How to exercise when you don’t want to

November 7, 2015

This is my newest experiment.
I’ve noticed that either you’re a natural exerciser or you can’t stand it. You’re either a brain person or a body person. It’s rare that you are both.

Exercise seems to be much harder for folks who are good with their brains. Think Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos (who once said, “exercise and me don’t get along.”)

I can work out my brain all day long with as much knowledge work as possible but I cannot stand working out. Not even for 10 minutes.

Before I get to my technique, I want to share a few quotes that helped me figure this out.

1. This is Marie Kondo’s big discovery after years of struggling to clean up and clear clutter. Don’t focus on what to throw out. That’s too hard. Instead, focus on what you want to keep. Keep what sparks joy when you hold it in your hands and discard the rest.

2. This is what Jeff Bezos says about figuring out what to do in business. Most people try to figure out the next hot trend. They try to chase the next big thing. The more important thing is to instead focus on things that won’t change. We know that in 10 years, no customer is going to say: “we want products delivered slower.” Everyone wants lower prices, larger selection, and faster delivery. So we focus on that.

3. In a book about Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, there’s a quote about his big breakthrough. He realized that most coaches try to look for weaknesses in the other team. And try to exploit that. The better thing to do is to focus on their strengths, and then take that away. This is what he did masterfully against the heavily favorite St. Louis Rams in Superbowl 36. He figured out that their whole offense did not run thru uber quarterback Kurt Warner (conventional wisdom), but thru their running back Marshall Faulk. He devised a defensive strategy where Faulk got hit on every play, whether he was getting the ball or not. And Bill ended up winning his 1st superbowl for NE.

We need to look at things differently is the point of these quotes.
All these years, I knew I should exercise. I knew exercise is good for me. And I would try different forms (weight lifting, yoga, personal trainers, p90x, gyms, bjj, kettlebells, etc) but inevitably quit.

I was tackling this the wrong way.

Instead of focusing on why exercise is good and what to do, I need to look at why I don’t exercise and what not to do.

The hypothesis: If we take away all the reasons why we don’t exercise, then naturally we will exercise.

I made a list this morning of all the reasons I don’t want to exercise.
1. It’s boring.
2. It’s hard.
3. It takes too much energy.
4. I don’t know what I like.
5. I don’t know what to do.
6. I don’t feel like doing it.
7. I get discouraged when the results don’t come fast.

What are the things I don’t want to do?
1. I can’t stand busy gyms.
2. I don’t like running.
3. I don’t like personal trainers.
4. I don’t like having to leave my house to do it, especially in the fall & winter.
5. I don’t like group classes.
6. I don’t like depending on a person, place, or thing to exercise.

Then I came up with ways to take away these negatives.
1. Mood, energy, mindset related obstacles
This is an energetic issue. We can treat it with an energetic solution.

I used a couple rounds of EFT in the morning. Saying things like “I fucking hate exercise,” “I just don’t want to do it,” while tapping.

2. Reasons to exercise
As I was tapping, my brain started getting new ideas on why I should exercise. It’s like I mopped away the dirt to reveal the clean floor.

a. Exercise is a mood lifter. It boosts neurochemicals.
b. Builds confidence
c. Builds energy
d. Better heart rate coherence
e. Body strength, flexibility, resilience
f. Better blood and oxygen efficiency
g. Raises body temperate, which is soothing and relaxing
h. Better brain health, memory, new neural connections
i. etc etc

As I listed more and more reasons to exercise, I saw the scales in my mind shift. My subconscious mind started seeing that exercising is more beneficial than not. Anything that’s in our best interest subconsciously, we will do.

3. What to do
After years of experiments, I have a few exercise tools in my arsenal.
a mini elliptical
kettlebells
yoga dvds & apps
bodyweight exercises

My brain naturally categorized them while I was tapping.
a. High Intensity Interval Training Cardio – use mini elliptical
b. Weight lifting – use kettlebells
c. Work on core – yoga
d. Get nature & inspiration – nature walks
e. Variety and easy to do anywhere – bodyweight circuits

Then all of a sudden, I got this strong urge to exercise.
So I played an episode of Southpark and put on my headphones (to keep my brain from getting bored), and did a 10minute HIIT on my elliptical.

Sweat a ton. Felt great. Energized for the rest of the day.

My new plan is to exercise first thing in the morning. When my willpower and energies are at their highest. Eat that frog first! And to keep doing EFT to increase the desire to exercise.

This method might be the holy grail for us nonexercisers. Take away all the reasons you don’t want to exercise and you will find yourself exercising.

Try it out.