This Well-Kept Secret Is The Key To Working Out | The Girl Who Hates Working Out

“I can tell it was a good workout because I became very emotionally fragile midway through” – @nono_bonobo

“Literally on our 2nd workout and I’m already walking like newborn Bambi” – @taqqiii

“7-minute workout? More like 7 minutes being DRENCHED IN YOUR OWN SWEAT – also pain” – @firesunflower

Whether it’s that it hurts your abs when you laugh, or that your neck muscles (which you didn’t even know you had) are throbbing – if you’ve worked out (and you did it right) you were probably sore afterwards. The pain is so real.

It’s weird if you think about it, but the pain feels like a reward for your hard work. If you’re drenched after a workout, you did good. If you can’t walk after leg day, you’re a warrior. You wear the pain with pride because it’s proof that you care about your health #hurtssogood #painisgain #thatsnotsweatthatsmyfatcrying etc. etc.

I think we wear the pain badge with pride because results take longer to appear. You could workout for weeks before seeing any real change in your body, but you only have to workout once to “feel the burn”. Result.

The reward-punishment theory describes how we’re motivated by pleasure and pain: We move toward things that bring us pleasure, and away from things that cause us pain.

Ergo no working out because, workout pain, duh.

But that’s not always the case. While pain can be something that makes us avoid things, when it comes to exercise it can also function as a reason for working out. Weird right?

Let me explain. Let’s say you help an old lady cross the street. It might not be fun at the time, but you feel better and happier after doing it. That feeling is the reward. In the same way, if you workout, even if it hurts at the time, the feeling you get afterwards acts as a reward – something that proves to you that you did something of value.

Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Because it’s important to find out what makes you feel like you achieved something.

For some people the knowledge that “one day I will see results” is enough of a reward for working out, and the future reward motivates them. For others of us, it’s not enough of a motivation because it’s too far off, and therefore hard to visualise.

What’s a reward for you? Find something – a feeling, a smell, a sound – that makes you feel good about the choice you’re making; whether that’s eating healthy or working out, and enjoy it as a reward. That’s how you trick yourself into working out.

RELATED: I Hate Working Out But I Want to Look Like A Personal Trainer (And I’m Not Prepared to Give Up Good Food)

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams


  1. By Ulrike Leupold on Wed Jun 15 2016

    The lifesum App dosent run. When i warnt to Guevaras my peronaly Body Data in lifesum and i press the Button bevor, then the App is out, my tablet startingside is running… Clan Young help me?

    • By femi on Wed Jun 15 2016

      Hi Ulrike,

      Please can you send an email with screenshots and a detailed explanation of the issue to – you can send it in German if that’s easier.

      Best regards,