This week’s theme in our program is about exercise. For many people struggling with overweight, “exercise” is a dirty word. It conjures up fear, resignation, and memories of failure.
But please read on! We’re not going to go there! I’m going to show you a completely new way to think about exercise, and give you the secret to retraining your brain to love exercise.
“Love exercise? You must be kidding, Dawson! Exercise is hard!” Yes, I know that’s what you’re probably thinking, but it does not have to be that way. Let me explain.
When I first began going to a gym as a teenager, I was already on my way to being overweight. The gym I went to was owned by a muscle-bound hulk called Cory. He wasn’t very smart. In fact, he was said to be “thick as a brick.” As I would sweat and strain at the machines, his favorite saying was, “No pain, no gain.” This was a mantra in the gym community, and you probably also heard it from an early age. So we’d try harder, and feel worse, even if we succeeded in building up our muscles.
Unfortunately, what we were doing was conditioning ourselves in the most unhelpful way possible. We were training ourselves to associate exercise with pain. No wonder you learned to hate the gym!
This week, we’re going to start breaking your old habit of associating exercise with pain. Instead, we’re going to rewire your brain to do the opposite. Karen and I are going to train you to associate exercise with pleasure. Is that possible? You bet! To get started, be sure to read Karen’s essay on joyful movement. In fact, let’s start right now by calling exercise “joyful movement” instead of “exercise.”
We’re also going to share with you the secret of the very best form of joyful movement to support weight loss.
What’s that secret? What’s the best form of joyful movement? Is it walking, running, squats, the plank, or chin ups?
Here’s the answer: The best form of joyful movement is the one you will actually DO. Regardless of whether it’s swimming, walking, weight lifting, yoga, or aerobics, pick one you enjoy and makes you feel good. Do it for as long as it’s pleasurable, and then stop as soon as it becomes a strain. Remember Top Dog and Underdog from Week 1? Don’t push yourself.
As you do just enough joyful movement to challenge yourself and feel good, and stop the moment you feel back, you will undo the “no pain, no gain” paradigm. You will retrain your brain to associate movement with pleasure. When you start moving and challenging your body, your cells start to release endorphins, or “feel-good” neurotransmitters. That’s why runners get what’s called a “runner’s high” after a few minutes of running, and why you’ll start to feel good after going to the gym.
Each day this week, do aim for at least 10 minutes of joyful movement. (If you’re doing more than that right now, it’s not necessary to cut back unless you feel like you are overexercising). What you do is entirely up to you, but write that movement appointment into your calendar right now. You don’t need to do the same thing every day. You might walk one day, go to Yoga another day, take a Step Aerobics class another day, and follow along with a Tai Chi class on YouTube another day.
The only mistake you can make is failing to write your movement plan into your schedule. Pull out your pocket calendar, or phone, or online calendar right now, and write down a time each day when you will joyfully move.
Listen to Karen’s coaching call this week and tap along. Download the Tapping Scripts and tap along with them. These include Scripts for Resistance to Exercise and other common obstacles. You’ll find your resistance melting as you do your tapping. Read the PDFs and post your experiences in the Forum.
Nowadays, I love going to the gym, because I’ve re-trained my brain to associate exercise with pleasure. When I go to a trip and I’m deprived of my gym time, I suffer from “exercise deficit disorder.” The day I return home, I head straight for the gym. No-one is going to get between me and a good time! As you do a modest and sensible amount of your favorite exercise each day, you’ll re-train your brain as well. Keep this up for a few weeks, and your body will become addicted to the feel-good endorphins exercise produces. You’ll be hooked for life!
Your #1 supporter on your weight loss journey,