I was reading an article this week that said we need to focus on making fitness fun if we’re ever going to combat our country’s obesity epidemic (15million Australians are overweight or obese and the condition is on the rise). Focus on adventure it said, choose activities you love, do it with people you love and keep it relatively painless. Or at least, keep the pain intermittent and employ effective distractions from it.
I get that. I really do. And in a perfect world it would be awesome to achieve great workouts every day that involved nothing but fun and adventure. But I can’t help feeling that sometimes many people just need to swallow a big cup of discipline and get on with it.
People with discipline don’t need to be motivated by fun or any other emotion. Emotions are unreliable. People with discipline just do it. Fun isn’t something I necessarily consider when programming workouts for myself. Depending on my energy levels, mood, previous training sessions, available time and goals, I might make workouts challenging, achievable, scenic, interesting, effective or relaxing. Fun is often only a by-product. The thing that gets you started is discipline.
It’s a myth if you think all trainers, athletes or exercise enthusiasts relish the thought of every single training session. It’s bullshit. We don’t. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dragged myself to training when it’s the last thing I’ve felt like doing. In the heat, in the cold, at 3:30am, in the dark, on my own. You make them happen because of a commitment to yourself, your goals and a strong sense of discipline.
It’s great when workouts are fun (and trust me, they can be!) and you get the chance to train with great people. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be or that you can’t employ this approach in order to get started. But at some point, it’s just not going to be possible to achieve this every day. And if you only train when you feel good, when you have a group to motivate you, when you have oodles of spare time or when you want to, chances are you won’t be doing enough.
Yes, we do need to think differently. We need to stop thinking everything has to be a bucket load of fun. Chores aren’t fun. They are chores. But we do them anyway. If you think exercise a chore, then just add it to your list and do it along with the dishes and taking out the rubbish. Do it for long enough and it will become a lot less of a chore and more of a habit.
You will have plenty of fun along the way but you’ll also never regret the days you didn’t want to do it, but did it anyway.