Michelle Segar, Ph.D. wrote a book called No Sweat that revealed a lot of the reasons why people don’t regularly exercise. While this isn’t a problem for me, it is for many people. People like my family, friends and fellow gym members. I read Dr. Segar’s book because I wanted to get a better understanding of what it’s like to not feel motivated to exercise.
Reader Beware! There isn’t a single exercise or workout or nutrition program prescribed anywhere in this book. How fabulous is that?!
The fitness industry is filled with one-size fits all ‘get slim’ or ‘get ripped’ quick plans, and this isn’t one of them. Her approach to re-introducing people to exercise is methodical, informative and individualized.
Below are a few insights I gained from reading her book that I want to share with you.
Exercise: How the past affects the future
Turns out that your past experiences with exercise can play a big role in dictating how you currently feel about exercise. Dr. Segar discusses in her book the importance of identifying how you feel about exercising and what it means to you.
For instance, when I think about exercise I see myself as a kid playing in Little League and youth soccer and basketball. Those are happy memories and associations for me.
However, if you gained weight during your pregnancy and decided running would be the best way to lose the weight, even though you hated running – you’d view running as a kind of punishment.
The next time you think about losing weight or joining a gym, you may bring that past negative baggage into your workouts. If you choose to run on the treadmill or take a kickboxing class because you heard it’s supposed to burn the most calories, but you don’t enjoy the activity you are reinforcing your negative feelings about exercise. The connection between punishment and exercise grows stronger.
What comes to mind when you think about exercise? Are they positive or negative thoughts?
Find activities you enjoy doing
By finding activities you enjoy dong you can fundamentally switch from thinking of exercise as a punishment into a privilege.
Many people, however, have never felt good from working out vigorously – not even once.Michelle Segar, Ph. D., No Sweat, p.58
Again, stop thinking you need to follow the latest fitness fads, run an obstacle course or participate in a high-intensity workout. When it comes to high-intensity exercise Dr. Segar writes, “Many people, however, have never felt good from working out vigorously – not even once.”
The world is filled with ways you can move:
- Join a beach volleyball team
- Attend a Zumba class
- Learn to play tennis
- Play miniature golf
- Swim laps at your local community pool
- Take a walk outside
What physical activities do you like to do? Do more of that.
You don’t need a gym membership to be active. If you like the gym, great! But it’s not a prerequisite to finding ways to reconnect with your body and give it a chance to move.
It’s not about willpower
Don’t depend on willpower alone to change your relationship with exercise.
Dr. Segar does an excellent job of explaining how willpower is a limited resource and not a long term solution to changing how you feel about exercising.
Depending on a resource that is known to deplete with use? Not a good idea for the long run.Michelle Segar, Ph. D., No Sweat, p.30
Stop beating yourself up if you think the only reason you can’t stick to an exercise program is due to your lack of willpower. That ain’t it.
Self-care. All day. Every day. Ok, most days.
Finding time to exercise has rarely been an issue for me. That’s not to say I don’t get crazy busy and miss a workout or three. But long stretches away from the gym are unusual for me. Let me revise that statement. Extended periods of time away from moving my body are unusual for me.
I love to walk. So on the days I don’t make it to the gym, but get in 3 miles just from running around doing errands my body thanks me. I find I sleep better on the days I move more. I’m less stressed. In general, I feel better.
I view my workouts as ‘me time’. Sometimes it’s the simple joy of taking a meditative jog. Or listening to a podcast on a walk. My favorite thing as a teenage was to watch television while on the StairMaster. A movie, a workout and a hot shower after? That’s heaven to me. More of that, please!
However, we’ve all had those moments when we feel like we give more than we receive. Work, family, you name it. What we need to stop doing is placing everyone else’s needs constantly before our own and telling ourselves, “Well, that’s just what it means to be a good [mom/employee/daughter/spouse/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-obligations-here].”
Dr. Segar makes a strong point about the importance of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself. Allow yourself to go to spin class or to try kickboxing or to spend twenty minutes walking away from your desk during a workday. You deserve to have your ‘me time’. And everyone around you benefits from your self-care.
When I give myself the time to exercise it’s like hitting the refresh button. I am more fully present when I’m with my husband and friends, more focused at work, and I find that I have immense gratitude for my body that gave me the ability to accomplish my tasks for the day.
Final words: Read the book
There is way more helpful information in this book than I’ve touched on above.
Not besties with exercise? Pick up this book. Give it a read. Your future self will thank you for it.
Got questions about the book? Hit me up on my contact form.