Want an Exercise Regimen You’ll Stick to? Keep it Casual

My fun runs are more fun than yours.

Exercise should be a joyful experience. There’s nothing about moving your body in a safe, exuberant, energetic way that should feel painful or torturous—and if it is, I think you deserve a change. These are my tips to nurture a movement practice that helps you feel GOOD.

Quit Prepping and Just Go

When beginning a new exercise routine, it’s easy to get caught up in the “prep phase”—the time you spend mentally preparing yourself for what’s next. I recently realized that I experience a surge of anxiety before I head out for a run. I have a slew of things I think I have to do before I can start my run, like washing the dishes, going to the bathroom (again), drinking more water, eating a cracker to get a boost of carbs, brushing my teeth, doing yoga, meditating… and more. You might be thinking, “None of those are bad things to do…” and I agree—but the problem was that it made “going for a run” mean so much more. I realized that I was doing all of this extra prep work in the hopes that I’d have some kind of perfect fantasy experience where I can suddenly run faster, happier, farther, and with zero injuries.

Stop Trying to Make it Perfect

I have been practicing releasing the fantasy of a “perfect run”, and learning to embrace my running as I experience it now. I still have to go to the bathroom minimum 3 times before I can leave, but once I started trying to “talk myself down” before my runs and relax into the experience, it made them easier to look forward to. My only two goals with running are to do it regularly and to have fun. I have no mileage goal, no speed goal, and no race I’m training for. I am prioritizing a good experience, because that’s what I need most right now.

Do it Your Way

I make my runs fun by choosing destinations to look forward to. More often than not, I’ll run to a favorite swimming spot, the nice grocery store to pick up an overpriced coconut water mid-run, or I might carry a reusable shopping bag in my running pack and multi-task by running errands during or afterwards. I allow myself to stop as many times as I want, which probably wouldn’t be helpful if I was training for a race, but it takes a lot of pressure off and it’s still a challenging, sweaty time.

You Can Say No

Hot take: I never force myself to exercise when I really don’t want to. I simply don’t believe in doing that to myself. I’m not a child that needs to be reprimanded and scolded into taking care of myself. I am an adult woman, and I know that if I am in a bad mood and don’t want to run, I’m not going to have a good experience by forcing it. I’d much rather wait a few days and go on a longer, stress releasing, emotional run when I feel like that’s what I need.

I think that’s really important for people who are beginning new exercise routines or learning how to move for the first time. Give yourself grace and patience. You are 100% responsible for yourself. You always have permission to say no and revisit it when it’s something you want to do. I think it creates a negative feedback loop to always force yourself to exercise in a certain way—if you’re not excited to go exercise, it’s going to be really hard to have a routine because you’ll always be challenging your brain’s impulse of “noooo I don’t want to!!” which is honestly exhausting. If you drag your feet to the barre class, maybe you should take a break and try something else, like learning TikTok dances or tennis or swimming. There are thousands of ways to move your body and experience a greater range of motion. Life is too short to be dragging yourself to the gym if you’d rather be outside.

P.S. I’m completely procrastinating my run by writing this right now.

July 2 2021

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