The Secret to Workout Willpower

When I started working out, it seemed like a chore. I knew physical activity was crucial for overall health and wellbeing, so I reluctantly dragged myself to the gym, like a robot, every single day. Usually, I would wake up early to squeeze it in to my day, otherwise I would go at the end of the day when I was usually tired and not in the mood. I detested it. Yes, there had to be something to keep me coming back besides the mere intellectual understanding that it’s good for me. I will admit my endorphins did go for a sweet ride after my 30 minutes on the stationary elliptical machine, and afterwards, I would sometimes feel a little ‘exercise high’. That feeling didn’t last long though, because the next day I would have to face the burden of scraping myself from wherever I was to go do it all over again. I also didn’t notice many physical results. Sounds healthy, right?

I ended up changing my workouts altogether, which is another story. The majority of my current exercise routine is a hybrid of yoga, biking, calisthenics, barre, and walking. I absolutely love moving my body, and I look forward to it each day. In fact, if I don’t workout, it affects my entire mood and energy. It is my body/mind fuel. And it works.

Keep reading. I am not suggesting that the answer to workout willpower lies solely in switching up your routine, though that may be an important part of the equation. What I noticed through my years of exploring exercise is that when I resist an upcoming workout, it is usually a workout that involves other people and places. For example, knowing that I am going to a yoga class that is bound to be packed, mat to mat, gives me a bit of anxiety, and urges my mind to create excuses of why I shouldn’t go. Even the notion of going to the gym is somewhat stressful for me, because it’s just a lot. There are so many machines, people, loud music, weights smashing on the ground, etc. As someone who likes to move her body in the morning, the idea of shifting from a deep eight hour slumber to a loud room filled with other people doesn’t sound very natural or exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love group classes and sometimes even like a good old fashioned gym workout… but in moderation.

What works best for me is working out alone. Simply alone. Whether I am riding my bike or holding a plank or doing sun salutations in my room or dancing to my favorite song, when I am alone, I feel I can concentrate and focus the best. I feel so high afterwards. I have more energy since it’s not being exhausted by the external stimulation of a busy gym or studio. I have heard clients say that they like the gym because it’s motivating, and that’s true! And it’s great! If you want to be motivated during an at-home workout, watch a workout DVD or cut out some inspiring images and affirmations and paste them on your wall. I use my breath as my soundtrack, and it is almost like an active meditation. I feel energized and relaxed afterwards.

We are all different, so I am suggesting these tips for those of us who find ourselves making excuses or feel overwhelmed to get up and get going in the ‘traditional’ workout setting. I am suggesting, loud and clear, that you are NOT lacking willpower. It’s a matter of finding what works for you. I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), and if this article resonates with you, maybe you are too. Take this test to find out.

Here are some examples of home/self workout (Google/YouTube these if you are unsure how):
-Hold plank
-Jumping Jacks
-Yoga sun salutations
-Dance to your favorite song (I guess you can’t Google this one)

And just to remind you (repeat to self): ‘I am stronger than I think… I take care of my body… I am patient with myself… I am healthy… I am the architect of my life and my body… I deserve to feel proud of my body… fitness is my health insurance… I have the strength to make my dreams come true… I am determined and committed…’ anything else?

Post your results and insights in the ‘comments’ box below!


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  1. charlotte on June 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

    This is a GREAT article. Simple and yet so powerful!! Love!!

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