This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.
Podcast version: HERE
"How can I be consistent with strength training...when I don't currently enjoy it or want to put in the effort? I have a desire to build muscle, for strength, longevity, posture, and overall health and confidence. I want to have the toned body and be a "fit" person, but when I think about lifting weights it feels daunting. My thoughts around it is that it will be hard, require effort and energy that I don't have for it, maybe get injured or too sore, and that it will take a longgg time to even see any changes. I want to change this perspective and maybe even enjoy it."
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
It makes complete sense why you're feeling this way.
The brain will pull you towards what feels GOOD and FAMILIAR. The brain will push you away from what feels BAD and UNFAMILIAR.
The emotion we attach to anything will reassure your brain and nervous system it's either safe or dangerous.
Does describing what you want to your brain with words such as, don't enjoy it, takes effort, daunting, hard, requires effort, takes energy, I don't have the energy for it, I might get injured or hurt, the soreness is awful, it will take forever to get the results I want... Do these pull you TOWARD it or AWAY?
Worded differently, if you told your inner child or any young individual these are the things to expect in this new adventure, that it will be awful, cause you pain, possibly injure you, it will also take forever for you to get what you want, and you don't have the energy but do it anyway, will they be excited eager and jump out of bed eager to start?
Does attaching these emotional feeling words to the action set your heart on fire?
Does this make it seem easy, safe, exciting, adventurous?
Does it paint a picture that this journey is enjoyable, offers growth opportunities, and fosters self-love and gratitude for one's able-body?
Do these words, the way it's being described, come from brute force energy, or does it come from kindness, compassion, hopefulness, curiosity, ease, and flow?
What energy will make working out sustainable?
"Believe you can, and you're halfway there!" Theodore Roosevelt
Holding onto negative emotions causes a downward spiral.
If you knew how powerful thoughts are, you'd never think of another negative one.
We are thinking, feeling beings. What this translates into is each thought creates a feeling, and that feeling will determine the action you'll take, and sometimes the action is "doing nothing" and staying stuck.
Negative emotions stop us from getting and doing what we want.
When we funny humans focus on the negative, we will not take action; the brain and nervous system will prevent us from that sustainability you want. Sure, you might grit and bare it a few times, maybe three weeks, but it won't become a part of your lifestyle or identity.
In your submission, you're ambivalent, meaning you did include some language of what you wanted, followed by a "BUT" that canceled out all that was stated before. Your brain cannot hold onto conflicting beliefs. Just like you can't be happy and sad simultaneously, the strongest emotion will always win, and a negative emotion holds a minimum of 3x the power of a positive emotion.
When we feed the negative emotions, we start to look for proof, evidence, and validation these things are true and accurate. Perhaps there's something wrong with us, and thinking drifts into, "I am just not cut out for working out". See, it's a slippery slope.
Often I witness new clients that not only have this habit of thought in working out. It's actually in a lot of other areas of their life. It's a thought habit, and really in order to break it, it's learning mental fitness exercises that can quickly be done in your daily life, strengthening what I call your Sage mind, or another way to describe it is your right brain activation—commanding your thoughts and feelings to get you more of what you want in life.
Whatever you focus on, you get more of in your life.
If you want to change your life, it embodies the identity and mental strength to feed your brain and nervous system what you want and omit all the rest.
If you google and research consistency, it will pop up first to create a big goal. Goals are fantastic if you attach a positive emotion to it. I personally discovered every goal I set and went for. Along the journey, it changed, shifted, and morphed into something else. Please start with the mindset, and create small actions each day to build up the habit so it's done on autopilot. Enjoy the journey. Yours will be unique to you. If creating small, manageable goals that take a week or month, these will be much easier to attach a positive emotion to, go for that instead. When a goal is rather large, and you're aware it will take a longggg time, that again is attaching a negative emotion and putting Mt Everest in your path. It will amplify the negative emotions making it feel heavy, impossible, burdensome... Set up some reward post achievement for each week or month. This rewards you for your efforts and what you learned and discovered along the way and is something to look forward to and celebrate.
Working out doesn't have to be in a gym or grueling. When I started, I was TERRIFIED of the weight room. I would only enter that area with a personal trainer or my husband. I deeply desired to change my body composition, so I did fitness classes of all kinds, from palates to weights, dance, and TRX, to Zumba, from the back of the class. I graduated in time, when I became more comfortable and established some gym friends to the cardio equipment and the machines, and eventually to free weights.
What's the takeaway?
Reassure your brain with thoughts and language with tremendous energy behind the words, and learn to articulate how you want to feel. Start small and move your body in a way you enjoy, and be open and curious to try things at least once. You never know you might like it.
The biggest thing that helped me generate the identity of being the type of person that works out consistently is that I always showed up. It's what I do. It was a rock in my schedule, and I noticed pretty early on it helped me tremendously rid my body of stress. I worked out after working, sitting at a desk all day, and later found out that's scientifically true. My career had a lot of pressure and expectations that generated a whole lot of cortisol and adrenaline some days that build up in the body and need a release. I called it my therapy.
I am a personal trainer, and still, to this day, hire trainers from time to time to help me in my form and accelerate my strength in specific areas. We all have blind spots, and I can't see around my body 360 degrees; plus, each trainer has their own experience, knowledge, and expertise that I deeply love to learn from. I am a huge advocate for getting people on your team to help you learn, grow, and in this case, prevent injury. Asking for help is an act of courage. With the mindset piece, hire a coach like me!
Strength training can be consistent by addressing fears, finding enjoyment, managing time efficiently, and boosting energy levels (sleep, hydration, quality nutritious food/fuel).
I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!
If you want to send a question, please send to email@example.com please include:
- A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
- And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.
To learn more about mental fitness go HERE