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I Used To Hate Exercising

Have you ever decided that you wanted to get fit?  So much so, that you even went to the gym, bought the membership and now it’s sitting unused in the drawer? The personal trainers haven’t worked, the New Year’s resolutions abandoned, and the excuses kept adding up.

If that sounds like you, then you are not alone. The journey to health and fitness isn’t easy. It makes sense that getting fit includes exercise but it’s so hard to get momentum.  Life gets busy and we often blame that busy-ness for why we can’t get active.

However, what if I told you that there were easy ways to get back into exercise? What if you could change the way you think about exercise and start enjoying it?

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I grew up hating exercise. I had always been overweight and preferred staying in and eating than getting out and being active. I would reluctantly play tennis and netball, and when it came to school sports day I’d search for a reason to avoid it. As an adult, I’d give it a go every now and then; I’d get the bike out or go for a run. I was enthusiastic for a few days, maybe a week or two but then I’d let other things get in the way.

One day, I asked a friend of mine, who was a professional athlete, to help me learn how to run. Steve said it was easy and he’d take me out the next day.

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The next morning, I was motivated. I went out and got all the gear, matching shorts & shirt, new runners, and hat. I was ready. When he said go, I ran. I pushed myself so hard to show him what I could do.

Keep it simple and easy

After the first bolt, I heard someone calling out. I looked around to see Steve at jogging pace calling out to me. “Slow Down!” I slowed down, yet he continued to call out, “Slow down!” I slowed down again and he caught up to me. I was barely running. He said I was still going too fast, even though I could walk faster than I was currently running. He said that I had to keep running at a slower more consistent pace. A car drove past us then, the people in the car looked at me on my ‘bouncy walk’. I was embarrassed but I kept going.

After five minutes, Steve said it was time to turn back. I turned around confused. I’d hardly even warmed up and we were going home? Steve asked me how long I could run like this. I replied that I could continue for quite a long time. It was a slow and easy run. He said that was good.

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When we got closer to home, Steve told me the most important part of the run is how you finish. You have to finish strong and as I do, I needed to throw my arms in the air and celebrate like I’m finishing my first marathon. As we crossed the ‘finish line’, I did it. I threw my arms up, jumped around, cheered, high-fived Steve and smiled. I’d completed my first run!

I asked Steve how far I would run tomorrow. He said that I would do the same five-minute run at the same speed for six months. I stopped and looked at him. What? He repeated that I had to do the same speed at the same time and celebrate like crazy at the end of every run, every day for the next six months. Six months felt like an eternity. Yet, I did it.

The surprising thing was that because it was easy, because I celebrated at the end of every run, I started enjoying it. I would run when it was dark, when it was raining, when I had been out late the night before. Every day, the first thing I did in the morning was to get up and go for a run. It was fun!

Celebrating was the key… Here’s why

Every time we do something, we are creating a positive, negative or neutral association with it. Take, for example, a food that you love. For me, I love Vegemite on toast. It reminds me of home and of growing up. I have a stack of positive emotions attached to the memories of eating Vegemite toast. In contrast, I hate anchovies because I have negative emotions attached to the memories of eating anchovies.

The same thing happens with all our experiences. So, when I didn’t like exercise, it was just that I had a stack of negative emotions associated to the memories of exercising. This is also one of the reasons why some people are naturally motivated to go to the gym while other people go once or twice and hate it.

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Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer

Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight.  In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.

Understanding this helped me to start enjoying running. By making it easy and celebrating at the end, I created more and more positive emotions attached to running. If I had increased the speed or distance too soon, then I risked collapsing the stack of positive associations I was making for running. Consistency is important.

Of course, the most important part of the run was celebrating at the end. By jumping around feeling good about myself, I was helping to create consistency in building those positive experiences about exercise.

Little things become big things

Naturally, after six months, I started running for longer each day. A few metres extra each day or week, I’d run where I had run to the day before and add a couple steps. The next day I’d run to where I had run to the day before and then add a couple more steps. A small action done consistently, every day, adds up to a big thing in time. If you run 100m on the ““`first day, then increase that by 10m a day, within 6 months you’ll be running over 2.5km. Ten meters may be too far to start with but you get the idea, and I only did this after I had made sure that the running was easy and positive for 6 months first. It didn’t take long until I was running 3km, then 5km, then 10km – all at the same slow ‘bouncy walk’ pace and still celebrating at the end of each run.

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