I’m sure you’ve heard at least some of the phrases:
“No pain, no gain!”
“It hurts me to continue, but it hurts much worse to stop!”
“Let them sleep while you grind, let them party while you work, the difference will show”
… and so on. These usually come up with a motivational picture of someone fit, pushing it to the max.
I am pretty sure people from the pictures don’t really believe to any of it.
When I was 12 or 13 years old I was starting to develop as a women and I gained some extra weight. I’m short and that made it even more obvious. My mother took me for a regular exam and when I told the doctor that I’d like to lose some weight she advised me to start running up and down the stairs of our building (8 floors). She also gave me a diet, excluding basically everything except vegetables, some fruits and the occasional tuna fish.
I was very determined to succeed so every morning I was putting on my sneakers and I ran up and down the stairs countless times. My heart was beating faster and faster every time I went up and my knees and muscles hurt badly every time I went down. The worst of all was the entire activity was incredibly boring and it didn’t give much sense of satisfaction. I wasn’t doing it, because I wanted to run up and down through 8 floors for half an hour, I was doing it, because I wanted to lose some weight. I didn’t enjoy any part of what I’m doing, I felt as if it’s another unpleasant daily chore such as washing the dishes or traveling to school.
The first 6 days I ran for half an hour. The next week I couldn’t push myself for more than 20-25 minutes. 20 minutes of sports activity a day is better than sitting on the couch, but it’d take a lot of time for a visible result. A few weeks later I had almost completely given up on this challenge and I felt like a worthless fat girl with no will to achieve anything. What made it worse were all these people who somehow managed to get out every day and actually do something – the “No pain, no gain” people. Why was I the exception and why couldn’t I be more like them and less like a jelly fish?
Another failure came up with my diet – I knew that I could technically survive on salads, some cabbage, broccoli and apples for dessert, but in reality I was starving and my stomach was floated as if I’d swollen the sofa I couldn’t get my butt off. In the beginning I was so motivated boiling the broccoli and blending vegetable smoothies! And yet now I was grossed out by the mere smell of green stuff. Soon I was eating pretty much the way I ate before.
Then suddenly one day while doing a desperate 5th attempt to run up the stairs, I noticed the beautiful picture out the building window. It was early autumn and colorful leaves were paving the streets. People were walking with their jackets in hand, because winter had just passed and no one was prepared for the warmth. I ran down to floor 1 and before I could make myself push it for another round back up, I simply continued running outside our building. The experience was completely different. The picture was changing all the time, other runners were passing around me. It wasn’t boring anymore. And it was much, much easier. Before I knew it I had ran for an hour without thinking about the end of the workout the entire time. Running up and down the stairs I was focused on the joy that the end would bring, while pushing it through the effort. Running outside, making the experience much more pleasuring I was enjoying the workout itself. I’m still running every day.
This is why people who see exercising as something unpleasant, as work, as pain, as a chore that is necessary for a nice body don’t achieve much. You can’t be consistent with something that you don’t actually like to do. If you want to look good and fit, and healthy, start with finding that activity that makes you feel good and love it even more.