This blog is for those of you that have a difficult time feeling warm and fuzzy about your cardio machine experience. Or, perhaps because of overwhelming feelings of dread, the experience never even happens. Or, this blog can also apply if you are pretty regular but have times when you experience a dip in your enthusiasm.
I am hoping in these next few paragraphs to give you some sort of mantra other than, “I know this is going to be torture”, or “I hate this…how soon can I get off?”, or “This is so boring!”
If you are having thoughts like these, it can take a tremendous amount of will power or self-talk to get you on the darn thing in the first place, let alone stay on it for any length of time.
The point: There are ways to actually start liking the experience. To do this, you can take a few minutes to implement some strategies that can change the experience for you. Once achieved, you can move on from “I know I should, but…” to reaping all the benefits that cardio exercise can bring.
Consider These Things
1. Where is it? If you have a treadmill (or other cardio machine) in your home or apartment, take a look at the environment it is in. Is it stuck in the basement? Is there a window close by at all? Has it been shoved into an area as an afterthought, where you don’t want to put anything else? The Change: Think of yourself first! What would feel good to you? See if you can rearrange a few things to make this a better environment for you and your cardio machine.
2. Take advantage of the environment. At the gym, there are often rows of machines placed for the convenience of the gym layout, and ambience is not a priority. You can’t do much about that, obviously. The Change: You can fight back! There’s usually a TV to watch. If at all possible, find something that you are actually interested in watching. Don’t torture yourself with drivel. Bring your headphones so you can listen without other gym noises going on.
3. Find your favorite music. At home or at the gym, you can listen to your favorite music or a recorded book. The Change: Instead of suffering in silence, use an MP3, tunes on your phone, or even a disc-man if you still have one. Personal note…when I do cardio at home, I use a good quality CD player system (really a boom box). I look forward to playing music I don’t get a chance to listen to otherwise. I pick things that match my mood.
4. Go for some “Me time.” If you don’t want to use music or TV, you can select a topic to ruminate on while you are moving along. Something that is in need of a solution or different point of view. The Change: It really can be “me time,” a chance to let your mind wander over various things going on in your life. Often solutions come along that you never suspected were there.
5. Want to get away from your thoughts? The Change: Get in touch with how your body is doing. It can have the effect of helping you to stay with the experience longer and more happily. For example, if you are flagging, you can ask yourself two things: Did I ramp up too fast? Or, can I pull back just a bit but keep going? Make the adjustment and congratulate yourself for listening to your body.
You can also pay attention to your breathing. Often we don’t do this, and it can lead to feelings of being more pooped than you really are. Concentrate on regular breathing to the cadence of your stride. Breathe in for 2, out for 2 or 3. Keep it relaxed. Just get into a rhythm that feels comfortable and sustainable. Hang out with it. This can really help.
6. Warm up, take a break, and start over. The Change: It may sound strange, but this tactic often works really well. Get started, and then get off the machine after 5-7 minutes. Walk about for a few minutes, and then get back on. Very often you feel more energized and ready to continue than if you had just stayed on and tried to slog it out.
7. No need to get stuck on a certain length of time or intensity. The Change: Easy does it. Research tells us again and again that discomfort is not a great motivator. Find your bliss. Start slow, increase time and intensity slowly, and remember that you can always adjust down if you are not feeling especially energetic on a given day. You do not need to meet the accepted exercise recommendations all the time. Do what feels good. And, remember, exercise actually CAN feel good AND be fun!
© 2022 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.