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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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How I Stopped Hating Exercise

March 4, 2013 15 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

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Growing up, my greatest athletic accomplishment was managing to not get injured by any of the basketballs that flew off the court and towards the bench – the one I was dutifully warming. I was the kid who begged my mom to let me bring Virginia Woolf to the volleyball game that I was supposed to be playing. The kid who would rather be tortured slowly by geometry than run a mile.

I was not an athlete, to say the least.

I remember when I told my family I was running my first half marathon. Running? They looked skeptical. From what? 

Just because I enjoy it.

Enjoy it? Is something wrong? Then came the hand on my forehead, the head shakes, and the worried looks. Honey, I think you might be ill. 

Amazingly enough, I had come to love exercise. Today, I treasure the moments I can get outside and feel the cool breeze on my cheeks on a run. My body feels alive and invigorated when I stretch my arms out long to swim. I feel centered and calm when I hold my body in a yoga pose. Movement awakens my spirit.

But like I said, it wasn’t always this way. And I want to share with you just how I stopped hating exercise.

1. I ignored those that linked exercise and weight loss. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s minimal evidence that exercise actually leads to weight loss. While this news comes as a major disappointment to those that slave away on the treadmill in hopes of a smaller figure, it’s actually really freeing news. It means you can step off that monotonous treadmill and start doing something you actually have a chance of enjoying.

2. I stopped doing it mindlessly. When exercise is associated with struggle and pain, of course we want to disconnect from the experience. Who wants to hurt? Like most people, I was initially addicted to Bravo and my iPod during exercise and couldn’t fathom doing without distraction. It was only once I gave mindful exercise a chance that I realized just how… dare I say it? … good movement could feel.

3. I started practicing yoga. Some of you might remember when I took my first real yoga class (Spoiler: It was unpleasant!). Since then, however, I’ve become a total convert. Yoga (and other eastern pratices like Tai Chi) has a way of transforming the way that you view your body and your experience in it. You won’t look at movement the same way again.

4. I ditched competition – with others or myself. Humans, particular ones in western society, tend to run on the obsessed side when it comes to competition. From road races to CrossFit competitions to pie eating contests, we can’t seem to get enough of beating the heck out of each other. For me, competition takes the focus off of myself and my own experience and moves it outside – something that diminishes the experience for me. When I start to worry about being faster or stronger than someone else, I immediately enjoy what I’m doing less.

5. I stopped the same thing all the darn time. It’s easy to fall into a rut when movement means doing the same activity again and again. I couldn’t get myself out of bed if it meant running for the fifth day in a row. But when I have some variety to look forward to, I anticipate my exercise time with excitement.

6. I started savoring the time alone. I spend a lot of time talking with people. It’s sort of part of the job. So I like being alone and quiet while exercising. It’s one way that I can decompress and look inward. I especially love the early mornings.

Do you enjoy exercise? Have you always? What’s your favorite part? 

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13 Comments

  1. becky
    2 years ago

    I love this and could relate to so many! It has me wanting to get back into the yoga class that have missed for a while with training for a marathon. As a blind runner, it is not alone time I run with friends that are my guides. Amazing experience. I also will be sharing your beautiful blog with a client this morning. Thank you!
    becky recently posted..Dancing in Reflection

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  2. Donna
    2 years ago

    Thank you for this…I used to love running…but ostereoporis…tibia fractures…and anorexia thwarted this activity. I deeply miss it…and I agree…early mornings used to be quite special. I hope to give yoga another try…I unfortunately found it extremely boring and a tad too “touchy-feely” in general aspect (sorry!)..but I hope to find something that can get me passionate about body movement..without further damage! I am considering dance again…perhaps adult classical dance, folk dancing…even clogging. Wonderful post.

    PlS. For present…I love long walks in the country by our home…and gardening ..if that even “counts”!

    Reply

  3. Bek @ Crave
    2 years ago

    I LOVE exercise! I am a group fitness instructor and absolutely love group fitness- especially Les Mills. Lately I’ve taken up weight training and I really enjoy it. It’s changed my mindset- from quick burn lots of calories to omg I’m strong, this is what my body is capable of.
    Bek @ Crave recently posted..When A Risk Pays Off

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  4. Tora
    2 years ago

    I really like your phrase “movement awakens my spirit” – I totally agree with that statement!

    I love exercise because it makes me feel strong and powerful in other areas of my life. I actually used running to help me overcome Anorexia… that may sound really odd, but it gave me a purpose to get healthy and eat for a reason beyond having to put weight back on.

    I remember saying to a friend once that when I am exercising I feel most at home, most connected to myself, most confident in my own skin. That’s how I got to love exercise for all the right reasons :)
    Tora recently posted..How To Stop Mindless Eating

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  5. PTC
    2 years ago

    Really…how is it possible that exercise does not result in weightloss? I’m not saying that if you exercise, you will lose weight, but if you look at people who are overweight and they go from doing no physical activity to just moving around a bit, they lose weight. Obviously, eating has a major roll in that as well. It’s simple math, calories in vs calories out. If I eat fewer calories than I am burning, I will lose weight.

    Anyway, I am also a fitness instructor. Do I always want to work out, nope. Do I force myself to work out? Yep. Why, because I have to. I live in NYC and walk everywhere, but I still force myself to work out, even if my legs are shot. I woke up Saturday morning and didn’t want to work out, but I thought, “I didn’t work out yesterday. I walked 7 miles but that doesn’t count.” Hmm. I definitely work out much less than I use to and am much less obsessive about it, which is good.
    PTC recently posted..Want to cave

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  6. Ruby Facy
    2 years ago

    This is perfect! Mostly people don’t have “time” to exercise or just to lazy to do some. They didn’t know what are the consequences of it. Thanks much for sharing this wonderful post. :)
    Ruby Facy recently posted..Welcome to Morocco! It is a nice way to welcome guests in…

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  7. Helen
    2 years ago

    I totally agree with the exercise does not lead to weight loss argument. If it does it’s because there has been a corresponding evaluation of what the person is eating (which they may do themselves without realising it).

    I am so glad you found exercise which suited you I often say to people who say they hate exercise they just haven’t found the one for them yet, there are so many variations.
    Helen recently posted..Sleep.

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  8. Lisa Trenton
    2 years ago

    Ashley not only is your post inspiring, it really had me laughing out loud for real. I love how you put that your family was like, “running from what?” It was also good to see that you’re very honest about your experiences, like your first with Yoga and how it was unpleasant. Everyone can make the transition as you learn to better yourself. Full of inspiration and powerful tips!
    Lisa Trenton recently posted..Yoga Instructor Salary By State

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  9. Alex
    2 years ago

    I have experienced to stop my exercises… I really had a hard time getting back to it again.
    Alex recently posted..Apple’s Future Release

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  10. Lorna Balfour
    1 year ago

    What an amazing transformation, well done. I also was brought up in a family that didnt get exercise, so you feel a bit like you are from a different planet. That feels tough. The down time is also something I get, time for solitude and time out….. :)

    Reply

  11. Lorna Balfour
    1 year ago

    What a great transformation. I get it. I was also brought up in a family that didnt get exercise, you feel like from a different planet. Downtime in the gym to relax I get too. Take care.

    Reply

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    [...] great read- how this amazing lady Stopped Hating Exercise and started loving it (like the rest of us crazy [...]

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