Don't get me wrong, I love training anywhere outdoors, going for a run, ride, lifting weight in my home gym and playing touch rugby and basketball. But occasionally, I don't always want to do it.
We’ve all been there; even those among us who identify us as 'fitness fanatics'. We have had periods when exercising was the absolute last thing we wanted to do. Sometimes that feeling is a message: It could be time to rest, recover, or reduce the intensity with which we exercise.
But most of the time, it's just our Mindset. And if you have read our e-book "The Mindset Switch" - It's 80% psychological and 20% strategy. “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.”
And for most of us, that's what we perceive exercise as... Work! And let's be honest. Who wants to go to work? In this case, your “work” is your fitness—it’s the very real and essential act of self-care that is movement. Yes, you heard that right: exercise is fundamentally a form of self-care, and the very act of moving is to honour your body’s need to do so. If we care for our bodies, we find that everything else in our life becomes so much easier.
Sometimes the resistance that stands between us and our fitness is mindset. I hear a lot of excuses, and most of them are just that. However, I think at times some of them are extremely valid. But sometimes it’s not a matter of excuses at all—just a matter of fighting resistance, making things more realistic, and removing obstacles that stand in the way of us and our workouts.
Thankfully resistance can be overcome; what follows are four simple strategies to assist you in doing so.
The oldest tool in the anti-resistance toolbox is also one of the most effective: Ask other people to hold you accountable. This can be done by signing up making yourself accountable to a trainer, a coach, signing up to a class or even a friend that expects you to commit.
With the wonders of modern technology, we can even look to devices and online communities for accountability. Exercise trackers such as FitBits, our Committed 2 Fitness app and online communities such as Facebook groups are effective and alternative methods of increasing accountability.
The base rationale is this: If you say you’re going to do something and other people are counting on you to do it, you’re more likely to actually do it. Last week it was literally pouring with rain and it was freezing. But I did not want to let my teammates down. It’s not necessarily a long term strategy, and it can work the other way. For example the week before, they called off the game. But it works and is fantastic way to get started.
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
If resistance is the issue, it makes sense to take the path that involves as little of it as possible. What I mean is this: When resistance is bubbling up from within you, do your best to limit external resistance.
- If evening exercise is the aim, keep your active gear in the car so that you go straight to the gym or park, rather than heading home and loosing the motivation you had.
- If early morning exercise is the aim, sleep in your gym clothes or lay them out the night before. (Personally, I can't do this, but I know this works for others!)
- Pop it in your calendar and set an alarm to go off, so you can stop everything you are doing and just get started.
- Consider buying some fitness equipment for home; bands, exercise bike, fit ball and dumbbells are popular and offer variety.
If you can create a situation that involves fewer external obstacles, you’ll increase your likelihood of overcoming resistance.
MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE
Part of what keeps so many of us from committing to a consistent fitness routine is the misunderstanding of what that has to entail. If, like me, you were bred to believe that workouts need to be long and comprehensive in order to be effective, allow me to disprove that myth.
While it’s nice to be able to commit to an hour long (or more) training session when time allows, this isn’t always possible. Further, we fall into the trap of thinking that if we can’t do the planned training session, we might as well not do it all.
Minimum effective dose is the smallest or shortest amount of something you can do while still eliciting a positive response. So rather than commit to hour long workouts, consider 30 minutes (commit to 25 :)) or even less. If all you’ve got is 10 minutes, use those 10 minutes to move—because yes, it counts.
And here’s why: when it comes to fitness (and just about any other positive habit), consistency is more important than perfection. If perfection is the goal, we will never reach it. By setting ourselves to exercise only if we have plenty of time, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. What happens when we’re slammed with work? Up all night with an infant or a sick kiddo? Traveling and pressed for time?
If we set out to move consistently, regardless of the length of the workouts, we’ll be more likely to create a sustainable, long term habit.
Along this same vein, consider that not every workout needs to be hard. A brisk walk, core or mobility exercises can be highly effective when consistency is the intention, because the more consistently you move, the more movement becomes your norm.
*I’ve got tons of workout quickies on my YouTube channel with many different variation of workouts.*
REFRAME YOUR REASONS
As an obsessive exerciser, I understand the struggle to conform to societal pressures and strive for an “ideal” body. Even after my extensive injuries and limitations, I found myself over-identifying with my athleticism and putting a great deal of pressure on myself to “perform.”
Unless we’re actually competing (and even then, to some extent), this pressure is unnecessary. When we stress and obsess over the reasons behind our pursuit of fitness, it can often be difficult to step into a space of ease and adaptability. We wind up making things feel very serious, and in the process can bump up against a mountain of resistance.
But if we can learn to move for the sake of movement, to view fitness as a means of self-care and a method of honoring our bodies, we can begin to overcome this resistance.
Take the “shoulds” and the “musts” and the seriousness out of fitness, and ask yourself instead: What do I actually enjoy? What makes me feel alive? How can I move in a way that honors my energy levels, my preferences, and my limitations?
Resistance is a very real struggle. It manifests within us, paralyzing and debilitating us, and is further exacerbated by many of life’s external obligations and commitments. But, with the right tools and a willingness to adapt, resistance can be overcome.
Fitness, as it turns out, doesn’t have to be so serious. It can be something that adds a tremendous amount of value and meaning to our lives, if we can learn to overcome the resistance that stands between us and our body’s inherent desire to move.