Do You Dread Exercise? Maybe You Need A Change Of Mindset

How many of you dread going to the gym?  Do you hate the idea of exercising?  I am sure you know it is good for you, but can you just not make yourself enjoy it?

These are very common thoughts so don’t feel alone if you answered yes to any of them.  However, I believe these thoughts and feelings can be overcome by changing your mindset on exercise.

Here is what I mean.

I want you to think about why you exercise?  Why do you think you need to go the gym?

Is it because you need to burn some extra calories?  Because your doctor told you it would be good for you?  Because you think it will benefit your heart ?  Are you hard on yourself or do you feel lazy if you do not exercise?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then read on – it is time for a change in your mindset.

I used to think these same things when I was battling my eating disorder.  I wanted to be really healthy and felt that I needed to run to do this.  So pretty much everyday I would hop on the treadmill or go outside for a run.  I hated it!!  I always dreaded doing it and never looked forward to it.  It did make me feel better after I was done but only because I had exercised, and I was convinced that exercising made me healthy.

My wife Emme was the same way.  She would always get up in the morning and go for a run before class or work.  She was always in a bad mood until she finished her run.  Then she was fine.  She was just like me; she hated running.  However, her reasons for running were slightly different than mine – she felt she needed to run to burn extra calories and keep off any unwanted fat.

Fast forward to today and neither of us hardly ever run.  We may go out for sprints in the summer a few times, but it is never really planned and we have fun with it.  We never jog because we do not enjoy it (I am not trying to slam jogging.  If you enjoy it, that is  great – you should do it.).

We still “exercise” 3-5 times a week, and we have fun doing it.  So how did we change our mindset?

We found something we enjoy.  We both lift weights and occasionally do some bike sprints, sled pushes and pulls, or KB swings as “finishers”.  We also go for walks when the weather is nice.

KB Armbar
Emme getting ready to train

We do not exercise to burn calories or punish ourselves.

We set goals for our exercise.  Emme has competed in two powerlifting meets and even when she is not prepping for a competition she is trying to get stronger on certain lifts.

I am currently trying to gain muscle so each session I am focused on pushing myself by adding more weight, more reps, or decreasing my rest periods.

Lastly, we do not force ourselves to exercise to be healthy.  This was a big change in mindset for me.  It has taken a while for me to achieve this mindset, but the longer I “exercise” the more I realize how little missing one or two sessions here and there impacts my fitness and health goals.  It is more important to stay consistent over the long-term.

So how can you change your mindset?

Find something active you enjoy.  If you love to run, then run.  If you like to play basketball, then find some friends to play with or join a league.  If you like to lift weights, then join a gym or build your own.

Your “exercise” does not have to be structured.  It does not have to be in a gym for a certain amount of time or for a certain number of days.  Just build consistency.

Get out of the mindset that you need to crush yourself to have a good workout.  Sweat and exhaustion do not characterize a good workout.  You should leave your workout feeling more energized than when you started.


I am also a big believer in starting small.  What are you currently doing?  If you are only walking twice a week do not start running five days a week to get healthy.  This will most likely be unsustainable.  Maybe start running one day a week if that is what you enjoy while keeping up with your walks on the other two days.

After a week or two add in an additional day of running if you feel good and are enjoying yourself.

Get out of the mindset that you need to “exercise” for X minutes Y times a week.  If you are feeling tired one day, then relax or maybe go for a short walk.  Never force yourself to exercise.

Also, as I said above, your “exercise” does not have to be structured, and it does not have to take place in a gym.  You can always break it up throughout the day.  Bust out some bodyweight squats, push-ups, and planks here and there during the day.  This is a great way to get in added activity.

Set a performance goal.  If you like to lift weights, there are a ton of goals you can aim for.  Maybe you want to do a chin-up, a push-up from the floor, or squat your bodyweight.  Whatever it is, find a performance goal and “exercise” to achieve that.  You are much less likely to dread exercise if you set these goals.

Stop viewing exercise as a means to burn extra calories.  Exercising actually burns very few calories.  What you eat has a much larger impact on losing fat or gaining muscle.  So set a performance goal and start exercising to accomplish that instead of focusing on calories.  Your body composition, strength, fitness, and confidence will all thank me later.  🙂

I hope these have convinced you that exercise does not have to be something you dread.  You simply have to change your mindset and find something you enjoy doing.  Exercise does not have to be boring and exhausting.  It should energize you and add value to your life, not take away from it.

What do you think?  Have you dealt with dreading workouts in the past?   How have you overcome that mindset and become consistent?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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