As a trainer and fitness instructor, I hear it all the time: I want to get in shape, but I HATE dieting and exercising. In fact, some industries make millions off the fact that the general population would rather have a “quick fix” than actually do the work it takes to get and maintain a fit physique. Pills, procedures, and equipment that promise to turn that flab into FAB without you ever having to break a sweat (or your money back) may offer short-term solutions, but in the long run, they may not be sustainable—or even healthy.
The truth is that there is no magic bullet to getting and staying fit, and while that may sound discouraging to the diet and exercise averse, there is hope—and it starts with reevaluating your definitions of “diet and exercise” and taking it one step at a time. Here are a few tips that, while I can’t promise that they will make you LOVE fitness, they will at least get you moving in the right direction—or your money back!
When people tell me they hate to exercise, and I ask them to elaborate, what I usually discover is that they hate a specific exercise—and that’s okay! I exercise for a living, and I can honestly say I HATE burpees. If you told me the only way to get fit was to do burpees every day for the rest of my life, I’d throw in the towel too. The good news is that there are thousands of ways to move your body, so just find the one that works for you. If you hate running, try cycling, yoga, swimming, Zumba, walking, or playing tennis. When you find something you like, you will stick with it.
Sometimes “hate” is simply fear in disguise. Do you really HATE to exercise, or are you intimidated because you don’t know your way around the gym? Hiring a trainer can help with that. So can joining a group exercise class where you can easily blend in. Can’t afford a trainer? Most gyms have staff on the floor to address customer questions, demonstrate how to use a piece of equipment, and more.
Just hearing the word “diet” makes me feel deprived. It implies punishment and missing out on the things I enjoy in life — like dessert! Change the word “diet” to “nutrition” and see if that helps. Enjoy real, whole foods rather than processed or fast foods. Load up on big salads with chicken or salmon. Blend up delicious smoothies with fresh fruits. When you focus on good nutrition and what you can ADD rather than what you have to SUBTRACT, you will realize that healthy eating is not about restriction.
Don’t expect your habits and mindset to shift overnight. Instead, focus on making small, manageable changes every day, and eventually, they will add up. Craving your favorite cheeseburger? Have it without the bun. Want something sweet? Keep a bar of quality dark chocolate on hand and enjoy a piece. Need to move your body? Go for a walk around your block. Try the 15-minute rule—set a timer for 15 minutes and start exercising, whether that’s strength training or cardio. If, after 15 minutes, you want to quit, do it. However, studies show that once you’ve committed to 15 minutes, you will most likely continue after the timer goes off. Regardless, consistency is key so try for at least those 15 minutes once a day.
If you are trying to get fit in order to make someone else happy, it will never work. You have to do it for yourself. Find your motivation or your “why.” Maybe it’s that you want to lower your risk for life-threatening illnesses like heart disease or cancer. Maybe it’s so that you will have the energy to enjoy your children or grandchildren. Maybe you want to still be able to travel or go out dancing in your golden years. Whatever your reason—visualize it when you are debating whether or not to exercise or eat that extra slice of pizza, and ask yourself if what you are about to do is going to get you closer to where you want to be.
Hate it or not, a healthy lifestyle is one that incorporates good nutrition and some form of exercise. Experiment and find what works for you. Remember, you have one life—how you live it is entirely up to you, but you’ll find that living a healthy and active life is far more fulfilling than living for tomorrow.