Saturday, July 17, 2010


Using hatred as a motivator

I hate physical exercise. Genuinely hate it. I know hate is a strong word. But it’s not strong enough for my feelings towards exercise.

So why, I hear you cry, are you doing this? To be honest, I don’t know. Obviously I want to be healthy, and I really don’t think I am at all.

But why now?

The only way to lose weight is to eat healthily and to exercise. This is not a new revelation, and regardless of the fad, if you boil any weight loss program down to its bare essentials, this is what it means. For someone like me, who is quite large, and quite unfit, this means I need to do both of these things to an extreme level. I realised a little while ago that what this means is that for me to get healthy I need to do something that I hate.

Every day.

I am reminded of this scene from Office Space:

Other people thrive on exercise. They love it. A friend from work recently injured himself and the worst part about it, for him, was that he couldn’t go for his regular run. He was getting antsy. He needed to get out there and run. To him it was like chocolate, and to take it away was stressing him to the point where he was having difficulty concentrating. I look at people like this and, when I’m feeling particularly negative, I think “either there is something wrong with them, or something wrong with me.” Other times, of course, I accept that there are differences in people, but that’s not as fun.

So I know it is possible to like exercise. And so perhaps the answer is to change my mindset and enjoy it. Perhaps. But I really don’t think that’s possible. It’s called a mindset because it is just that: set. (Note: that I have no idea if that’s the “set” that is used, and according to QI, “set” is the word with the most definitions in the dictionary). So if I can’t change my attitude, then I am back to the Office Space mentality of hating every single one of my days. Which is not a good way to live.

Having said that, I have found a curious enjoyment in the negativity I have displayed towards this whole process. I signed up for this program almost casually. I thought and thought about it a lot, and then one day cleared my mind and just signed up. So I have resigned myself to the full 12 weeks, and I am dreading every one, but having done it, I find I am taking some kind of pleasure in actually testing how much I really do hate it. And I actually think my genuine and heartfelt hatred of it is, in some way, motivating me more than any artificial positive attitude could do.

The downside of this is that my negativity is never internal. I am talking to friends at work (some of whom are also participating and who are no doubt motivating themselves in much more traditional and positive ways) and being, basically, a real prick about it all. So today, one colleague suggested that I blog to get my negativity into a space and also to provide an extra layer of motivation. If I get nothing else out of an exercise session I will at least get something to write about.

So here it is. A blog of loathsome motivation.


  1. I try to avoid posting comments on blogs that start with "I", as responding to a blogger's recounted personal experience with your own anecdote is at best self-indulgent and at worst nauseatingly self-indulgent.
    Still, you asked for people's (or peoples'? ... I've never been sure) experiences, so here we are. My apologies.
    Kate and I have begun going to gym regularly, starting (coincidentally) about 12 weeks ago. So you could imagine that I'm speaking to you from your own future. If you like.
    I don't hate exercise as much as you do, but I haven't done anything resembling regular exercise in years and the first few sessions were incredibly hard. Out of the first four sessions I vomited three times.
    But it got better. And simple repetition means I'm getting better at it. Which means I'm enjoying it more and more each time I go.
    Last week I had a day where I wasn't really feeling up to it, and didn't put in a huge heap of effort, and still managed to complete a session that would have have had me curled up trembling in the corner three months beforehand.
    It helps in lots of other suprising ways, too. I'm thinking more clearly. I'm not getting tired in the afternoons at work. My diet has improved simply because having fish and chips now feels like pissing all that time on the treadmill up against the wall. And that just wouldn't be right.
    So yeah, it sucks right now. But it's worth it.

  2. Hey Matt (and hello future self).
    Thanks for the commenting. I still don't see how anyone's individual comment can be any more self indulgent that the fact I have a blog, so you just go right ahead and start every sentence with I.
    I'll have a bit to say about some of what you've said over the next couple of posts covering my first week.
    Right now I can't see myself ever enjoying it, even if I get good at it. That may simply be a problem with my prediction abilities, but the other thing it it's a mindset I don't want to have. Same with the fish and chips one. I like fish and chips. I don't want to not like fish and chips.

    Oh and it's people's (cos people is already a plural, so you're just putting a possessive on it).

  3. You sound like Oscar the Grouch.

  4. Can't you just use the SWL Program? That's the Secret's Wieght Loss Program?

    If you wish hard enough, you'll lose all the weight you want.

    If you don't - then you obviously didn't want it enough.

    I'm wishing for a unicorn....