I hate exercising. I hate everything about it. I hate being out of breath, hot, sweaty, smelly, and sore. I hate the beeping noise the elliptical makes whenever I fall under the pace of whatever fitness program I’m struggling to keep up with. I hate the “calming,” “soothing” voice of the woman who narrates the yoga DVD I sometimes subject myself to. (Really, lady, your voice is more irritating than anything. I don’t want to breathe through the soles of my feet, thank you.) And I really hate the guilt trip I give myself when I skip a workout. However, I consider myself a pretty practical person and I realize that unless I want to be one of those gigantic people who has to be cut out of her house and weighed at a truck stop, I need to exercise. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Unfortunately for my arguments against exercising, I do almost always feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally after it’s over. I begrudgingly acknowledge that fact and use it to remind myself why I should get on the treadmill when I’m hem-hawing around, trying to come up with excuses as to why I can’t work out that day. There’s usually a running dialogue in my brain when my work day is over and it’s time to go to the gym. It goes something like this:
“God, I’m so tired. I can’t exercise tonight.”
“You need to do it.”
“But I just worked out yesterday. It won’t matter if I skip just one day.”
“If you skip today, it will be easier for you to skip tomorrow. Just go and do it.”
“But I don’t wanna do it! (super whiny inflection here) I hate exercising!”
“Seriously, you sound like a first-grader. Suck it up, get on the elliptical, and be done with it. Then you don’t have to worry about it again until tomorrow.”
“Oh, GAWD, I have to do this again tomorrow? I hate you, responsible part of myself.”
“I know. Now go to the gym.”
It really shouldn’t be that hard to convince myself to do something that I know I have to do for my own health and my own good. I don’t have an argument with myself about paying my bills or going to the grocery store. I just do those things, even though I don’t especially enjoy them. There’s just something about exercise that makes me want to throw myself on the floor, kicking and screaming in a spectacular temper tantrum, to get out of it. That might work when you’re 2 or 3 years old. Not so much when you’re 32.
In any case, I have been better lately about making myself exercise and I’ve started to push myself to do more, keep at it longer, and work harder than I usually do. I’ve found the key for me to be able to do that is music. Put me on a treadmill in front of a TV with the news or some other show on, and all I can think about is how much longer I have to walk. Put me on a treadmill with earbuds in my ears and a good playlist blaring from my iPod, and I can work harder for longer and not focus on how much misery I am in. Instead, I focus on the awesome songs that I breathlessly mouth the words to as they play. If I could figure out how to dance on the treadmill or elliptical while exercising without breaking my neck, I’d do it just because of the music pounding in my ears.
Now, I can’t just have any old tunes going on in the background while I’m working out. It just wouldn’t motivate me like a good upbeat song with a solid beat and fast pace does. When I’m listening to music, it’s hard for me to go faster or slower than the beat so I know I have to pick songs fast enough for me to stick to it and actually burn some calories. Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” isn’t gonna cut it. The songs that I recycle over and over on my current exercise mix include ones like “What Doesn’t Kill You” by Kelly Clarkson, “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida, “Part of Me” by Katy Perry, “Tonight is the Night” by Outasight, “You Make me Feel…” by Cobra Starship, “Ready to Go” by Panic at the Disco, and “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. These aren’t songs that I would necessarily listen to in other situations, but man, are they fun to hear when your feet are pounding the belt of a treadmill. Perfectly mindless, bubblegum pop songs that make me want to walk farther or stay on the elliptical longer. Instead of whining, “I can’t do it anymore,” I actually say to myself, “Just one more song.” If I do that just four or five times, I’ve added 20-25 minutes to my workout. I’ve always known that music is a powerful force, but if it can get me to extend a workout and even kind of enjoy it? Well, that’s down right miraculous.