I really want to exercise. In theory. I think my reasons are compelling – I know that it’s important for my health and I want to be mobile and fit into old age and be around for my kids. I know that my health isn’t amazing and I need it. I know it’s also good for mental health.
But I am not exercising. I feel so much dread around it. I thought I’d step away from the cycle of dread/willpower/discomfort for a while and just stop telling myself I ‘should’ exercise for a while. But the result I’ve created is to become less and less active.
I know I need to expect not to go and do it anyway. But even if I set myself a micro-goal like a 5 minute walk, I am close to crying thinking about it. I know that it’s irrational.
I’m having a hard time accessing thoughts. It feels almost like a physical response, like the way your body would recoil from a flame. 2 years ago I was running daily. Not tonnes, but 5k or thereabouts. I have a thought that it never got easy. After a year, I still found it hard and almost scary. I was afraid I might vomit or faint or meet someone scary when I was running alone, and I was afraid of the physical exhaustion that never seemed to get easier. I think my brain is connecting a 5 minute walk with all that – 5 minutes walk is the precursor to running. My health feels frail and I’m even afraid of heart-attack or stroke – not moving ‘feels’ safe even though I know intellectually being sedentary isn’t good for me.
At the most basic, I think my model is:
C: Exercise (e.g. run, walk, yoga swim)
T: I don’t want to go / I hate it
A: Stop exercising, do not figure out how to enjoy it
R: Strengthen identity as someone who is not physically strong/capable (-> shame)
I know that in a sense I DO want to go – because I want the long-term result. But that feels sort of tenuous (will it really impact my life expectancy and quality of life) compared with the aversion.
Any ideas where I might go from here? Thank you!