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How To Exercise When You Would Rather Do Anything Else

How To Exercise When You Would Rather Do Anything Else

A lot of the time exercising seems like the last thing most would want to be doing. Alas, we can’t sit about eating pizza all day and stay healthy because the world is unfair. Stephen Guise of Dumb Little Man shares some secrets on how to get motivated and do that work out you’ve been putting off:

All I wanted to do was exercise for 30 minutes, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I sat down, feeling defeated and overwhelmed. What was in my way? In the previous six weeks, I was inactive and my desire to be in great shape was not being fulfilled, but destroyed. Because of this, I realized that I wanted to cram all of the workouts I had missed into this one. The pressure of everything I hadn’t done weighed on me.

What I discovered next changed my life.

The Surprise Breakthrough Came From Considering The Opposite Of A Huge Workout

Months earlier, I had read a book called Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko, which is a book about creative thinking. In the book, Michalko lists several creative thinking “toys” to use to generate creative ideas. The one that changed my life was called “false faces.”

In “false faces,” you take your current ideas and flip them around to consider the opposite. For building a skyscraper, you might instead consider building something that went far down into the earth.

The opposite of doing an overwhelming workout gave me the idea of doing a single push-up. Immediately, I questioned my sanity. But as I continued to sit there, frozen, this idea would resurface, and eventually I gave in.

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To my surprise, it worked.

How One Push-Up Became A Full Workout

I got down into push-up position and did my one push-up, but since I was already there, I figured I’d do a few extra. I did about 15 push-ups in the first set, and my muscles were warmed up.

Then I set a new goal – do a single pull-up. I didn’t hesitate for this easy goal and did one, and then chose to do several more.

It felt like I had stumbled upon a gold mine. I couldn’t seem to fail with this strategy. Since I was out of shape, my body wanted to quit early, but I continued to lead it along slowly, like a dog with a trail of ham shavings.

“Ok, just two more push-ups. Now one more. Ok, two more.”

Abs were next, but I hate ab workouts more than anything, so I decided to just press play on a youtube ab workout video, and then to set up my mat, and then to get down on the mat, and then to do the first exercise. I finished the 10 minute program and my midsection was on fire.

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When it was over, that single push-up became a solid 30 minute workout.

Three Tips To Overcome Exercise Resistance 

1. Start stupid small (SSS)

This little trick really works.

Maybe you’ve heard elsewhere that it’s good to start small, but that isn’t specific enough. I have a clarifying rule I use that works EVERY time for me – make the first step “stupid small.” That just means that the first step should be so small that you sound ridiculous saying it. The effectiveness comes from an almost guaranteed start, which is, as they say, the hardest part. The momentum you build from starting stupid small is the perfect opportunity to ramp up into a bigger accomplishment.

From my late teens until late twenties (about ten years), I tried to exercise consistently. Consistency was off and on for those ten years, until I started The One Push-up Challenge.

I did one push-up per day minimum. On days I needed to work out, it was a great boost. On days I didn’t, it was no problem. Some nights in bed I would remember, “Oh no! I didn’t do my push-up today,” and flip over to do my push-up in bed just to meet the requirement.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but exercise was becoming a habit for me, just from this small requirement. And I’m happy to say that for the last three months, I have gone to the gym 3-6 times a week. It is easy and enjoyable because it’s a habit.

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I’m not the only one either. A couple told me that they used this strategy to just get through the warmup for the insanity workout program, and told me, “we are now onto our 4th week and getting stronger and stronger day by day.”

Here are some stupid small step examples you can try:
•    Do one push-up.
•    Put gym shorts on.
•    Drive to the gym (this is my objective for gym days).

2. Don’t simply desire to change – place an expectation there

A key part of my success has come from placing an expectation to exercise, as opposed to thinking that I’ll “do my best.”

This works because expectations are pre-determined decisions, not something you have to get pumped up for. Don’t make it a decision. People are more consistent going to work than going to the gym because there is an expectation for them to be at work, but the gym is seen as optional. Why not make a trip to the gym an expected part of your schedule?

This trick scales nicely with starting stupid small, because in the early days, you will merely expect to do one push-up, which is very easy to meet. Later on, your self-discipline will strengthen and you can up the ante by expecting to drive to the gym several days a week (like I do now).

3. Don’t cheat!

It can be tempting to think, “I’ll need to do a lot more than one to make it worthwhile.” This is an honorable thought, but it undermines the whole operation. If you say you have to do one push-up, but you feel like you have to do 20, then you might as well change your goal to 20 push-ups. By aiming for one push-up minimum, you’re tricking your brain to start exercising. After you begin, you’ll feel less resistance and will likely do more.

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While on some days I did a single push-up, most days were at least ten. And I have to say, even at small amounts like that, you can feel the difference from daily exercise.

This is especially important in the beginning; you need to be satisfied even if you only do the tiny step that you promised to do. Everything beyond that is pure bonus. I encourage you to set micro-goals after that point too. Completing seven small goals to get to 20 push-ups is the same as completing one goal to do 20 push-ups. But with the first one, you’ll get the satisfaction of completing seven goals. These micro-successes feel surprisingly great.

Of course, these goals are so small that they may be better defined as steps, but you can treat each step as a “micro-goal” with its own micro-reward.

BONUS: By doing this “the small way,” you’re training yourself to expect to accomplish your goals. The high success rate of these tiny goals builds confidence. If you’ve been intimidated by the size of your fitness goals, you can start today to build a foundation with small, stupid goals.

Remember, it is better to succeed with 100 tiny goals than to fail one giant goal. It’s great to have bigger aspirations and dreams, but these should be broken down into steps that you can and will take. If you feel resistance, it means you’re using up willpower, which is a limited, and therefore, an undependable resource. As you feel resistance, go smaller and smaller until it seems easy.

Make your steps like sand – individually tiny, but significant when combined – and you can climb any of your personal mountains.

Besides writing for his own blogs Stephen Guise is a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. Be sure to stop by Stephen’s ‘featured writer page‘ right here on Dumb Little Man to find links to more of his articles.

Lack Of Motivation? Here’s How To Exercise When You Don’t Feel Like It | Dumb Little Man

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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