There is no question that our health is an extremely important subject and should be a priority in our lives. One area where people create a barrier for themselves is the extreme NEGATIVE emotion placed on exercise. For many, exercise has been a miserable experience and often times began as a youth. Some individuals can do things physically with ease while others doing the same activity will experience excruciating pain. There are many biological, mental, and physiological reasons for the way we experience pain. If we are struggling with weight issues as a youth, it is obviously harder to do physical activities and participate in sports because of the extra weight, added stress on the joints, muscles, back, and even lungs. If a person who is not struggling with weight issues were to carry 50 pound weights all day and participate in sports or other physical activities he or she would more than likely be miserable too (we can discuss later if a child has a full choice in what they eat or even if they can exercise). It would be painful, harder to breathe, uncomfortable in a chair, not much fun doing physical activities with others. They would probably want to give up, as many of us have. Your response to the pain you experienced with physical activities is completely normal. It hurts but as you grow in this endeavor to be healthier and of a lean weight the pain you experience the rest of the time will be reduced. Recognizing that going through a small amount of pain for a few minutes a day with exercise will minimize constant pain and potential large scale handicaps later. Stay focused on the bigger picture.
Another factor playing into the misery of exercise is a terrible experience with it in the past. As children, we are forced to attend physical education classes by our school or play sports because of a desire by ourselves, parents, or others to play the sport. One tough aspect for some youth participating in these programs is the individual who is teaching the class or coaching the sport does not understand individual levels of fitness or fitness education and in many cases begins with an exercise program or class that is beyond some individuals’ capabilities. The obese child cannot run as fast as many of the other children, the sport or activity requires more of an effort than a child who has been fit his or her whole life, and the pain associated with the activity is more intense and greater than a child who has played sports or exercised regularly before. As a result, the individual playing the sport or taking the class is miserable and begins to hate and fear exercise at a young age.
The time we spent with other youth could be a conditioning factor in our association with exercise. We all have been given different gifts and for some it is the ability to be athletic. Many others do not have this gift but possess countless other abilities. Unfortunately for the ones without the athletic gifts, ridicule and humiliation by class or teammates seems to accompany the inability to participate in fitness activities at a high level. The individual receiving the humiliation usually associates another negative experience with exercise and fitness, leaving them to hate it. This feeling for many sadly is carried into adulthood.
In the space below, please list any negative experiences or memories related to exercise during your youth. Please communicate clearly.
- Other children laughed and made fun of me because I was the slowest runner.
- The physical education teacher made me try pull-ups in front of everyone even though I was an overweight child and he knew I could not do it. It was humiliating.
- When I was eight years old, I made an error at Little League practice and the coach made me run until I urinated in my pants. It was so embarrassing I never wanted to play sports or run again.
Now it is your turn:
If you have unfortunately listed or experienced any negative experiences in your youth related to exercise, please list in the below spaces how those experiences may have impacted you as an adult. Please communicate clearly and with complete sentences.
- I hate running because it is boring and it hurts. As a child I did not find any sport or activity that I was interested in and the ones my parents and teachers made me participate in were so painful and miserable that I hated every minute of it and I still do today.
- I hate lifting weights because I get extremely sore. My physical education teacher made me lift weights and it hurt. I am afraid to feel that terrible pain today and even to try to join a gym.
- I hate riding a bike because I fell on my bike once and got hurt. I will never forget that experience and have not tried to ride a bike since.
Now it is your turn:
In the space below, list five ways you can overcome your personal barriers and negative outlook toward exercise. Utilize the portions of the book that you have completed so far to assist you (Self-talk, Impacts on Yourself and Others Etc.)
- Even though exercise has been painful for me in the past, I will stay aware that going through 30 minutes of “pain” today with exercise will help me minimize or even eliminate the chronic all day pain of disease and premature aging in the future. I will recognize when I am defeating myself through self-talk and change the conversation that I have with myself to how I can be successful with exercise. I will stay focused on the bigger picture.
- Whenever I begin to focus on the negative experiences of the past that I have had with exercise, I will shift my energy and focus to how I can be successful with my health mission. I will read stories of other people who have overcome large obstacles to achieve big goals. I will talk to my accountability partner about how I try to talk myself out of exercise. I will focus on the strength and high functioning quality of life I will gain because of exercise.
- I will find exercises that I enjoy and play my favorite playlist while doing them. I will keep the music motivational and inspiring while also understanding I am 100% responsible for everything in my life. I will prepare for success!
- I will not make exercise too much of an emotional experience. I will know that it is in my best interest to exercise and I will perform all exercises in a safe and effective manner without overdoing them. I will exercise smart, accept that there is a tolerable amount of discomfort with exercise, and stay resilient with the health mission that I have.
- Given the way I have treated myself over the years, I will stay thankful that I can exercise at all. I will do what I can and intentionally focus on things that I am grateful for while exercising.
- I will look daily at inspirational weight loss stories and remember that anything is possible with determination. I will put materials into my mind that promote the improvement of all aspects of my life and have nonjudgmental people in my life that support and hold me accountable.
Now it is your turn: In the space below, list five ways you can overcome your personal barriers and negative outlook toward exercise. Utilize the portions of the book that you have completed so far to assist you (Self-talk, Impacts on Yourself and Others Etc.)
In the space below, please list three forms of exercise that you may enjoy.
Only in small, hardcore bodybuilding or exercise circles do we hear that people enjoy the pain that is experienced during exercise. In fact, most people that exercise regularly will say, “The exercise part of it is not fun but I do like the way it makes me look, feel, and improves my health.” If you can, please list three benefits to exercise that you see as a benefit for yourself in your current weight or health situation. Examples could include improved health, less pain, or even to attract a spouse or partner. Please think about this carefully and make it YOUR OWN reason.
I hope this exercise helps you to move toward exercising more. It is so important and involves past experiences, genetics, and belief systems that take some careful work to manage differently. The beautiful thing is though we are witnessing people all over the country change their belief about exercise and changing their lives because of it. If you are not exercising please begin to as soon as you can. If you need help from a nonjudgmental trainer/coach who has helped thousands of people learn how to exercise safely and effectively, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so you can begin. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!