Tag Archives: I hate exercise

Why the First Ten Minutes of Exercise are the Hardest


It’s very important to know your body.  There are certain warning signs that may let you know that your body is in distress.  I talk about some of those signs in this document here.  I call them the dashboard indicators.  If you are new to exercise you should read up on these signs before you begin.  If these dashboard indicators appear, you will need to STOP and figure out what’s going on before you continue with exercise.  If  however, you are not experiencing these dashboard indicators and just hate the first ten minutes of your workout, then please read on.


It’s a common theme with my exercise students.  They often say, “After about ten minutes of working out, I feel pretty good, but those first ten minutes, really SUCK!”  First of all, let me assure you that the first ten minutes are fairly hard for everybody.  And there’s actually a pretty clear and well-understood reason for it, too.


When we go from standing or sitting still to exercising, our body demands far more energy in the form of oxygen than our body is ready to supply.  Our muscles need a chemical called ATP in order to contract.  But the aerobic systems in our bodies only have about ten seconds worth of ATP laying around at any given moment.  After ten seconds your body needs to start making ATP.  Your anaerobic systems can supply maybe another two or three minutes worth of ATP, but after that, your body needs to switch over to the aerobic system again to start producing more ATP.  Your body doesn’t know that it needs to switch over to the other system until your oxygen is significantly depleted and your carbon dioxide levels have started to go up.   And even after your body knows to switch to the aerobic system, that switchover from the anaerobic system to the aerobic system can be kind of rough.  At this point, you begin to breathe harder and your heart rate rises.  But by this point, you not only need to create enough ATP to keep moving, you have to repay your “oxygen debt” where your body’s need for oxygen lags behind your body’s ability to make oxygen.

This sloth may be experiencing an oxygen debt.  Or not…

This period of time, while you are working through the “oxygen debt” can feel pretty yucky.  You may feel a burning sensation in your legs and feel significantly out of breath.  Your heart rate will ramp up pretty quickly and after just a few short minutes, you may feel like running right back home.  But if you stay with exercise for just a few minutes longer, you may well find that your efforts “smooth out”.  Your body’s need for oxygen lines up with your body’s ability to deliver oxygen and you feel a lot better.

Many, many exercisers (including me) experience this sensation.  Being really fit may help you move through this transition a little more quickly and smoothly but won’t necessarily help you avoid this “oxygen debt” altogether.  But there is something you CAN do to make this transition a little easier–a proper warmup.

Doing a gradual ramp up to exercise, starting slowly for a few minutes before you start to run or cycle or dance away can really help you through the “terrible ten” minutes at the start of a workout.  Start with a walk, or a very slow roll on the bike or a very slow dance.  This signals your body to “start the aerobic energy pipeline” without creating such a huge oxygen debt.  Less oxygen debt means less discomfort and a shorter period of discomfort.  Try a warmup before your next workout and see if you don’t feel better.

But it can also be extremely helpful just to realize that this is perfectly normal.  It doesn’t mean that your body is defective.  It doesn’t mean you suck at exercise.  It just means that you have to get your body to accept, “hey, we’re gonna exercise now.”  Your body may respond like a seven year old kid saying, “I don’t wanna go to school!”  You may find it helpful to sneak up on your body by starting out with a warmup and gradually working into the whole exercise thing.  But you may just have to accept that the first few minutes are gonna suck and slog through it.  Better miles are ahead!

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Exercise Discovery–Finding Your Fun


Naturally a lot of people ask me what I do.  And very often when I tell them, they say, “Oh I hate to exercise.”  And if they seem happy with the idea that they hate exercise, I leave it at that.  People are allowed to love exercise or hate exercise or do exercise despite the fact they hate it or start a small hat shop.  It’s not my job to tell them what to do.  But sometimes people ask me how they can stop hating exercise, and that’s what this blog post is about.

Because as the graphic says above, exercise is like sex, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.  And if you flipped that slide over, you would come to the second part of that statement which is, “sometimes you’ve got to kiss a few exercise toads before you find your exercise prince or princess.”

