Do you see Exercise as Punishment?

We see it all the time. Someone posts about their workout and how tough it was, and in the next sentence, they are headed off for their “reward.” The reward being a well-deserved beer, glass of wine or maybe ice cream or a juicy cheeseburger.

I think we all do that from time to time when we endure something challenging, be it mentally or physically. A long exam at college and we are going to unwind afterward with a happy hour. Go to the doctor for a “painful” shot and we get a lollipop. Well, I might still ask for that lollipop at 46 years old! And, I’m not saying rewards are the enemy nor should they be completely abandoned.

I laugh about my lollipop requests because somewhere in the introspective journey of getting my health back, I realized that I was super guilty of the punishment vs reward system. And I began to question why I thought that way.

While growing up, our parents used that system to get us to complete tasks, chores, homework etc… It didn’t take long to figure out if I do what they ask, something good is going to happen and if I don’t…well I am shit out of luck. I was 5.

Fast-forward to adulthood and now we do it to ourselves. “I hate working out.” Well, I don’t but I used to dread long, boring training sessions. And, I was exactly of the mindset that if I could get through it, just reward myself afterward with something well-deserved. Like a carrot on a stick…but in my case, it was more like a chocolate bar. Then, I looked in the mirror and saw NOTHING was happening. What the heck?! I work so hard and yet, Im still FAT!!! WHY???????

I knew it must of been something more..I must have a thyroid issue or some other hormonal deficit that was preventing me from my well-earned six pack!!! NOPE! It was ME!! I was preventing myself from the results I so desired.

I was rewarding myself with all kinds of crap day after day.

So, how was I going to deal with this mess? How do I change that?

The first thing was to recognize it and be honest with myself. I could no longer lie to myself that it was something other than me that was keeping me from my goals.

Then, the mindset shift. I began to look at workouts as the REWARD. How? The little things. I remembered walking down the street for the first time with my Mom after a life-threatening ordeal, I was too weak to make it to the corner. I recalled how much I just wanted to feel better and be able to walk with her and not have pain anymore.

I drew a positive source of energy from that when I finally was able to walk down the street. Think back to a time where maybe you were very sick and you just wanted to feel better. Well, when I was better, I used that energy to put into the workout to see just how far I could go. In the beginning, it was not very far..but little by little, day by day, I kept going. It felt a lot like a video game and I had to get to the next level. Some days I was the bug and others, I was the windshield. But I kept plugging because I did not want to go back to that weak, terrible feeling again. I kept marching forward.

The thing about exercise is that we take it for granted when we can do it, but when we are unable to even walk to the mailbox, then we wish we had it.

The Reward IS the ability to exercise even if you are in a walker! Don’t Punish yourself by avoiding it. Believe that there ARE FUN ways to become fit. Just come hang out with me sometime!

3 Responses to “Do you see Exercise as Punishment?”

  1. Amy


  2. Mark

    I remember doing 1/4 mile of lunges. That was pretty close to punishment.

  3. Gail

    I see it as my reward especially after a long week of travel. I count the days when I can make my workout (yes, maybe I am weird but I do!). … If I could I would be working out at the gym every day scaring AL… LOL… and yes, I still look in the mirror and said what the heck happened but I figure I have every meal, one by one, to get it right and as long as I keep trying … I’m good.