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“But I hate exercising!” How to battle your exercise demons

If you’ve read past the title, congratulations. You’ve realised that exercise is an essential and important part of our lives. Before you read on, rest assured this article is not written by a size-6 gym bunny, but a ‘Real Girl’ who hates exercise as much as you do. All I can give you is some practical advice to help conquer those exercise demons and get you on the road to a healthier life. Let’s look at some common excuses and some ways to battle them:

I’m too embarrassed to exercise
Honey, we all know that feeling. You’re feeling fat and ugly and the cellulite shows through your marl grey track pants right? Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re just going to get fatter, uglier, and overcome by cellulite unless you get off your sorry butt and get moving. Here are some practical ways to battle the “I’m too embarrassed” excuse.

  1. Buy some proper exercise clothes. If you’re putting on some too-tight track pants and your husbands faded baggy t-shirt, of course you’re not going to be feeling too flash. Invest in a couple of inexpensive but comfortable exercise outfits to get you feeling better before you even get your heart-rate up. Try Kmart, Farmers or Ezibuy for some cheaper gym gear than the sports shops. Some appropriate sneakers and a good sports bra are also essential to have you feeling better while you exercise.
  2. Join a women’s gym. Yes, there are plenty of skinny gym buffs there, but there are also a lot of bigger women just trying to get fitter/lose weight/drop that cholesterol. The advantage of a women’s gym is that you don’t have to worry about looking glam in front of the boys. Also, if you can convince an embarrassed friend to join you, you’ll feel much more confident when doing that step class.
  3. If you really are too chicken to get out there and shake that booty like the other girls, buy yourself an exercise video. If you are really unfit and inflexible, yoga might be a good option. If you are up for a more cardiac challenge, go for an aerobics one.

I’m just not motivated enough
Motivation is the number 1 reason why we don’t exercise enough as we should do. If we had the motivation, then any other excuse is just birdfeed. So how do we get motivated and stay that way?

  1. Join a programme. The Body for Life programme offered by Les Mills gym is one great way to motivate yourself, lose weight and gain muscle tone. While diet is an important part of this programme, I think one of the main reasons it’s successful is because you track your progress. For example, before starting on your fitness venture, you have a photo taken in your teensiest underwear. That first photo will horrify you. But by the end of the programme you’ll have some statistics to compare your results with
  2. Measurements are all important and a great way to stay motivated. For the last ten years, once a month I have measured my bust, waist, hips, thigh and lower thigh and recorded the measurements. Weight can go up and down, but measurements show whether you are remaining stable in size. When you exercise, you build muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so while you might not be making much progress on the scales, your monthly measurements will tell an entirely different story.
  3. Invest in a pedometer. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, we should take 10,000 steps a day. If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously not too big on exercise, so you’ll be horrified at how few steps you probably take. If you have a pedometer on your waistband, you can see how much more activity you need to do to be in the ‘healthy lifestyle’ segment rather than the ‘couch potato’ one. It’s like your very own personal trainer!
  4. Speaking of personal trainers, they’re an expense, but they really do the job. There’s nothing like fearing you’re letting someone down to motivate you to tie up those shoelaces and hit the pavement. How else do you think all those super-hot celebrities motivate themselves to do two-hour long workouts every day? Even Angelina has to have someone to inspire her.

I just don’t have enough time
This lame excuse is all too common. We’re all busy women. We work, we study, we raise children, we grocery shop, vacuum and take the dog to the vet. We are all busy, so how is it that some women can fit in an hour of exercise a day?

  1. With exercise, you have to “Use time to make time”. While for the first couple of weeks getting up an hour earlier than normal will be hard on you, after that two-week barrier is broken, you’ll be full of energy and therefore able to fit more things into your day.
  2. Instead of straightening your hair every morning, use those 20 minutes to walk to work. Instead of sitting down for a 20 minute breakfast while you read the newspaper, take your cereal to work. Instead of sitting on the couch while you watch Shortland Street, put your stepper in front of the telly. Little things can mean big progress on the exercise front.
  3. If you can afford to, hire a cleaner for a couple of hours a week. If you don’t have to worry about scrubbing the shower or making the beds, that’s time you can focus on improving your fitness.

I just find exercise so boring!
Hey, not everyone loves exercise. Not everyone loves eating vegetables, but we should still eat them because they’re healthy. The important point here is to figure out what types of exercise you do enjoy. Not a gym bunny who enjoys high intensity workouts? Join a pilates class for relaxation. You don’t like to exercise alone? Try indoor netball, or touch, or some other sport that involves a lot of socialising. You constantly look at your watch to see how much longer you have to go? Listen to music or watch TV while you exercise to keep you busy. While you may never be a big exercise fan, if you can get yourself through 30 minutes of physical activity a day, you’ll be meeting the requirements of the Push Play campaign run by SPARC (http://www.sparc.org.nz/)

Exercise is expensive
Not all exercise has to be expensive. Yes, gym memberships can be hideously priced. Yes, you do need to buy some comfortable workout shoes. But compare the cost of exercising, with the cost not exercising has on your health.

  1. When I was a student, I couldn’t afford to join the gym. So I went to Rebel Sport when they were having one of their year long interest-free deals, and Hire Purchased a cross-trainer. Through monthly payments, I paid off the cross-trainer within the year without paying any interest, and also had something tangible to show for my money. Another option is to look in newspaper classifieds or auction sites online to see if you can get some exercise equipment for affordable rates.
  2. There’s nothing cheaper than a walk or run in nature. Likewise going for a swim in the lake, or practising netball passes with your daughter. Not all exercise involves pounding it out in a gym.
  3. Check out the rates of various gyms, some will be much cheaper than others. Also look at ‘season cards’ at your local swimming pool. These are much cheaper than paying by the visit.

But I’m injured
So you’ve got an old shoulder injury that plays up whenever you lift a tennis racket? Or you twisted your ankle when playing that damned indoor netball last week and now you’re out of action for two weeks? Check with your doctor for advice on how you can exercise with your injury. They should be able to recommend some stretches and light exercise at least. For example, if you have a twisted ankle, there’s no reason why you can’t lift hand weights!

I hope these hints have helped you tackle some of those exercise demons. At least you’ve got to the end of the article. Now get off the computer and go do some exercise!

By pink 26-May-2006
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