WHY IS EXERCISE SO HARD?

Why is exercise so hard for me? Why couldn't I be one of those women who love getting hot and sweaty at the gym?

THE ELLIPTICAL TORTURE DEVICE

If you read my blog on a reasonably regular basis, you may have read the post I put up a while ago about buying an Elliptical Exercise Machine. It was the next step in trying to keep my Midlife weight gain under control - sometimes it feels like I'm fighting a losing battle and I thought this machine might be the answer to my prayers.

WHY ISN'T EXERCISE EASY?

The whole idea of buying the Torture Device (as I refer to this machine) was that it would be like walking on air. I would get on and my legs would move and I would float through 30 minutes or so of gentle gliding and before I knew it I'd be trim, taut, and terrific. I'd finally found a really easy way to get fit (or so I thought).

Well, that proved to be a lesson in how little I knew about exercise machines! The TD (torture device) is easy to use and it saves me going out in the early morning cold on my work days, but it is darn hard work! When I started I was needing a rest every couple of minutes - I'm up to about 7 minute brackets now but it's still hard going! And I get tired legs, and puffed and sweaty - where is all that gliding?

WHY DON'T I FIND JOY IN SWEATING?

Some people love pushing themselves, they love the sweat and the intensity. Me...not so much. I just don't find joy in pushing the limits and making my body work hard. I want the calories to fall off while I loll in an easy chair - this sweating idea just sucks!

What is it that makes exercise fun for some people and really tough for others? I thought I was doing okay because I enjoy a daily walk, but when I got on the TD I realized that the daily walk hadn't really done much at all to build up my stamina or my overall fitness. I'm sure it was better than nothing, but certainly not enough to burn through the calories I put in my mouth every day. So how do I motivate myself to keep pushing on when I really don't find any joy in the process?

WHERE IS THE BALANCE?

Part of the answer came when I read a great question on my friend's daughter's Facebook Page The Movement Room. The question she bases her exercise regime on is: 

How do I need my body to perform in order to do the things I love?

"How do I need my body to perform in order to continue to contribute, feel fulfilled, give back to myself and those that I love around me. How do I need it to perform to do the things I love to do?"

I think this is a foundation to work from - and the answer for me is that I need to do more than just sit on my bottom all day or I'm not going to be able to do the things I love as I get older. I need to suck up the fact that exercise is hard work. I need to stop hoping for the "fun" to start, and just put in the time and effort. I don't need to run a marathon (because that will NEVER happen!) but I do need to move my body regularly and sometimes work up a sweat if I want to stay healthy.

I just wish it wasn't so hard! On Wednesday I have my friend Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 and Beyond coming over to talk about exercise and how she manages to be amazingly fit and healthy at 60 - maybe she'll have a few tips for me!

Why is exercise so hard for me? Why couldn't I be one of those women who love getting hot and sweaty at the gym?

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39 comments

  1. Hi Leanne! Exercise is meant to be fun although yes it can be hard work. The secret is to find something you enjoy and then it doesn't feel quite so much of a chore. I can't work those Elliptical machines would you believe and admit I'm not a gym person. I much prefer to workout in the outdoors. You also don't have to kill yourself to be fit and healthy it truly is all about Balance. have a great week!

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    1. I don't think it will ever be fun for me Sue - I quite enjoy going for a walk, but with Midlife spread trying to take over my life I seem to need more than a daily walk and most other things are darn hard work!

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  2. Hi, Leanne - When I read your past post about your new Elliptical Machine, I thought 'oh, oh". I had a similar machine that I had purchased from a friend a few years ago. When my friend ran through its features, I thought that I would love it. I hated it. It was horrid. I admire you for sticking with it and challenging yourself to increase your endurance in increments. I sold my machine (to another friend) not long after buying it myself. Regular walking (with hills thrown in) work well for me. I agree with Sue that the secret to exercise is finding something that you enjoy.

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    1. I'm sticking it out with the elliptical machine Donna because I feel like it actually makes me work a bit harder than walking does (not enough hills in our area!) I was surprised at how hard I found it to begin with - my husband runs and he seems to find it easier than me - his fitness is WAY above mine. I'll keep persevering and see how I go - it's certainly NOT gliding on air!

