Help! I Absolutely DESPISE Exercise!

How To Get Moving When the Motivation Just Isn't There

MSNBC—March 20, 2007

Q: When I was thin I did not exercise. I've never enjoyed it. Now that I'm overweight, I work out but I struggle being consistent with my routine. I've gotten past the embarrassment of being so large, but my question is: How can I make myself remain consistent with exercise when I truly, truly HATE working out? I do it because I have/need to. I want to be healthy. But I don't like being hot and sweaty, I don't like the gym, I don't like the clothing, I don't like the smell. I'll do OK for two to three months, then something will interfere and I really struggle getting back on track. HELP!

A: Sure, there are fitness fanatics who can't get enough exercise, and it doesn't sound like you're ever going to be one o f them. Join the club. Many regular exercisers don't absolutely LOVE it, not the way they relish chocolate lava cake or drinking beer with their buddies or plopping down in front of the TV after a long day at work—all the good things in life that, in excess, make us overweight and out of shape in the first place.

But you need to ask yourself if you truly hate all physical activity, or just the activities of your current routine.

Seems as though what you really hate is your gym, and either the equipment or the classes you take there. (Plus, if the gym smells, that can't help matters!)

So it's time for a change of plans, says Jenny Susser, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "There are lots of ways to think outside the box that can make exercise have a different kind of meaning," she says.

If you really don't like the treadmill or that cardio groove class, the inner and outer thigh machines—or whatever you're currently doing—drop them. Really! You can even cancel the membership at that stinking gym.

Then try something new. How about salsa dancing, inline skating, tennis, mountain biking, volleyball, rowing, home workout videos or swimming? Swimming won't make you all "hot and sweaty."
Keep in mind that all physical activity counts. So try to be more active in your daily life: walk more, take more stairs, clean the house, mow the lawn, that kind of thing. You don't even need the workout clothes you dislike so much for these activities.

And on those days when you just can't get motivated to move, think of all the reasons why you should: it's good for your health, it can help you lose weight, it can boost your mood, it will help ease the guilt from that chocolate lava cake you ate last night, etc.

"Look for multiple motivators so you've got a little repertoire of inspiration," says Dr. Susser. "Have a slew of reasons why you should work out so that if one fails, you've got two to three backups."

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