thing that gets left out. The first thing that never makes it to the top of our to-do list. Maybe it's the last thing we think about during the day.
But there's a problem with leaving self-care out. Self-care is the area that you get to work on and improve yourself, your relationships, and become better overall. But unfortunately, we often let those items end up at the bottom of our list and they usually stay there.
What happens when you de-prioritize your self care?
Do you get burned out really easily? Does your body get sick or are you constantly tired? What does it feel like for you?
You see, sooner or later you will have to take time for self-care. If you don't take care of it now, you will certainly have to take care of it in the future in the form of medication, consistent lack of energy, being overweight and so much more.
Remember your whys for exercise? Use those to put movement at the top of your list. Use exercise as a gift to be your self care option. When you look at it as self care you are more likely to enjoy it, to crave it, and to love it.
Now that the opportunity to exercise and move has become more of a gift, there’s one thing you need to do with it.
Stick with it.
In fact, exercise cannot be a regular gift if you are not regular in practicing it.
So, write down your long term goals. Then write down the steps it will take to get there. Create your habits based on seeing the opportunity to get there as a gift. Then, reward the effort, not the outcome.
Start where you are.
Pick small, daily habits to work on. It might be starting with a 10 minute yoga routine or a simple 10 minute walk each day. As you are consistent, you are likely to find more enjoyment in the activity and slowly increase it as you go along. Up your walk to 20 minutes, try a run walk, try doing a 30 minute yoga routine.
Whatever it is for you, remember that exercise and movement will only stick if it’s something you enjoy, something you look forward to, something that makes you feel better physically, mentally, emotionally immediately.
So, find your why, prioritize YOU, and then be consistent. These are the keys for long-lasting and sustainable exercise routines.