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  3. I go through phases of grinning and bearing the exercise thing. When I'm at peak apathy, I aim to do something every day even if it's a very low impact workout or yoga. I play mind games by saying if I go to the gym I only have to do 15 minutes. I always end up doing much more. I find little bits and pieces to make going to the gym a bit 'special' I have some new wireless headphones that cost $20 - had to go to the gym to try them out properly... I put skin care samples or things that don't really work for me in my gym bag and apply them after working out.

    The gym is a big part of my fitness regime right now so all of the above may not apply to you but who knows? Maybe?

    SSG xxx

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    1. I've just put a screen into the "gym room" and I'm hoping that watching a youtube show or two will distract me from the tedium. I just wish it was as easy as I'd assumed it would be - shows my lack of gym know-how!

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  4. Oh, I am looking forward to Sue's tips, doesn't she look amazing!? I am the same as you.. I think in my case it's just lazyness. Thank the fitness god that I have got a dog,at least he gets me up and going. 3 times a day walkies, I count that in as exercising!

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    1. I do a walk every day and thought that would be enough but my metabolism is dropping at a faster rate than my walking! Sue is so inspirational in her love of running and boxing and yoga and working with a PT - I envy her enthusiasm!

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  5. I find the same thing about exercise in general, but those types of torture devices in particular. I'm nursing a bit of a back issue at the moment, but when it's a bit better I'm thinking I shall attempt a mix of yoga (to strengthen my core and flex me up, and maybe soothe the mind) and functional training. I get SO bored on those machines, it just doesn't feel like a challenge, and it's NOT fun! Will keep you posted on how I go if I actually motivate myself to get on with this plan :D :D

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    1. I keep thinking about yoga but I've never done it and keep hoping a class will start up nearby - the trouble is I'm too cheap to pay to learn and too ignorant to teach myself from youtube! Definitely keep me posted on your progress Tara - you might inspire me to buy a yoga mat.

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  6. Hi, Leanne! I hear you and I'm with you. Now I have a paid membership at our YMCA and I take a cycling class 3 times a week. That class kicks my butt!! BUT since I paid for it I'm there whenever we're in town. The problem is that we travel so much and I blog. Where are you when you blog? In front of a computer. What do I blog? Italian food and culture. But I'm determined to stay fit and take care of myself. BTW-- I 10 years older than Sue.

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    1. Wouldn't it be lovely if blogging burned calories Marisa? We'd all look like goddesses! I think travel and Italian food would be worth the extra calories. I just want my 20yr old metabolism back and I'd be happy :)

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  7. I hear you! I think it is all about distractions. Can you listen to an audible book or watch TV or something that distracts you while on the TD? Yeah people talk about their endorphin high, I say whatever!

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    1. I've just set up our old desktop screen in the "gym room" and I'm finding watching youtube shows definitely distracts me and makes me less weary of the whole thing Haralee!

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  8. I bought a TD once also. Never got past the 5 minute mark on it. What keeps me exercising ( almost daily!) is this mantra I repeat when I find myself thinking "nah, I'll work out tomorrow" -- "I'll feel better afterward." I do too but DAMN it's hard.

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    1. You are a woman after my own heart Donna! I think you and I share the same exercise mantra - I just wish it made it easier and more fun!

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  9. I'm better than I was, I've stopped feeling that people who say they love exercise are, well, not being "real." Some of the comments have mentioned distraction and if you truly hate the exertion part of it, that might help. Maybe a low treadmill speed on a maximum incline.

    Another thing that might help Leanne, is to spend less time on a greater variety of choices.

    And oh yeah, the elliptical has gone the way of aerobics and fish preparation in things I will never do properly.

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    1. I'm perservering with it Susan because I think it actually does improve my stamina and fitness - I also know in my heart that I need to exercise - I just wish I looked forward to it - or at least "kind of" enjoyed it - suffering is against my religion :)

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    1. She'll be sharing her tips on Wednesday Diane - I have no idea if there is a way to bottle what she has, but I'd be first in line for it if there was!

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  11. I nationally known cardiologist once told me the best way to keep our brain healthy is to exercise. Often folks think doing puzzles is the key............he said, No - exercise is the key to a healthy brain and body! I want both............so I do some form of exercise at least 5X a week. Today, I walked fast for 45 min with a girlfriend. We chatted the whole way, so I didn't even notice I was exercising!

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    1. It's pushing it up a notch that kills me Ellen - doing it harder or longer is the key but I just want easy and smooth - and that's not enough for Midlife and a slower metabolism I'm afraid.