Cuteness aside, I think a lot of people try one kind of exercise one or two times and decide that they hate exercise altogether.  And I’d like to gently suggest that maybe you need to try “dating” a few other kinds of exercise in a few other places with a few different people before you decide to give up on exercise forever.  That’s not to say that some people don’t simply hate all forms of exercise.  I’m sure that’s true for some people, and that’s totally okay.  But if you haven’t tried any form of exercise since elementary school dodge ball tournaments or Jane Fonda leg warmer exercise videos, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

We started out this week with a day dedicated to discovery (at least in the United States).  And whether you choose to call it Columbus Day or Bartolome Day or just that extra day off in October, we can choose to let that day encourage us to be adventurers.   Let’s choose to be exercise explorers together.

One way to begin is to evaluate your last dreadful exercise experience.  What did you hate about it?  Was it the sweating?  Was it being outside?  Was it in a class where you felt you couldn’t keep up?  Was it somewhere that made you feel embarrassed or inadequate?  Did the exercise hurt?  Were you too hot or too cold?  Did you get injured?  See if you can pinpoint the specific thing or things you hated most about your experience.

Once we’ve got that figured out, we can work to expand our exercise minds.  ANY kind of movement can be considered exercise of one sort or another.  Even if it seems too “easy”.  Even if it doesn’t seem like exercise at all.  It could be gardening or playing racquetball.  It could be walking around the mall or roller skating or having magnificent tantric sex with movie stars.

Next, we can work to evaluate a the items on our expanded exercise list based on a few criteria:

1.  Does it help us avoid the stuff we hated about exercise last time?  If we hated walking outside was it the walking part we hated or the outside part we hated or both?  If it was the outside part, will walking on a treadmill or walking inside at the mall be better?  If we hated walking will cycling or roller skating outside be better?  You get the idea.

2.  Is this form of exercise something I have a reasonable chance of actually getting to try?  I imagine that wild, frantic, fabulous sex with James Bond would be high on my list of exercises I’d like to try.  There are just a few problems with that: A) I’m married, B) I don’t know where to find James Bond, and C) James Bond doesn’t exist.  I don’t want to pee in your pool here, but if you live in Iowa, maybe surfing is not the sport for you.  If you want to go to California on your next trip and try it out, by all means please do.  But in the meantime, maybe you’d like to try something a little closer to home.

3.  Does it seem like fun?  Surfing and secret movie star sex aside, there is probably some sort of activity that will sound at least a little bit fun to you.  Maybe it’s salsa dancing or hula dancing lessons.  Maybe it’s Japanese drumming.  Maybe it’s running around with a DV camera and recording stuff or swimming or scuba diving or canoeing.  There are so many activities out there that can increase your strength, flexibility or stamina.  Get some magazines!  Surf the net!  Roll some different kinds of exercise around in your mouth until something tastes delicious and you are eager to try it.

4.  Accept that you will have to kiss some more exercise toads.  In our search for Mr. or Ms. right, I think most of us understand that we won’t necessarily find our perfect match on the first date.  Or the twentieth date.  Or even the one hundredth date.  But you know what?  There’s a lot of fish in that exercise sea.  And sometimes, ya just gotta pick yourself up, dust that spandex off and try again.

5.  Evaluate, rate and keep trying.  Each exercise “date” deserves a little post mortem.  Ask yourself, what did I love about this?  What did I hate?  What parts were just okay?  Is there a way to make this exercise more fun or am I just dressing up a toad here?  Is it possible for the Fat Chick to even get one more silly mixed metaphor into a single blog post?  After you’ve done your evaluation, you can decide if you’d like to try another date with that exercise, if you’re done dating that exercise or if you never want to see another exercise remotely like that EVER AGAIN.  It’s up to you.

By the way, I’d like to add one more tip.  Given the fact that we’re “dating” exercise forms here, can I humbly suggest that you don’t offer to marry that exercise before you’ve even gone out on your first date?  Please, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t sign up for $8,000 worth of courses or sign up for an 18-year non-refundable gym contract before you know if you even like a form of exercise or a place to do it?  I myself have subscribed to the, “If I pay $3,000 for it, I know I’ll do it, because I don’t want to waste the money” school of thought.  And I’ve spent many years hanging my lingerie on the treadmill while I learned the folly of that thinking, hopefully for good.

So my dear readers, I hope you feel encouraged to go out there and try something new.  And once you find your exercise bliss, I’d love to encourage you to take photos and share them with Ragen and I on the Fit Fatties Forum.  And don’t forget to have fun!


Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)