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Becoming Aware of Low Exercise Motivation

Monday March 12, 2018

One of the most important things I’ve learned about exercise is that it is meant to be an ever-changing game for some of us. I’m one of those people. I did the /r/bodyweightfitness routine for about 6 months, and while it was amazing for the bulk of that time, toward the end it was excruciatingly boring, even the progressions part. Especially the progressions part.

My results indicate that exercise is much more sustainable for me if I progress through a variety of forms of exercise (perhaps increasing in intensity over time as a general attribute) rather than progressing through ever-more-challenging same-exercises.

When I exercise, I usually derive some major benefit. Today’s benefit from exercising, for example, was realizing that there is a huge leverage point in an existing project that will help me reach a goal. I call this exercise-benefit loop an “exercise-benefit loop”.

(Hmm! Well, too lazy to rewrite that sentence.)

The following steps seem to form a positive input to my exercise-benefit loop:

  1. Recognize and name any psychological resistance
  2. Recognize [resistance name or resistance type] as a stressor
  3. Unburden myself of the psychological resistance by attacking the stressor

For example, “I’m not enjoying this at all. I’m totally bored,” is one way to name the resistance. I named the resistance “boredom.” To follow that, I need to recognize that I have a stressor on my hands: Something that creates a problem in my exercise-benefit loop. I need to solve the problem. With the stressor named, I ask myself: What can I do about it? And this is where it gets a bit more interesting.

My subconscious is usually way ahead of me by this point. In many cases it seems to know what I need sooner than I do. So I like to ask my intuition (the INTJ’s dominant gift, so to speak) what I should do about it. I engage this process by doing things like visualizing myself doing some fun exercise, and accepting whatever I see myself doing. Or imagining that an exercise coach walked through my door, and listening to his advice.

But let’s say it’s raining right now (which it is) and I see myself jumping on a trampoline (which is now wet). OK, I accept that my subconscious seems to jump right to that, and it really does seem like what I need, in some intuitive way. Let’s fold in some analysis (introverted thinking) and ask: How can I get that activity to be where I’m at right now? I don’t want to get all wet as I don’t have time to change clothes.

In my case I decide: I’ll put on some upbeat music and jump around in my office here. Maybe I’ll dance, do some jumping jacks. Maybe I’ll do some somersaults on the floor.

Well, I just tried that (key point: You have to try the thing!) and I’m sitting here sweating. When I was done, I opened my office door, and the cool, humid air just poured in. Perfect.

As an INTJ, I’m accountable to my intuition, and things work much better if we cooperate. However, you never know when a problem in the exercise-benefit loop will appear, and when that occurs it’s crucial to accept it, name it, and consciously attack it.

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