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  12. I paid a gym membership for 'torture' some years back. I went to a couple of classes and used the machines there as well. I found it a real nuisance to get dressed for it, and go. However, there were some things I enjoyed. The strength exercises. Sadly for me, my arthritic body is not made for many of those so I got a refund. What I try to do now is incidental exercise. Park a bit further away at the shops, go for a beach walk because I like the beach, and use the stairs rather than a lift. I do not think I would do well at all with a torture machine either. Gotta give you points for trying!! Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 37/52. Next Week: Movies. It's up to you how you might interpret that one!

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    1. I've always been too cheap to go to the gym Denyse - and I know I'd hate it so I've never bothered. That's why I thought having my own machine might help - the fact that I paid good money for it is an incentive to struggle onwards atm.

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  13. I've come to accept that exercise machines are not for me, I get bored to easily. I love the beach so a coastal walk in the fresh air is something that I am happy to make the time for. I've also started to do yoga pilates from home, i've been to classes in the past but much prefer the home option with a good disc to follow.

    Jenni|unclutter your universe

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    1. I think a home yoga class might be something that is sitting near the top of my bucket list Jenni - I can't see myself paying top dollar to go to a class, but sitting in my living room might be a start.

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  14. I bought an elliptical machine for all the reasons you stated; I gave it to my daughter. I love my treadmill because I love walking. I found I can trick myself into getting on it by saying, "I'm just going to get on it, listen to a podcast and walk a bit. Soon I have my music blasting and I'm into the interval running workout. 30 minutes is gone and I'm done. I never enjoy it. I don't know if I ever will, but there is the motivation of the mid-life spread.

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    1. I am finding that watching something distracts me enough to get through a solid 20+ minutes now Melody. I don't hate it as such, it's just hard to keep the momentum going. When you go for a walk you have to keep going to get home again - it's too easy to stop on a machine!

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  15. Good on you for sharing your experience on the TD Leanne - I like walking and running and have started listening to audiobooks lately. They help pass the time. I agree hills and working harder at it are what's needed. I look forward to Sue's tips.

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    1. I think that's what the TD does for me Deb - it makes it a bit different and uses different muscles - it's just keeping the motivation up that kills me. Walking is a lot more pleasant way to pass the time - and I wish I enjoyed running!

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  16. I must admit I'm not a huge fan of cardio but I still enjoy exercise, particularly weights. I think it's about balance and finding something you love. I know people who love Zumba for example whereas I'm more a bootcamp/body pump kinda person with a bit of yoga and pilates! :D

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    1. I don't think there's anything I "love" in the exercise world Sanch (which is my problem!) but I know I'm useless at anything with rhythm involved (Zumba was a nightmare!) I'll stick to walking and doing some time on the TD.

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  17. It's good to hear that there's someone else out there who is not in love with exercise. Like you, though, I do see the need -- and it's just a discipline: something I've got to do so that I can continue to do the things I enjoy. I like that mindset, and find it so helpful. Thank you!

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    1. I get the whole discipline thing Michele - it's the only thing that keeps me going! I just wish I could look forward to it - you know "gee I can't wait for my early morning run!" Now that would be amazing!

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  18. Oh my goodness, I totally agree with you...exercise IS hard. Hubby and I are usually wiped out afterwards, but we do reap the benefits of more stamina & abilities to do everyday things as we age. So I guess that maybe qualifies as fun? Ha! Not really. I know exactly what you mean. I know it's just something I've got to slug through. I used to say I had a love/hate relationship with the elliptical, and it always amazed me how these young energetic mommas not only go at it fast but talking on the phone too. Here I am barely breathing, but I comfort myself with the thought that I'm probably only 30 years older.

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    1. I think love/hate probably describes it well - it's not the most fun in the world, but once I'm finished I always feel a bit chuffed with myself. My husband runs twice a week and he says he never gets a runner's high - but he always feels good when he stops!

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  19. Yeah I'm not a fan of exercise, but am walking every morning now while listening to a podcast, makes it more enjoyable but some days I still have to force myself. I was feeling cranky coz I haven't lost any weight, but Mr 23 cheered me up by saying I would be building muscle which is a good thing :-)

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    1. I walk for a couple of kilometres each morning too Janet, but it doesn't seem to be keeping up with my slowing metabolism - I probably need to go further and faster - that's where I'd hoped the elliptical machine would help - jury's still out on that I'm afraid!

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  20. I'm with you Leanne, excercise is so hard!! But I find that if I stick to it, in the long run, it feels good! Thank you for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

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