Suddenly I love exercise. I’ve loved it just about every single weekday for way more than a month. That’s a total record for me. Until now, sticking to any kind of exercise routine has been impossible. I just. couldn’t. do. it.
Because, I lied a little bit in that first sentence. I actually hate exercise. I hate swimming, running , I even hate walking. I’ve tried a whole heap of things over many, many years to get into an exercise habit: meeting up with countless friends for crack-of-dawn power walks; buying expensive gym memberships an embarrassing number of times; using a local nightclub as a weekly dance class; trying random sports like rowing, hockey, belly dancing and aqua aerobics. Oh my word, have I tried.
Main reasons I hate exercise:
Then there’s the whole fitness thing. Despite my loathing of exercise, I’ve actually always been reasonably fit so this lets me get away with not having an exercise routine. How is this possible? Well, for a few reasons, actually.
Firstly, I’m incidentally fit. I’m happy to do any kind of exercise that has a purpose, so despite my loathing of breaking a sweat we walk to school. I’ll happily park blocks away from the shops, I take the stairs, I clean my house with gusto, I garden, I push myself to heave extra bags of groceries up the stairs rather than go back to the car for one last trip. Basically, as long as I’m walking to somewhere or from somewhere, I’ll walk for hours. And if I’m in a hurry, I might even run a bit.
Secondly, I like yoga and stretching and have been doing both since forever. Don’t make me do them. Don’t make me have a ‘morning yoga routine’ or anything horrible like that and I’ll happily do yoga or stretch several times a week, when I feel like it.
Thirdly, I like being outside. I think we are naturally more active when we are outside and luckily that happens for me for a good part of every day.
So all of that goes on in my life and I feel pretty good, but lately I’ve been walking every single weekday for about 45 minutes and I just can’t get over how righteous I feel. This new walking habit ticks precisely none of my boxes: I follow the exact same steep path at roughly the same time of day every day – so it’s boring and routine and I get all sweaty. And I’m not actually walking to anywhere so there is nothing incidental about this new habit.
So what’s making me do it? Why now after all these years?
I am only allowed to listen to podcasts when I’m walking or running and at no other time. And I’ve discovered I love podcasts – it’s like having someone read to you. So out I go. In fact, everyday I look forward to getting out there and going for my boring, routiney, sweaty walk because I love the podcasts I listen to so much. Here are my top 6 right now:
1. Happier with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft
2. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert
4. The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary
5. The Minimalist Podcast with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
6. Zen Habits Radio with Leo Babauta
So, my advice for anyone who is struggling with making exercise a habit is this: don’t make exercise a habit, make a reward for exercising a habit. Try a podcast carrot.
What makes you want to exercise?