Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How To Make Exercize More Fun

So I'm reading this book, and I'll just be upfront with you and say that it's not a fitness book. It is a work book. As in, the place you go work 9-5 and make money.

It's called The Game of Work, and the premise of it is basically this:

People will pay money for the privilege of working harder than they'll work if you're paying them.

You know what he's talking about--it's the way the same guy who grumbles about getting up at 7am for his 9 to 5 job, and about his 45 minute commute will get up at 4 am to drive 2 hours to go skiing in the freezing cold or flyfish in frigid waters.

So if we can make work more like a game, then it should make work both more motivating and more enjoyable.

One of the main things he talks about is how in these types of recreation, there's usually some kind of goal. Whether it's to win the game, catch a fish, improve your score over last time, or something else, there's usually something you're going for that's pushing you to give that extra effort.

I posted a list of all the qualities he feels that goals should have at work in order to make it feel more like play on my new blog, How To Manage People.

But it got me thinking--I think that, recreationally speaking, exercise is probably the one thing we do that feels the most like work. That's probably why we're often as reluctant to do it as we are to go to jobs we hate.

So I thought, why not incorporate some of the ideas Coonradt had about making work more enjoyable through goals, and adapt them into daily exercise?

So here is Erik's list of ways to make exercise more like a game, very loosely adapted from Chuck Coonradt.

1. Really make it a game. What sport did you used to like to play? Or what game have you been interested in, but never tried? Why not do that for exercise?

Often people say, "I know I need to exercise more, but I just hate to go on the treadmill." I think that's because you're sane. The treadmill is like that scene in the bad dream where you're running and running and not getting anywhere. If an exercise is literally something out of your nightmares, you're not going to get excited about it.

So think about what activities, if any, you do get excited about, whether you've done it before or not.

2. State your goals in positive terms. This one is straight out of Coonradt, and I like it.

Goals should be something you think about all the time, that you focus on. What happens if you state your goals in negative terms?

When we state the goal in terms of something we're trying to get rid of, it means when we think about our goals, we're focusing on the things we don't like all the time.

No basketball coach worth his title tells his team, "Go out there and don't miss baskets." The coach doesn't even want to put the picture of missing baskets into their minds. Instead, he'll talk about making baskets. He'll even have his players visualize themselves making baskets.

Similarly, if we make a goal like, "I'm not going to eat fast food," then as we think about the goal, we find ourselves thinking about fast food all the time.

Or if we say, "I don't want to be so heavy any more," we're still thinking about how much we weigh.

Instead, we can find a way to say the same things in positive terms. "I eat perfect portions of healthy, delicious foods." "I am achieving a healthier body."

Those are much nicer things to think about all they, aren't they?

3. Track stuff. The more stuff you track, the more things you have to me motivated by.

Didn't lose as many pounds as you wanted this week? You can look at the inches on your waistline.

Didn't lose as many inches as you'd have liked on your waistline? You can look at how you managed to go a full minute at level 6 on the treadmill today instead of just for 30 seconds.

Didn't go the full minute? Well, maybe you hit 1.4 miles in 15 minutes instead of 1.2.

You don't have to look like the football coach with a big huge clipboard--just a small, pocket sized spiral bound notepad is perfect.

4. Challenge yourself. It's 6am, and you're under your nice, warm covers, trying to decide whether to hit the snooze button again. If all you're doing is getting up to exercise, those covers might just hold you in.

But if you know that the last time you exercised, you came up just 15 seconds shy of getting around the block in less than 20 minutes, and you think today just might be the day you hit that mark--well, that just might make the difference.

And if it isn't enough--well, what goal would matter enough to you that it would get you out of bed? Work on that goal instead.

5. Always keep at least one goal close. Yeah, you've got that goal weight, but that's probably a good three to six months off, right? What is it you're going to see this week?

The closer the goal can be to your heart and to reality, the more it will motivate you today.

It's the thing you think you might be able to do by Friday that will get you out of bed on Monday. It might be figuring out that little quick step on your Dance Away The Pounds video that you've been stumbling over, or it might be cutting 30 seconds off the time it takes you to walk a mile.

Whatever it is, try to make it matter, and try to make it achievable.


Even if all of these don't work for you, I hope at least a couple of them help. And even if you're not sure about a couple, find a way to incorporate them, and see if they don't make a difference.

1 comment:

theFrog said...

For me it's the Biggest Loser - but the regular one, I don't like the specials... and not because of the vote-offs. You said exactly why the Biggest Loser works for me: SEEING people working their butts off.

I like seeing someone week after week, going through and taking the steps to get healthy. The one-off episode isn't enough for me. Seeing their ever-changing progress as each week goes by is what I like. I could do without the drama, the votes, the stragegizing, etc... but I don't watch for that.

I don't like "I Lost It" at all... it's a boring show to me. The clinic one exasperates me - precisely for the same reason your wife finds it motivating.

Anyway, that's my take on it. :)