Make exercise fun, but focused.

When it comes to your exercise regime you need to find something that you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick to it, which is important, as consistency is the key to achieving our goals and of course for our long-term health. We can very often get sidetracked talking about new training systems and methods, but in the end it comes down to sustainability and consistency. And these are directly related to engagement – which means having a little fun along the way.

If you are positively engaged with something, a want to, rather than have to, it provides a significant change in mindset and a positive mindset about exercise is absolutely essential. How we frame physical exercise not only affects what we get from our workouts, it also has a huge bearing how we behave away from the gym and the results that we’ll see overall. We can all endure things we don’t enjoy for a short period, but we will not do so forever, so finding our fitness anchor is vital.

That said, whilst it is hugely important that we find something that we enjoy, there is a fine balance to be struck if you have a specific goal in mind. Those of us who seek only to enjoy individual workouts often end up doing too much of the stuff that we enjoy and not enough of the stuff that we actually need to do. We become focused on the experience rather than the overall outcome. Often times this leads to a lack of results because we don’t stick to something for long enough for it to work. It is the curse of instant gratification, which, as we know all to well, very rarely gives us what want in the long term.

A big step for many of us is to make the shift towards performance goals and a moving towards something, rather than a moving away from something less positive. The end product is the same, but if we focus on continually improving ourselves, rather than focusing on things that cause us angst – being overweight for example – we are far more likely to enjoy the process. Sure, you’ll need to push your physical boundaries occasionally, but when you see improvement, there is plenty of enjoyment to be found in a little suffering.

This allows for a more positive approach when it comes to nutrition also. What we eat becomes more about fuelling ourselves to get better (or otherwise if we make poor choices), not merely depriving ourselves to be thinner. If we feel that we’ve suffered, we often feel that we need compensated in some way, often via the gratification derived from the foods that we eat. We have probably all been the person who overeats after a bout of exercise, a very easy thing to do in a moment of post exercise low blood sugar weakness, but something that we are less likely to do if we don’t feel like we’ve ‘earned it’ for enduring the tedium of our forty-five minute workout.

In the end, nothing is more fun than achieving your goals. And nothing will inspire us to make better choices than seeing the tangible difference that exercising and eating a certain way does for us. Most people want a certain outcome from their time spent exercising. Be clear about your goals and objectives and stick to the plan that you have laid out to get there, but make sure to make your exercise enjoyable by including some of the things that you enjoy. For some people this is as simple as music. For many of us it’s about being around like-minded people who spur us on. For all of us, it’s about doing the bits we really need to, whilst balancing this with the stuff we like to do.

We all want to be generally healthy, but most of us also have specific goals around losing weight, getting stronger and improving our fitness. So whilst it is important that we find a way of working out that we enjoy, we must be careful not to place enjoyment of the experience over the final outcome. Where there is frustration around lack of progress, there is almost always a lack of focus on the end goal.

We need to find a way of exercising that is fun, but focused. Have fun, but keep one eye firmly on the end goal. As with everything, it is important to find the right balance.