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MAY 30, 2024

Lost in the Noise: Why Too Much Exercise Advice Can Kill Your Motivation


Not all advice is good advice, sometimes it can be too much and can overwhelm. So how do we combat this problem and help people get healthier?

Read time: 12 minutes

We put out a poll on LinkedIn recently, asking people what was the biggest challenge between balancing work life and their fitness journey. And the answers were fascinating:

  • 50% time
  • 25% energy
  • 20% motivation
  • 5% something else

And it was in that 5% that we saw an interesting trend: confusion and overwhelm. That's why we thought we’d take a moment to explore what that means and how it can affect more people than you think. So, let’s learn how do you cut through the noise and find a way to exercise that works for you. Because, it turns out, the key lies in understanding your “why.”

Too Much, Too Close, Too Soon

Picture this: you’ve finally decided to start exercising. You’re excited, motivated, and ready to transform your life. But as soon as you start looking for advice, you’re bombarded with conflicting information. One expert swears by early morning workouts, while another insists late evenings are best. Someone tells you to lift heavy weights, but then you read that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the ultimate fat burner. Should you do yoga, run marathons, or just go for a walk?

Before you know it, you're overwhelmed. Your initial excitement turns into confusion, and your motivation begins to fade away. And, we’ll hold our hands up. We’re guilty of this. In the quest to speak as openly to as many people as possible, it may feel like you don’t know where to start and what’s right for you.

Start with “Why”

Instead of getting weighed down by the “how” and “what” of exercise, try to focus on the “why.” Why do you want to start exercising? What are your goals? Your reasons could be anything from wanting to lose weight, to feeling more energetic, to managing stress, or simply to improve your overall health.

Whatever the reason, understanding your “why” can provide clarity and direction. How? Well, think of it as a compass, guiding you and helping you stay focused on what matters most to you. For example, if your goal is to manage stress, you might find that yoga or walking in nature works better for you than high-intensity workouts. Alternatively, if you want to build muscle, weightlifting might be your go-to.

Setting Goals and Outcomes

Once you have a clear understanding of your “why”, it’s time to set specific, achievable goals. Now, these will obviously be personal to you and your goals will inform the type of exercise that suits you best. For instance, if you’re looking to run a 5K, your exercise routine will be different from someone training for a bodybuilding competition.

Think of it like baking a cake. If you know what kind of cake you want to bake and who it’s for, you can gather the right ingredients and follow the correct recipe. There’s no point in putting all the effort and time into making a three tier ornately decorated masterpiece for a disappointed 3 year old who wanted an Iron Man birthday cake. Similarly, knowing your fitness goals allows you to create a tailored exercise plan that fits your needs and preferences.

Creating Your Roadmap

With your “why” and goals in mind, you can now create a roadmap to guide your fitness journey. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to one type of exercise forever. Make sure you experiment and find what you enjoy. The important thing is to start with a plan that aligns with your goals and then adjust as you learn more about what works for you. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Choose Activities You Enjoy

Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. Find activities that you enjoy and look forward to. This could be anything from dancing to hiking to swimming.

Start Small

Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Start with small, manageable changes. Consistency is key, and it’s better to start small and build up gradually than to burn out quickly.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you’re unsure where to start, consider consulting a fitness professional who can help you design a personalized plan based on your goals and preferences.

Be Flexible

Your fitness journey is unique to you. Be open to adjusting your plan as you discover what works best for your body and lifestyle. Remember the “why”.

Overcoming Mental Blocks to Kickstart Your Exercise Routine

While we’ve focused on motivation, let’s talk about one of the biggest roadblocks. See, starting a new exercise routine can be daunting, not just physically but mentally too. And many of us face mental barriers that prevent us from taking that first step or staying consistent. So let’s cover some common mental blocks and explore simple, practical ways to work around them.

