Changing Your Exercise Story
With a Question
I get bored with exercise and need help, how do I overcome the mindset that exercise is only for burning calories?
This question shows awareness. I am sure you, just like the woman who asked me this question recently are aware of how our mindsets affect our ability to exercise.
First, I will acknowledge that she is partially right, exercise is for burning calories and that’s a glorious thing. When paired with a healthy, well-portioned eating exercise will help create a calorie balance or deficit. Balance is the goal when you wish to maintain your weight, deficit is when you wish to lose weight. Luckily, exercise is so so so much more than just burning calories.
Second, If I were in a coaching session I would ask several questions to find out if this question leads to a deeper mindset about what exercise is and means. I’ll pose them here so you can explore your thought processes as well.
- Who was your health & wellness role model in your childhood and what was their relationship with exercise?
- Did they dread it? Love it? Only do it because it burned calories?
- Why do you think you tell yourself this story?
- When you have exercised in the past what positive effects have you noticed after exercising?
- Do you think you can take the positive benefits you’ve experienced in exercise and shape a new story around those experiences?
A Mindset Shift
For the sake of this post let’s say the question does lead to a deep-seated frustration and dislike of exercise because ‘it’s just for burning calories.’
Let me build the case for a new mindset on exercise, as the above question indicates “exercise is just for burning calories,” isn’t working to create much motivation or creative around the fitness.
We know that there are almost unlimited benefits to exercise: a stronger heart and lungs, decreased blood pressure and blood sugar, lower fat levels which lowers your risk of a host of lifestyle diseases, stress relief, an endorphin dump, yada, yada….
But the benefits aren’t often what motivate us to move forward and jump on the exercise bandwagon once and for all.
Yes, if you can change your story from “I hate walking” to “Walking is going to help me decrease my chances of getting the diseases that run in my family.” Hell yea, go for it. Do it! Change your life!
If you aren’t there yet, don’t throw your hands up and quit.
It means acknowledging the story you have told yourself for years. Acknowledgement. Awareness. Those are two HUGE steps in the right direction.
It indicates the stage of change you are in.
Are you aware that what you think and do hurts your ability to make lasting healthy change? Are you dedicated to making that change come hell or high water?
Note, neither saying “yes” or “no” to the above questions, is good or bad. We progress on the scale of change throughout life. It’s cyclical and depending on what we are trying to change some things may come easier than others.
If you aren’t there yet, continue with small steps.
Start by asking yourself if the story you are telling yourself is based in fact or past experience?
There is definitely a difference.
Exercise sucks. Is that a fact? Or is that a story based on past experience?
Identify what about your story un-motivates you. Continue to build that awareness.
When you start to feel like you are aware and have identified your frustrations with not making exercise stick. It’s time to explore a new story.
- What have you enjoyed in the past regarding exercise?
- Do you feel under-confident in the exercise arena?
- What would help you feel confident?
- What are you fears about exercise? Dissect them? Figure out what it would mean or look if the worst thing happened regarding your fear. What would you do then?
You are are ready to motivate yourself and change your stories.
- What do you want exercise to feel like?
- What do you want it to do for you?
- How are you going to plan for the challenging times when you revert back to thinking “exercise is just to burn calories” or whatever the story is that you tell yourself.
- Most importantly, are you committed to making exercise a permanent part of your life?
As you can see I am full of questions. If you need more support and prompts I am happy to be your new-story editor. You dream it, write it, do it, and I’ll support, keep you on track and on point.
Email me at Caroline@CarolineMcKean.com and let me know what you biggest frustrations are about exercise and I’ll answer them here!