What is your mindset with exercise? Another way to ask yourself is; What is your Why for exercise? The reason I ask is because your Why matters, and it will dictate how you will exercise whether it’s good or bad. Ideally the mindset of exercise should be a positive one, helping you move better and feel better physically and mentally. You should be leaving the gym feeling better than you did coming in and that goes for your physical state but also your mental state. Here is how you should not use exercise; you should not use exercise as a form of punishment. This is an unhealthy relationship with exercise that does more harm than good to your physical and mental health. The mindset here is to work off/ burn off all the food I ate the night before or from the weekend. In the gym you do cardio till you’re drenched in sweat or perform some kind of High Intensity workout till you can not move, in hope to burn off the calories you consumed. Short term you may see results so you continue, but long term this is unsustainable. Over time you are beating your body till you get achy joints and sore all the time. Mentally you’re fatigued and doing everything you can to push through a workout, telling yourself you have to work harder because you have not seen results in awhile. Let me just tell you that this is exhausting and unsustainable, meaning you will not be able to perform this way forever. This can cause you to hate exercise and avoid it altogether.
We want to have a healthy relationship with exercise. What does this look like? First, you need to know that exercise is meant to get you to move better, feel better, be stronger, run longer, run faster, build muscle, improve health conditions, and so much more. What exercise should not be used for is to burn calories, it is not efficient and is a very small portion of total calories burned in a day. I go over metabolism and how your body burns calories in detail in my article, What is Metabolism? The goal is to perform the least amount of work to elicit optimum results. You need to ask yourself Why you are exercising and be honest. If the goal is to lose fat, then you have to look into changing your nutrition, making sustainable changes. The mindset has to be positive on Why you are exercising. I will use myself as an example here. My Why for fitness has changed over the years, starting with aesthetics then performance for sports. Now, my Why is my kids. I want to have the ability to run around and play with my kids without fear of getting hurt, fatigue, or crazy sore. I want to be a role model for them for physical health and show them that exercise can be fun and rewarding and that it is a normal part of life. I look at exercise as a way to better my body for life. Playing with my kids is a part of life that I do not want to miss out on. With that said, I use exercise to get my body strong in all planes of motion, being mobile, working on cardiovascular health, to make sure that it can withstand the stress of playing in the yard.
Everyones Why is different so your training program should be aligned with your goals and your Why for that goal. You will have to change your mindset of what exercise is. Exercise is not this punishment you have to do, but it is this tool that can help change your life for the better when done correctly. Proper exercise is more than just for looking good, it can help you feel better mentally and physically. Use exercise to make your joints feel better, feel stronger, and use exercise as a way to relieve some stress from life. Just do not use it as a form of punishment, do not go so hard that you can barely walk out of the gym and be sore for days. Work on changing your mindset of exercise by building a positive relationship with exercise and ask yourself, Will this workout help me move and feel better? This will help prevent being burnt out and help make fitness sustainable forever, which is the goal.