Q&A: I’ve heard that exercise should be fun, what am I doing wrong?
– – > You’re not working out with us! But seriously….
A: That person lied to you. Exercise, in and of itself, will rarely be fun. However, you can have enough fun while doing it, and, more importantly, you can stop doing things that make it awful/unrewarding.
What makes exercise unrewarding:
1. Shoulding on yourself such as “it should be fun,” or “it should get easier,” or “it should ‘work’ as fast as I expect it to.” The implicit definition of ‘work’ is “my body should change to the extent I expect and at a rate that I can see happen before my eyes.”
Exercise should be hard and should also get harder over time. Lastly, shoulding on yourself is a buzzkill.
2. Cutting corners and negotiating. You get out what you put in. It’s always going to feel hard, so cutting corners, skipping sets, holding back somewhat on effort, etc won’t make it feel easy, but all of these things will short change you now and over time.
We are the easiest person for us to fool. In other words, we buy all of our own bullshit. We are suckers for our plausible sounding reasons that excuse our not doing what we said we would.
Everyone wants a special deal with the universe whereby we can get a discount in life, but as I tell my children “put an apple in one hand and wish in the other, and see which one fills up first.”
Do the work, and, maybe a little bit more. Stop looking to negotiate with reality. It just is what it is and none of has the divine power to change reality.
3. No A/C. Adding misery to discomfort doesn’t make fitness more effective, but the opposite.
You should sweat, be uncomfortable, pant and curse during your workouts. However, if you only sweat because the place you workout is hot as hell, then that’s somebody being cheap with the electricity, not you getting a good workout… in fact, if it’s very hot, you’re body will not permit you to do much work.
4. Obsessing on results. Social media poisons our minds and causes mass delusions about what we “should” look like, feel like or have. After 15 minutes on any “social” media platform I’m usually depressed because I realize how shitty my fitness and life are compared with everyone else. Intellectually I know this is a mirage. However, this doesn’t change how I feel at all, and these poisonous expectations linger for days or weeks.
Focus on how hard you work, not on how you look compared to whomever on Instagram. Focus on how you feel better than when you started your workout and not on how much weight you’ve failed to lose today.
Focus on being proud of yourself for showing up (especially when you don’t feel like it) and not on how “unfair” it is that you “have to” workout.
5. Forgetting about math. “It’s just one workout,” or “I’ll just skip this one set” are common phrases to minimize reality.
For example, if you workout 3 days per week and skip every other week that’s 26 workouts per year. 3 days per week = 12 per month. The net effect of skipping once every other week = skipping over 2 months of workouts per year. I’m not shaming you for having other priorities, instead I’m pushing back on minimizing. The less we manipulate reality the easier it is to keep our priorities in order.
Last example is skipping sets. Often clients get 4 sets of 8-ish exercises, or 32 working sets. Sometimes people chronically insist that a 3rd or 4th set is impossible due to a condition called “I am tired.” (I’d guess that 85% of our clients are tired when they show up.).
Skipping the 4th set is 25% less exercise. Will you get precisely 25% less from your workouts? The precise percentage does not matter, but it does matter that you challenge your assumptions about how tough you are and how much inner strength you have. If you assume and affirm that you can’t possibly find the extra effort inside then you’re shorting yourself. Don’t. Inner strength, grit or resolve don’t exist when it’s easy. You can’t find or cultivate them until it’s hard.
Do the work. You’ll usually be tired, and do the work anyway. You might be energized by your workout, or you might leave just as tired as when you arrived, but you will have done the work and done the right thing. There’s nothing more important than doing the right thing. You can do it. It will always be hard. That’s ok. You can usually figure out how to have enough fun while you’re at it.
Your True 180 Team,
Josef, Natillie, Gregory