why can’t I put on my shoes?

Even the most avid exerciser has had this experience:

You schedule a time to workout. You get to the time. You look over at your shoes and… ugh. You just can’t.

Even though you know that you’ll feel better if you do it, even if you actually WANT to exercise, something inside you just won’t let you get your butt out of your chair. It’s like you’ve been velcroed to it, or like your butt has turned into a paperweight. You just can’t.

Why does this happen? Why, when we get to that moment of exercising, are we suddenly filled with dread, fatigue, procrastination, and a strong desire to do ANYTHING ELSE?

One strong hypothesis is that it’s because we evolved on a savannah where running was for SURVIVAL, and your body wants to hold on to its energy in case of an emergency. Even diehard runners have that “ugh I don’t want to put on my shoes” feeling sometimes, because it has nothing to do with how exercise makes you feel and everything to do with your body not really being convinced that it won’t be called upon to run from a tiger or hunt a gazelle.

What do you do about it? Here are some ideas.

Knowledge. I think just knowing that this is a phenomenon helps. When you feel that “ugh” feeling, you can say to yourself, “Thank you, body, for letting me know that I’m not currently under attack and I don’t need to hunt for food. That’s awesome! I’m gonna go anyway because I know I’ll feel energized and glad to be there once I start!”

If that doesn’t do it, you can try tricking your body. Get up to do something else – go to the bathroom, pick up a piece of paper, read a bulletin board, anything. And then continue on to put on your shoes, workout clothes, or whatever else you need to do.

And finally, you can make a deal with yourself. “Look, I’ll put on my shoes and go outside/to the gym/wherever, and if I STILL don’t feel like working out, then I’ll _______________ instead.”

Oftentimes once you get there, you decide, “Well I’m here anyway, I might as well do something.”

Make it not exercise time but… “True Blood” time! Or whatever! If you use your exercise time to do something else too, like watch a favorite TV show, spend time with friends you otherwise don’t necessarily see, or shift gears out of academic mode to give your brain a rest, then it’s not so much “it’s time to exercise” as it is “time to do…” whatever else, something that you totally WANT to do!


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