How I Tricked Myself Into Loving My Workout

How I Tricked Myself Into Loving My Workout

I used to hate my workouts. Sure, I did them, but I was frustrated, grumbling and upset the entire time. I dreaded going to the gym and did almost anything I could think of to get out of it. At the slightest hint of a cold, I was so relieved to have a good excuse not to work out that I milked it for all I could. Then, something changed.

Picture: Anna Kucherova/Shutterstock, Serghei Starus/Shutterstock

I actually started to enjoy my workouts. Sure, I’d like to say it had something to do with the endorphins (and maybe it did), but here’s the thing that has completely changed my attitude about working out: I’ve combined working out with something I really love to doread novels.

At first, reading while working out was just a half-baked attempt to be able to stay on the elliptical for half an hour without going completely insane, but then something shifted. I decided that since my life is so incredibly busy and I love to read novels, I would only allow myself to read novels while working out. I can’t overstate what a difference this simple rule has made for me.

Now I Love to Work Out

I can’t wait to get to the gym. I seriously try to figure out ways to get there, even on days that are not my usual workout days, and it has nothing to do with endorphins. It has everything to do with the fact that I can’t wait to find out what happens next in the awesome novel I’m reading.

OK, so maybe you’re not as freakishly bookish as I am, but is there something you absolutely love that you can somehow tie to your workout? Your favourite podcast perhaps? A bite of chocolate as you finish up? Playboy magazine? I don’t care what it is, but when you connect something you dislike with something you absolutely love, you’re bound to start enjoying your work out more, and when you limit the time you’re “allowed” to spend on that beloved endeavour to ONLY during workouts, you’ve got the added motivation you’ll need to turn “meh” into “yeah!” Want a few more minutes to wrap up that awesome podcast? Then I guess you’ll be staying on the bike a bit longer today, won’t you?

It’s a Win-Win

First, it helped me enjoy my workout time far more than I thought was possible, but it also helped me prioritise and recognise that reading novels in my free time was actually cutting into my overall productivity. Now, instead of being hijacked by a really great read, losing sleep, and ignoring my other responsibilities, I simply put the really great book down and know that I’ll get to discover the next chapter during my next workout. Since I enjoy working out so much more, my trips to the gym are happening more frequently and more regularly, so I know I won’t have to wait too long between chapters.

The added benefit of increasing my motivation to get to the gym should be obvious, but in case you’re lost: I’m now in far better shape, I have more energy, and I’m generally happier than I was before I worked out regularly.

What Will it Be for You?

Find something you enjoy so much that it sometimes distracts you from your priorities in life, and then couple it with your exercise routine for at least three weeks. After that, I hope you’ll report back and let me know if it works for you too! I sure hope you can get the same amazing results I have. OK, I’m off to the gym! I just have to find out how this book ends.

How to Trick Yourself Into Loving Your Workout [Lifehack]

Shelly Birger Phillips is passionate about being the best human she can possibly be and supporting others to do the same. She has helped hundreds of clients overcome personal challenges and develop the skills to live happier, more authentic lives. You can find her conscious parenting blog here, and Her Authentic World team here. Follow her on Twitter here, or email her at shelly at


  • Today I was thinking how we kind of associate the burn from a workout with pain, but the more I thought about it I thought it didn’t actually feel bad as such, just kind of intense.

    lets face it actually exercising makes you feel amazing.. So that’s the real hurdle is just getting started and (most importantly for me) not going into it thinking its going to suck.

  • Maybe you could consider finding an intense, short workout that you genuinely enjoy instead of half-assing it for an hour on cardio? How hard can you actually be working out if you can read at the same time?

      • Going at 10% will only yield 10% of the results. If you’re fine with that, fantastic.

        Depending on your goals 30 minutes of a low intensity exercise isn’t going to benefit you greatly. If you want results for something (Endurance, Hypertrophy, etc) you’re going to need to up the intensity.

      • I suppose not, but if you never push yourself you’ll never get better at anything. I was suggesting short/intense so that the remaining time could be dedicated to reading, but I really think life is too short to spend doing exercise that you don’t enjoy when there are so many ways to work out that can be fun in their own right.

        • I agree that life is too short to spend doing exercise that you don’t enjoy. I think a lot of people don’t enjoy intense exercise. Less intensive exercise is much more palatable for myself.

          Sure, it may not yield as much benefit, but I personally am happy to do regular low intensive exercise rather than attempt to motivate myself to follow an intensive regiment which i’ll abandon shortly after I commence, if not before hand.

  • How can you possibly consider yourself “freakishly bookish” if you would even consider limiting your reading to a couple of hours a day?

    • That’s the point.. they limit themselves to only reading on the elliptical/treadmill so then they actually can’t wait to go on the machines and once on, they don’t want to get off.

  • I started doing this at my local gym, by loading Game of Thrones on my iPhone and then watching it through the treadmill screen.
    Completely forgot about the adult scenes in it, and just about fell off the treadmill trying to stop the video..

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