The Internet Debates… Is It Really Exercise That’s Hard or Is The Struggle Actually With Self-Motivation?

For most of us, there’s a gap between wanting to exercise and be healthier and actually getting off our lazy bums and making it happen. We want to live long lives, but exercise just isn’t, you know. Fun.

This guy suggests that it’s not the exercise that’s actually the issue, it’s just that being active goes against human nature (currently), and it’s the ability to self-motivate that’s actually stopping us from going for that run, to the gym, or turning on that workout video.

Exercise isn’t actually that hard. Self motivation is.

My brain tells me it’s sooo hard and sooo much work and will come up with every excuse(I ate too much, tired, etc)

But once I go for a run or workout, it was never that bad. (And if it was, only in the moment)

I saw on r/running someone said running was good practice for doing other things you don’t want to do in life.

You get motivation from starting/doing. The toughest part is shutting your brain up and taking action. Once you’re dressed and at the gym, are you really going to turn around and go back home?

People do not want to be lazy. It’s not that they can’t workout, the brain is lazy and takes as many shortcuts as it can. Exercise is as hard as you want it to be, tricking the brain is the challenge.

He also thinks that, if we can make ourselves do it anyway, it’s good training for life in general – because we all know that as adults, we have to do a lot of things we don’t really want to do.

Here are what 13 Redditors had to say about this “unpopular opinion.”

13. Convenience is a key.

Pre-covid I lived on my university campus and the gym was on the same block as my housing. I was consistent for the first time in my life.

It’s evidence that the convenience makes a huge difference to me.

12. There are tricks to make it easier.

The hardest part of my workout is getting dressed and driving to the gym. No joke. I had the same problem as you where I would dread going to the gym but once I arrived I had a pretty good time, so I didn’t understand why I hated going.

What helped me a lot was I started brining my gym clothes in a bag to work and would go straight there afterwards. I noticed if I went home first to change, I would get too comfy and wouldn’t go. Once you get there, it’s easy.

11. Once the results start rolling in, it’s easier.

You motivate yourself by force but what breaks most is not seeing results. You might see a tiny bit after a week but then nothing at all for weeks and its what causing people to give up.

Results take time and nothing can motivate you as much as seeing them.

Especially weight loss.

10. I think this is a common feeling!

I always say the hardest part of going to the gym is Going. To. The. Gym.

Once you walk in the door it’s easy peasy!

9. Easier said than done.

That’s because most people get into gym with the wrong results based mentality.

You should aim for changing your identity rather than simply chasing the results. For example, you should set a goal like “I wanna be a person who never skips gym, who loves working out” and work on that instead of focusing on results.

This way it’s easier to trick your brain, because with identity change (who you are as a person rather than what you want) you will stick to the desired behaviour regardless of the results.

I suggest reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.

That book is probably the best I’ve seen on the topic.

8. Just make it a routine.

If it’s a daily or even weekly routine it becomes much, much easier.

7. Find something your brain actually likes.

Exercise doesn’t have to be running or going to the gym. There are pickup leagues/beer league sports games. There’s always hiking. Or just taking a walk or bike ride around the park. Or at-home exercises. Or swimming.

The goal is to find the exercise you like doing and committing to it. Or even change it up on the regular if you get bored of one thing

6. Never go home first.

My friends are convinced they’d have no energy to go after a whole day of work but I’m like do you really think you’d want to go after you’ve gone home and eaten? Fat chance. The second you walk in the door you’ll be ready to go.

That or go before work.

5. That ol’ brain doesn’t always have to win.

Well once you start getting into it you won’t hate it.

Your brain will still try to be lazy and think up excuses but you won’t actually hate it, it’ll actually be something you like and look forward to overall.

4. Baby steps sometimes work.

Force yourself to at least go do a short workout.

Soon you will find you will find yourself being there for a longer time and also prepare a bit more.

It’s good having a banana or other energy source with you to help you get through it.

3. Give your brain an incentive.

I love the way I feel afterwards, that’s why I do it.

I also think I must have some health issues because I’ve been lifting heavier and heavier weights for years in the past and never really got any bigger despite proper diet. Just stronger.

2. Joining a gym in and of itself can help motivate.

Kind of same, I don’t necessarily like getting there, but once I am I almost don’t wanna stop. Would do the same after work workout, which almost always works, sometimes my brain manages to trick me out of going (usually just go the next day instead then).

What was been hard for me now is when gyms are closed. Starting a workout at home can be really hard. Made a rule to do a short run every day, and often when I’m running I find myself doing a longer route than planned.

What can be hard is continuing after a break, the first time after a week or two is always really hard but once you get the routine going if becomes a bit easier.

1. Play the long game.

I started to workout several times in my life, entirely focused on weight loss. Never managed to stick with it out of frustration and a lack of progress. Last year, I gave it another try, but with a different approach. “Fuck the scale”. I started to workout with the intention to get fitter and feel better. I have changed nothing else (still not eating the most healthy diet). However, with the continuous training, my body began to change. Muscles replaced fat, everything got more defined, and I now look slimmer than before.

Just out of curiosity, I stepped on the scale, and surprise – I only lost like 2kg, but lost 1-2 sizes. The worst part is the beginning. That’s where you need to motivate yourself every damn time. But once you’re over that, it actually makes fun. And that’s coming from the laziest pile of shit you can imagine. I never thought I’d ever say something like this x)

What if – and hear me out – both things were hard?

That’s just a deadly combination there.

Tell us what your thoughts are on exercise and motivation down in the comments!