Secrets Revealed: No One REALLY Wants to Workout

Do I love to run? Yes, yes I do. Is my favorite place in the world my mountain bike at the end of a muddy trail? Maybe but it also might be a picnic on my paddleboard too. Most days though do I have to fight the very strong urge to sleep in, keep playing silly iPad games, eat brownies and knit? Yes, yes I do. Here’s the thing for most of us out there we don’t really WANT to workout, at least not the way you’re thinking. We think that people who work out on the regular just love whatever it is that they do and really and truly want to do it all the time. Otherwise why would people run marathons and do triathlons? That doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t enjoy it or even love it on the whole but most of us day by day don’t really want to do it.

So we’re going to dig a little deeper into that for a minute. I’m going to explain that a little because I think you might find it motivating/comforting that long term dedicated exercisers would rather stay on the couch too. Well, talk about hacks, tricks and the ways we manipulate ourselves to get us going and why we keep doing it anyway. So if you feel like it’s all lies that you’ll eventually crave it trust me you’re not alone.

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What do you mean you don’t want to workout?

But you do triathlons, train for half marathons training up to 6 days a week for many months at a time? You must like it? You’re right I like it a lot but you’re asking the wrong question the question is do I want to do it? That answer is no, not usually. It’s almost always more desirable to do something else or do nothing at all. Let me explain a little bit I’m not a great sleeper and I’m always tired so I literally never want to wake up before sunrise to go for a run. When I get a weird break at work I’d rather catch up on errands then change into running gear in an unheated bathroom with screws sticking out. I want to eat supper right after work and once that’s over I feel like all I want to do is chill. After dark, I want to wear Pj’s and veg out. But the thing is I do it anyway.

Now onto the excuses that make me not want to workout. I can convince myself that I’m ‘already busy’ in most scenarios. If I’m just scrolling facebook over and over waiting for someone to add more so I can read it = too busy to go for a run. I’m already behind on sleep and have a long day tomorrow = too busy. The house is a mess and I have to buy socks again or do laundry = not doing the laundry, but still too busy. Even if I’m doing nothing but there is something I should be doing that counts as too busy to workout too. Here’s another thing from what I know of people who workout regularly like me or even a lot more than me they don’t really want to do it right now either. At any given moment it can be too wet, cold, hot, sunny, humid, snowy or dark almost all at the same time to really want to get started.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love it either and sometimes my mood tells me I need it. I think for most of us it’s a little like brushing your teeth. It’s not really a fun idea, you just sorta of have to do it but it does feel a lot better once you’re done. Most of the dedicated exercisers I hang out with feel sort of the same way.

When does the love part start?

I do love working out and that starts about the minute I decide it’s going to happen. I only wear my athletic wear to workout and since it’s so cute and comfortable I love that. It feels good just to decide to do something good for yourself that is hard. Stepping outside the door feels great and so does getting started. It takes me a few km to start to love it but looking at the views and breathing fresh air feels great. I truly like to go for distance and so after the first few km which I don’t like, I start to feel energized, powerful and strong. I feel great for hours and really days afterward and this does make me want to do it again at least logically, in the long term. Getting off the couch the next time though… that’s a hard one!

Overall I like working out when I’m already doing it and for the effects, it has on my life and body. I’m generally taking on one big challenge a year and it always seems that the next one is bigger than the last. I love pushing and training to do something I didn’t think I was capable of year after year. That said I do firmly believe you need to take some time away from dedicated training every year. That doesn’t mean you have to stop entirely but I really like the way my body looks and feels when I’m training and shortly thereafter. In January and February, aka right now, I don’t feel as well, as light or as strong. I also just like the way I look a bit more vain but still true. This in the long term makes me logically at least want to work on my fitness again year after year, after all no work means no reward.

So how do you get past really not wanting to do it

There are a few options that you can use at different times or all at once, things like:

  • Signing up for a race and getting a training program for it
  • Posting on social media using your favorite hashtag like  #sundayfundayrunday, #halfmarathontraining or #nevermissamonday then people will notice if you do miss a Monday.
  • Schedule your workouts for the month on the first, then you’re breaking a promise to yourself.
  • Look at your super fit pictures from last summer’s races on Instagram wistfully. Or is that just me?
  • Add some fitness things to your bucket list.
  • Say yes to a friend who asks you to workout with them.
  • Pay good money for a repeating class.
  • Ask a running friend to get you into it by whatever means necessary!
  • Allow yourself to define a part of you as a fit person, runner, cyclist or whatever and do what it takes to make that real.
  • Bribe yourself with the promise of $50 for every 10 workouts to spend without a care in the world.

One of the best ways to make the right list at the right time. I honestly think that time is probably at a really low point. Think about why you need or want to workout and list those things. Maybe it’s health issues, maybe it’s body confidence, strength or just feeling better in your own skin. Now, you might think I’m going to tell you to post it somewhere you’ll see it all of the time. I’m not though, instead put is somewhere at hand but out of sight like a desk drawer. That way you can be more real with yourself when you are making it and then take it out and read it when you need it rather than getting desensitized to it all the time. 

In the longer term, you will love working out for the mental, health or body benefits it brings. Once you discover something you really love you will have fun doing it but in the moment you might never really WANT to do it. So if you’re struggling to get going, know that you’re not alone. If you’re a regular exerciser am I off base here? Do you really want to work out the vast majority of the time? How do you get started when you don’t want to?

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