Don’t exercise to lose weight. Exercise to FEEL wonderful.

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If you sign up for a gym membership, “transformation” program, boot camp or “box n burn” package, you will spend the next 6 or so weeks furiously exercising under the assumption that you will lose weight. You might lose a few kilograms.

And you will most likely hate every minute of it and put the weight back on when you stop.

But if you spend the rest of your life engaged in exercise that you actually enjoy, over that time you will lose a lot more weight and do so in a way that contributes to the quality of your life.

Which do you think is better for you? A lot of exercise for 6 weeks or a little bit of exercise every week for the rest of your life?

In the second scenario, you are not exercising to lose weight. You are exercising to feel wonderful.

The contribution that exercise makes to weight loss has been blown out of proportion by a fitness industry expert in capitalising on your misery. We are made to think that we need to make exercise choices that burn the most number of calories. This is nonsense.

We don’t even need to exercise to lose weight. There are numerous other levers that can be pulled to get the scales moving in the right direction – being nourished, getting enough sleep, less stress, reduced toxin load and positive mindset for example.

Yes, we need to exercise. But not for weight loss or even health.

Our behaviours are largely governed by two “systems” – logic and emotion. The logic system tells us to exercise because it is good for us and necessary to lose weight. Taking action based on logic usually requires effort but more importantly – willpower. Willpower is a finite resource and slowly but inevitably exhausts itself.

The emotional system is different. It can motivate us effortlessly, based on our feelings and often just outside our awareness. We don’t need willpower. We do it because it FEELS good. It feels light, not heavy.

How you feel about exercise will always win out over the logical reasons for doing so.

What if we thought about exercise as something that contributes to the quality of our life? What if 30 minutes spent exercising was the fuel for the other 23 and half hours in the day and made those hours somehow easier and more enjoyable?

What if exercise was to connect with ourselves, with nature, with others? What if it was to relieve stress? Change an overwhelming emotion? To ensure that we can move about more easily and without pain? To sleep better? To improve posture? As time to work on your tan? To nourish every living cell in your body? Or just to feel good at the beginning or end of each day?

How do we do this? First we figure out the “why”. Why will I exercise? What will make it meaningful? Why will it feel good? What will exercise give me NOW? Not in 6 weeks or at some time in the future, but how will it contribute to the quality of my life right now? What if exercise could actually give us instant gratification?

In this way, the reason becomes the motivation. The benefits are tangible and meaningful. Exercise no longer is a chore – it becomes a gift.

Only then do we consider the “how”. Make exercise “an experience of moving”, make it self-care not self-punishment. Everything counts – it does not have to be high intensity, uncomfortable or for 30 minutes in some mythical fat burning zone. It does not have to be for weight loss or even health.

Those things will happen over time. Because you are exercising and you feel wonderful.
(Article based on the brilliant book by Michelle Segar PHD, No Sweat – How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness.)

If you need some help to figure out your “why” and “how” we can help. Click here to check out our exercise consultation service.