Fitness & Willpower: It’s Not You
by Green Mountain at Fox Run Program Director, Erin Risius, MA
Was “working out more” or “getting fit” your New Year’s resolution? If so, you’re in good company, but chances are you started your exercise routine with a bang, but now it’s more of a fizzle. Research shows:
- A 50 percent chance that you quit your exercise program by Valentine’s Day.
- A 70 percent chance you will quit by June 1st.
- A 90 percent chance you will quit by this time next year.
No Pain, No Gain, No Good!
The reason for these dismal stats is not your willpower, as is commonly blamed. It more likely has to do with the approach you take, which is often “no pain/no gain.”
No pain/no gain exercise is characterized as high intensity, joyless, sometimes even painful exercise, and is widely viewed as the approach necessary to get results, which tend to be focused on weight loss. But when weight loss is the primary goal, a common tendency is to try to achieve it at any cost.
This approach actually kills your willpower. Exercise that entails pain and misery sets up a psychological resistance to movement, and this is especially true for those who are new to exercise and are just beginning to create a foundation of fitness.
This mentality is only perpetuated by the fitness and entertainment industries because they are capitalizing on what sells (the promise of weight loss), and not what will work long term.
What to Do When Willpower Vanishes
If you find yourself placing physical activity last on your to-do list, re-evaluate your approach. Start with these questions:
- Do you enjoy the activity?
- Do you exercise to the point of exhaustion?
- Are conditions in your body exacerbated instead of alleviated with movement? Think joint pain.
- Are you often painfully sore after working out?
If you answered no to the first question and yes to one or more of the remaining questions, maybe it’s time to rethink your approach in order to make fitness a way of life.
Testing Your New Approach
Trying out different activities until you find something that you want to do – not need to do – makes all the difference. I often hear from the women in Green Mountain’s fitness program who thought they could never love exercising that once they changed their mindset, their results changed, too. “I finally understand the right way to exercise” is a common phrase I hear. I hope that you can find that, too!