Exercising When Your Brain is Telling you “No”

Orthopaedic & Spine Center
Getting Fit!

“Make no mistake about it. Comfort zones are entirely imaginary. Like an emotional plaster cast for leg that’s not broken.” – from The Brave Athlete by Simon Marshal, PhD and Lesley Paterson

I love summer – sunshine, flip flops, sand between my toes, afternoon thunderstorms, lightning bugs at dusk. Summer is my jam. The heat genuinely soothes and feeds my soul. I feel melancholy when the days begin to shorten and that slight crispness arrives in the air. I’m never ready for it.

I spent the last several months going on my run in the morning before sunrise. I wore shorts, tank tops, and needed bug spray to keep the mosquitoes at bay. It was so hot outside that sometimes it took me a couple of hours to completely cool down, even after I showered and headed off to work. To me, sweating equals hard work.

And now it’s officially winter. Somehow, here in Hampton Roads, Virginia, we skipped the “transition” to cooler weather, and it’s just straight-up cold (Yes, classifying a temperature as cold is surely subjective. Our morning temperature a couple days ago hovering at 38 degrees is not considered cold for someone living in Fairbanks, Alaska). On top of that, my family and I recently vacationed in the Caribbean for a week. We arrived home to 40 degrees. It was a rough re-entry to the real world.

Anyway, I already miss the warm summer and early fall mornings. I’m having a very tough time finding the desire and motivation to put on layers and just get out there.  I’ve talked myself out of running multiple times already over the past couple weeks. It’s catching up to me, though. One of the main reasons I exercise is because it helps me maintain my crazy. I find that when I exercise on a regular basis, I have more patience with my young children. I am less moody. I feel physically better (the cracks and creaks in my hips, knees, and neck magically disappear). I feel emotionally even-keeled. When I don’t exercise, I feel a mental cloud, I get anxious and short-fused. That’s where I am today. I don’t like it  and I’m sure my husband doesn’t either!

There are countless studies and plenty of research that show the benefits of exercise on every system in our bodies. We all rationally know that we should do it. So, what’s the trick to get our bodies to do something when our brains are telling us “NO”? Prepare yourself for a sure fire way trick to get out there and exercise.

I learned this from one of my college roommates who was a runner (who coincidentally became an Iron Man athlete, so she was clearly onto something. In college I ran a total of probably 4 times. One of those times was with her, as I sported my Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. It was the mid-1990s, not the 1960s, so I definitely should have been more informed about proper running footwear).

ANYWAY, here it is…

Drum roll, please….

Put on your workout clothes. When you’re on the fence about working out, just take your clothes out and put them on. Once you’re wearing your gear, you will likely think, “Well, I’m already dressed for the party, so I may as well go!” Very rarely has someone regretted a work out, but quite regularly we regret NOT working out. If you are exercising first thing in the morning, sleep in your workout clothes.

The technique works, I promise. It is so simple that it’s almost silly.

Let us know if you try it. I will keep you posted on my trials and tribulations with the cold weather!