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by Tony Gjokaj February 09, 2022 6 min read

Do you HATE exercise?

I used to when I started my fitness journey.

The thought of me running or lifting weights made me shudder.

Especially more so when dealing with depression and anxiety, where everything just feels so much worse.

But consistent exercise in small spurts made me find that there was a hormetic response to it.

This meant that over time, this pain began to feel more pleasurable.

And as time progressed, I was hooked.

Exercise Can Feel Like A Chore… At First.

To some, exercise is a chore.

We no longer live in a society where we had to be active to get paid or to survive tribes or dangerous animals in the wilderness.

So we need to go out of our way to make it a part of our lifestyle.

This makes it fairly difficult to get to because it’s correlated to more pain and more stress at first — who wants to take time out of their day to work out when they could be doing other things.

But we don’t think about how living more actively can save our lives.

Living more sedentary is correlated to elevated levels of stress, elevated levels of anxiety, depression, cardiac health problems, and more.

Before one of my clients started training with me, she HATED working out.

It was too painful — and mainly because her past trainers destroyed her with like supersets and stuff.

The hilarious thought that came to mind was that these trainers were like:
“You are going to OBLITERATE your arms with a Rich Piana (RIP) 8-Hour Arm Workout and you are going to LIKE IT.”

So with myself and my client, we strategized together on how we were going to make exercise more enjoyable… to feel less like a chore…

And here’s how we did it.

You can watch our video above, or read the post below.

I. Movement First, Structured Programs Later.

The first thing I always preach is focusing on the movement over everything.

Movement first, then a structured program after.

One of the things I like to do in the gym is helping people start with machine work and bodyweight exercises first.

Then, we add dumbbells and barbells later.

If someone works out at home with minimal equipment, we start with bodyweight exercises or circuit training, as it is fairly easy to adhere to.

Once we build a foundation and build habits around exercise, you can then pursue other forms of exercise to find what you love.

For some, it’s cardio: long-distance running, sprints, etc.

For others, it’s weightlifting: powerlifting, strongman, etc.

For others, it’s martial arts.

You’ll eventually find a style of exercise that you find BEARABLE, or at least makes you feel more amazing than others. ;)

II. Focus On Your Mood After The Workout.

Some of us want to see immediate changes to our body after a workout session.

But it may take months to even see progress!

Instead, I recommend prioritizing how you FEEL after the workout.

How do you feel after your workout session?

Do you feel better? Chase that!

The body will follow through consistency overtime.

The reason why some of us don’t get the body we want is that we don’t see progress within a certain period of time that we define as “enough time”.
When I started, It took me 3 months to even see one pound of weight loss. However, exercise being my stress reducer, mood booster, and sleep improver definitely made it more bearable of a wait.

III. Don’t Just Have Outcome Goals — Develop Processes To Get There.

As a Precision Nutrition certified coach, one of the things I really love about their course is that they educate us on their framework.

We all have the top of the pyramid: The Goals we want to accomplish.

But what kind of Skills do we need to achieve our goals?

After we have those skills written down, what kind of Practicesdo we need to implement have to develop those skills?

After we have those processes, what kind of Daily Actions do we need to implement to develop these practices?

Follow the framework:

  1. Accomplish the Daily Actions we need to build the practices necessary to develop the skills that will help us reach our goals. This can be getting 3–5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This can be drinking 8 cups of water per day.
  2. Develop the Practices necessary to develop the skills that help you reach your goals. This can be setting a consistent workout schedule.
  3. Build the Skills necessary to accomplish our goals. This can be learning more about proper nutrition or improving your sleep hygiene (quality and quantity of sleep).
  4. Accomplishing our Goals.

Do this.

It’s easier for you to stay motivated and excited about exercise when you have clarity on how to reach your goals.
Chase that CLARITY.

IV. Monitor Progress Beyond The Scale.

With the scale, your weight will fluctuate based on a variety of things: stress levels (stress can be the severity of calorie restriction, life stressors), if you had more sodium than typical, if you’re on your period, and more.

You must also understand that if you start to exercise, your body may build more lean muscle.This means you may not see weight loss on the scale because you’re building muscle.

So STOP investing so much of your progress on a scale number.

That will stress you out so much and make you think you aren’t seeing any changes.

When it comes to your weight on a scale, sometimes it stalls for a few weeks… and then you notice a drop of weight on some random day.

One of my clients kept checking the scale constantly when we were training with each other.
When I told her to monitor some of the things I mentioned below, she stopped focusing on the scale.
Weeks later, the scale said she lost 8lbs — but she noticed it in her progress photos before then.

With that being said, here are some things you can monitor beyond the scale:

  • Monitor your mood not only after your workout but throughout the day. Give yourself your own happiness scale (from 1–10). My mental health improved dramatically when I introduced exercise to my life.
  • Monitor your workout progress.If you get better at a specific exercise or a certain weight gets easier, THAT is progress. Embrace it.
  • Monitor your sleep. Are you getting more uninterrupted sleep, or are you sleeping A LOT better? With exercise, my sleep insomnia went away. Research has shown this to be one way to help with sleep insomnia.
  • Monitor your choice or preferences in food.Those who exercise frequently tend to habitually eat better. It might be because you prefer to do so psychologically, or your gut is telling you to eat these things to rebuild.
  • PROGRESS PHOTOS. THIS is the BEST indicator of progress. Take front and back photos every 2–4 weeks. These will start to be noticeable after your first month or so of consistent exercise.

To reiterate on progress photos — if you look better and weigh the same, the weight on the scale doesn’t matter, does it?

Monitor these.


V. Accountability Partners Or Groups.

This is one of the more important ones.

Accountability Partners are ESSENTIAL to your goals.

On my weight loss journey, I had a personal trainer in the past that didn’t challenge me or care for my goals.
I didn’t see progress with him.
My second personal trainer was tougher on me, and told me he would add more exercises to my routine if I gave him attitude (I was a teen at the time) or I would complain.
He promised that, and he fulfilled his promises when I complained or gave him attitude.
I saw progress with him and it changed my life and my mental health for the better.

You need someone to support your goals and cheer you on.

Your accountability partners can be a GREAT Personal Trainer, your Online Coach, your Friend Group, a specific Facebook Group, or even a Discord Group like the one we have here.

If you have a group you’re in, it’s important to be active with that group: to document your journey and support others on their journey as well.

They will support you in return.

It Doesn’t Have To Suck.

Now you know — exercise doesn’t have to suck.

And it may feel like a chore now, but watch what happens when it becomes a part of your lifestyle.

You will always see how much more you can push yourself and your limits.

How much stronger, more limber, or faster you become.

You will feel better.

Many say you can find meaning in struggle.

And exercise definitely makes you struggle.

And even if exercise brings about a little meaning in your life… it’s SOMETHING.

Chase that.

Until next time!

PS: If you need an extra kick in the ass on your fitness and mental health journey, you can grab our 3 Hacks That Boost Mood Fitness Startup Guide. You can get it by signing up to our mental health email list here!

Check Out Our Fitness For Mental Health YouTube Channel!

Exercise For Depression Discord Accountability Group

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.

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