B.E. Healthy: Exercise vs. Training


activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.



the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.


A little over a year ago, I – unconsciously—changed my mindset on working out. I went from “exercising” to “training.” Note the definitions above. I started setting specific goals for myself. Goals like getting my mile time under a specific number, doing an unassisted pull-up, or being able to lift a certain amount of weight. Once I hit a goal, I would inch up the goal to something a little more challenging. Setting these mini goals made working out so much more enjoyable and fun for me (coming from someone who already relatively enjoyed exercise). I felt like my “training” had a purpose, while for me, “exercise” did not.

Many people use exercise as a tool to lose weight and a way to keep their hearts healthy…. Which is great! But is that sole focus going to keep you motivated forever? Probably not. Why? Because these are external motivators. In his book Drive, Daniel Pink says, “When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system – which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators—doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements. 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.” In this case, ‘business’ can be applied to physical training and purpose could be the heart health portion of exercise, ensuring you’re around and healthy to watch your kids, grandkids and great grandkids grow up! [Side note—I would highly recommend this book as it applies to so much more in life than just working out.]

Try taking your focus away from using exercise purely as a weight loss tool or as a “punishment” for overindulging. Refocus to setting goals within a type of workout that you love doing. It may be as simple as completing an unassisted pushup or running a certain distance without stopping to walk. Focus on training for something and I think you’ll be surprised to find that the physical results will automatically follow. You’ll be excited to train to meet this goal! And once you hit that goal, you’ll likely be excited to set another mini goal bigger than the first… and so on! This can even apply to nutrition. If you are dedicated to training to meet a specific goal, you may find it’s a bit easier to eat a healthier diet because you know that eating a super unhealthy diet isn’t going to do you any favors to help reach your goal.

Action Steps:

  1. Find a way to move that you LOVE. (I wrote a whole article on this step in the September 2016 issue, you can read it at forsythwoman.com. Simply type “love how you move” in the search box.)
  2. Set a mini goal that you can ‘train’ to achieve.
  3. Keep yourself accountable by telling your goal to others.

I hope this is helpful information for you and best of luck on your training!



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