Mental Block 1: “I Don’t Have Enough Time”

The Block: One of the most common reasons (we won’t be mean and say excuses) for not exercising is a lack of time – as illustrated by our poll. And it’s easy to see why. With busy work schedules, family responsibilities, and social commitments, it can feel impossible to fit in a workout.

Workaround: Prioritize and Schedule

  • Prioritize: Acknowledge that your health is important. Even short bursts of activity can make a difference.
  • Schedule: Treat exercise like any other important appointment. Block out specific times in your calendar and stick to them. Even 10-15 minutes a day can be a great start.

Mental Block 2: “I’m Too Tired”

The Block: After a long day, the last thing you might feel like doing is exercising. Physical fatigue can make the idea of working out seem overwhelming.

Workaround: Start Small and Energize Yourself

  • Start Small: Begin with low-intensity activities like stretching, walking, or gentle yoga. Often, starting is the hardest part, and you might find that once you begin, your energy levels increase.
  • Energize Yourself: Play your favorite upbeat music, drink a glass of water, and try to get moving. Sometimes, a little nudge is all you need to overcome inertia.

Mental Block 3: “I Don’t Know What to Do”

The Block: The sheer amount of fitness options out there can leave you feeling unsure about where to start. And fear of doing exercises incorrectly or injuring yourself can also be a significant barrier.

Workaround: Seek Guidance and Keep It Simple

  • Seek Guidance: Look for beginner-friendly workout videos online, join a fitness class, or consult a personal trainer. They can provide you with a structured plan and correct your form to prevent injury.
  • Keep It Simple: You don’t need a complex routine to start. Walking, jogging, bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups, or even dancing around your living room are great ways to get moving.

Mental Block 4: “I’m Not Fit Enough”

The Block: Feeling self-conscious about your current fitness level can deter you from starting a workout routine, especially if you compare yourself to others.

Workaround: Embrace Your Journey and Celebrate Small Wins

  • Embrace Your Journey: Remember that everyone starts somewhere. Focus on your progress, not how you compare to others. Every bit of improvement, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, whether it’s completing a workout, improving your stamina, or simply showing up consistently. Positive reinforcement can boost your motivation.

Mental Block 5: “Exercise is Boring”

The Block: If you find exercise dull and monotonous, staying motivated can be a real challenge. After all, the thought of doing something you don’t enjoy will undoubtedly make it enticing to skip workouts.

Workaround: Make It Fun and Mix It Up

  • Make It Fun: Find activities that you genuinely enjoy. Whether it’s playing a sport, hiking, dancing, or even playing with your kids, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.
  • Mix It Up: Variety can keep things interesting. Try different workouts, switch up your routine, or join a group fitness class. Keeping things fresh can make exercise something you look forward to.

Mental Block 6: “I’m Afraid of Failing”

The Block: The fear of not being able to stick to a routine or not seeing results can prevent you from starting. This fear can create a cycle of avoidance and guilt.

Workaround: Focus on Consistency and Mindset

  • Focus on Consistency: Aim for consistency over perfection. It’s okay to have off-days or miss a workout. What matters is getting back on track and maintaining a regular routine.
  • Shift Your Mindset: Instead of seeing setbacks as failures, view them as learning experiences. Every step, even the small ones, contributes to your overall progress.

Mental blocks are a natural part of any new endeavor, and starting an exercise routine is no exception. But by identifying these blocks and employing simple strategies to work around them, you can build a sustainable and enjoyable fitness habit.

The Bottom Line

Too much exercise advice can feel like too many cooks in the kitchen. And it’s all too easy to get lost in the noise and lose sight of what really matters. So, by focusing on your “why” and setting clear, personalized goals, you can cut through the confusion and create a fitness plan that works for you.

Remember, the most important thing is to start. Don’t let the fear of doing it wrong keep you from doing it at all. Your journey is your own, and there’s no right or wrong way to begin. So, lace up those sneakers, take a deep breath, and take that first step towards a healthier, happier you.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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