So I’m gonna be perfectly honest–I HATE to exercise. One of my happiest memories was on the last day of high school, realizing I was never going to have to enter another gym again and be forced to do laps, or shuttle runs, or play stupid sports that I’m too awkward and uncoordinated for and have absolutely no interest in. Never would I ever have to put my body through the unnecessary exertion and pain again.
Fast forward several years and several anxiety attacks later, several aches and cricked necks later. Fast forward several doctor visits later where he doesn’t get tired of preaching, “You need to exercise.” Pfff! What does this guy who went to school for eight years and has been practicing medicine for thirty know what I need for my body?
In my defense, I’ve always been interested in yoga. I’ve tried joining classes before and practicing on my own with Youtube videos (preferably the Yoga with Adriene Youtube videos). Still, I never stuck to it because, as I said before, I really, truly hate exercising with every fiber of my being.
I didn’t think of giving regular exercise another try until recently. Until I woke up one day with a neckache that didn’t go away for six months and even caused some vertigo. Again, I went to the doctor and again he recommended exercise. I figured maybe it was time for me to listen to him.
How I made myself get up and exercise
What was I going to do about my utter hatred of exercise? The thought of getting up and exerting my body through painful movements and shapes I was barely able to fathom kept me postponing it. How was I going to get out of this vicious cycle of wanting to get up and move my body but at the same time dreading everything exercise entailed?
Simple. I lied to myself.
How does one lie to themselves? It’s really not so hard. People do it all the time! “He’s not cheating on me. That really must be his cousin.” “I’m only going to eat half of this slice of cake.” “I’ll just postpone this deadline. I work really well under pressure.” “She’s not a bitch. She’s just working under a lot of pressure.”
I lie to myself every day in this way. While I’m lying face down on my bed, quietly watching life pass me by, I go ahead and tell myself, “Just do ten minutes. It’s better than doing nothing at all. Then you can tell people you worked out and they’ll believe you.” (No, they won’t, but that’s part of the lie.)
Under the false premise of a ten-minute workout, I find that once I’m already up I can just keep going. So my initial intention of exercising for about ten minutes is now extended to maybe twenty, thirty or even sixty minutes. I find the Yoga with Adriene videos helpful because they range from ten minutes all the way up to an hour. I can play a video of about fifteen minutes and when it’s over, if I want to keep going I can just find another video and add it to that day’s routine.
You can apply it to other areas of your life!
The fun thing about this nifty little trick is that you can use it for anything! Any tasks that you’re dreading, any projects you keep postponing–all you have to do is lie to yourself and get it done! Writing, cleaning, talking to that family member you don’t really like–just tell yourself you’ll do it for ten minutes and, if you feel like it, you can keep going. Because even if you don’t, even if all you really do is ten minutes, that’s still better than not having done anything at all. The feeling of accomplishment in itself will help give your self-esteem a boost. That alone will encourage you to do more things that are good for you even though you might dread them.
In the end, exercising daily has not only benefited my physical health overall but also my mental health. I came to the yoga mat for chronic neck pain, but the ease I’ve felt where my anxiety is concerned is what keeps me coming back daily. After all, exercise has been proven to greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
So go ahead and give it a try! The next time you find yourself coming up with excuses or spending more time trying to convince yourself to get up and workout, tell yourself you’ll do it for just ten minutes. You’ll be surprised to find that ten minutes is not really that long and slowly but surely you can extend your workout (or other tasks) for longer periods of time.
Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you get up off the couch and get active? Feel free to share in the comments!