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Finding the FUN in Exercise

In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports month, let’s talk nutrition’s best friend, exercise!

Obviously, as a dietitian, clients come/are referred to me for help with their eating habits. And it’s true that nutrition is the heavy hitter when it comes to maintaining general health and weight. However, it’s a mistake to ignore exercise in this equation. Exercise is diet’s best friend, and when diet is ignoring exercise, diet just isn’t going to be as effective.

We’re surrounded by opportunities to exercise and be physically fit. There’s a whole industry with in-your-face marketing devoted to selling you on the newest and greatest way to move and get in shape and lose weight. Where this industry fails us is in its proposed goal. Too many people exercise with the focus of losing weight. In this effort, they forget to pay attention to a really important factor…having fun.

Ask yourself, do you think of exercise as work, or as fun time? If you answered “work,” you’re setting yourself up for failure already. What are you more likely to keep doing, something that feels like fun, or something that feels like work? The right kind of exercise is the kind you’re going to stick with, and choosing something you enjoy is KEY to making this happen.

Photo Credit: Linette Kielinski (Instagram: @wodtographer)

So, if you haven’t found that kind of exercise you enjoy, start exploring. Try some local hiking trails, take a Zumba class, hire a personal trainer, take a couple swimming lessons, buy a yoga DVD. And here’s the kicker, you don’t even have to do the same thing every day! If you get bored easily, mix it up! If you’re moving, it counts, and there are a million different ways to do that.

Brutal Self-Honesty

I hear it all…the…time. “I just can’t get motivated to work out.” If this sounds like you, ask yourself, “…why?” Is it that you truly don’t like exercising? Or is there something else affecting your desire to exercise?

Spoiler: Life doesn’t play fair.

Life is not going to step aside so that you can exercise at the exact time you want to, every time you want to. This is why it’s so important to find a way to exercise that gives you some kind of enjoyment. Those days where you’re feeling lukewarm about working out are going to feel a million times harder if you’re doing something you don’t like.

On the other side of this situation is how other areas of your life are affecting your ability to workout. This is the tough part. A lot of us are used to thinking of exercise like a luxury. It takes second seat to work, family, chores, socializing. But what happens when all of those other things are so consuming that you can’t exercise as much as you need to to be healthy? …See that word? “HEALTHY.” If your health is a priority, then adequate exercise HAS to be a priority too.

As a first step, recognize that you’re not allowing yourself the time and energy to exercise. As your second step, it’s time to do some hard thinking. How can you adjust your routine to make your health more of a priority? This is a discussion dietitians have with their clients more than you might think. When this discussion gets really hairy, we sometimes need to refer to a mental health professional to help navigate the process.

Whatever the adjustments that need to be made, however hard we need to work at making them happen, the end result, your HEALTH, is worth it.


Remember in grade school during recess when we all loved to monkey around, play kickball, swim…maybe you played a sport, or took dance classes. Remember that feeling and let it help guide you to where you want to take your exercise routine. There is absolutely no rule that says you must trudge on a treadmill in front of the TV wishing 30 minutes of your life away. You can find a better option.

If you have questions on how much you should exercise, or need some ideas on where to start, be sure to get your dietitian in on this discussion.

To find a registered dietitian in your area, check out this RD finder:

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