Let’s face it. At some time or another, we have all struggled with motivation to exercise. Many don’t know how to get into an exercise routine, let alone stick with it long-term. Even those among us who are fitness enthusiasts have had a bad week and have a hard time getting back into our groove.
While I don’t think it is a perfect book, “No Sweat” by Michelle Segar, is one of the better reads I have found when it comes to helping people find what motivates them and sticking with it to bring them to a long-term, healthier lifestyle.
The Overview: What, How Much, And Where To Buy
“No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar, PH.D
American Management Associate (AMACOM), New York, 2015, 221 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-8144-3485-7
Best Place To Purchase: Amazon.com
Amazon Star-Rating: 4.4 out of 5 (160 reviews)
My Star-Rating: 4 out of 5
Who Is Michelle Segar? What Makes Her Reliable?
Before getting into her book, it would be helpful to know a little about the author.
Michelle Segar is a PH. D holding motivation and behavioral sustainability scientist. She is the University of Michigan’s director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center. Her PH. D is in Psychology and she holds Master’s Degrees in Health Behavior and Kinesiology.
Additionally, she is the Chairperson for the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan’s Communications Committee. She has been working with individual clients for twenty years as a health and well-being coach.
Her goal is to create sustainable, behavioral change in those she works with.
You can learn more about her at her website, www.michellesegar.com.
A No Sweat Synopsis
From the back cover:
“Do you secretly hate exercising? Struggle to stick with a program? Millions of people try to fail to stay fit. But what if “exercising” is the real problem, not you?
‘No Sweat‘ translates years of research on exercise and motivation into a simple, four-point program that will empower you to break the cycle of exercise failure once and for all. You’ll discover why you should forget about willpower and stop gritting your teeth through workouts you hate.
Instead, you’ll become motivated form the inside out and start to crave physical activity. You’ll be hooked!
Practical, proven, and loaded with inspiring stories, ‘No Sweat’ makes getting fit easier – and more fun – than you ever imagined. Get ready to embrace an active lifestyle that you’ll love.”
Now that all sounds great, but it is the back of the book. Their not going to say anything negative there. So how does this seemingly magical process actually work?
Road M.A.P.S. to Success
Ms. Segar’s idea revolves around the acronym M.A.P.S. I will briefly describe it here, but you’ll have to get the full story by reading the book (copyright infringement is not on my list of things to get in trouble for today!). “No Sweat“ is divided into four parts:
Part 1 is based off the concept that the meaning your give to exercise can ultimately decide the health of your relationship to it and your ability to stick with it.
Finding the meaning behind your exercise begins with figuring out the reasons you started in the first place. Many of us begin with the wrong, negative (i.e. lose weight) reasons to exercise and they severely hamper our ability and motivation to stick with a program.
The reason most of us start an exercise program is externally motivated, which doesn’t sustain motivation. When exercise becomes a chore, it becomes less desirable to accomplish.
Part 2 is begins with discovering what obstacles have prevented you from either exercising or sticking with a program. It then moves toward helping you decide what types of physical activities are motivating to you.
The key idea here is to change what you consider to be exercise. Moving away from the strict, formal workouts and gym visits to a concept that every type of movement counts, thus giving you the freedom to move in ways that are enjoyable. The logic is that if you move in ways that are enjoyable, you will keep moving!
This takes the chore aspect out of exercise and turns it into more of a lifestyle you want to adopt.
Part 3 deals with a concept that so many have trouble with, especially those who are extremely busy with their work or families (I could especially relate to this section as I have a young family that tends to take a lot of my attention).
The general idea is that you allow yourself to give importance to taking care of yourself and make that a priority. It attempts to help you get past ideas that it is selfish or that by doing so, you won’t be able to be effective in your roles as worker, family member, etc.
While it may seem counter-intuitive and hard to grasp, this section is really quite helpful!
Part 4 is all about how to use learning and negotiation to keep you on the path of lifelong fitness and health. There are many things that come up in our busy lives that we have to navigate.
If we are going to make our health an important aspect of our lives, it is essential that we learn how to plan, negotiate, and prioritize, both for the expected and the unexpected.
“Strategy” aims to help you do just that.
Now that we have given a background of the author and the general outline and purpose of the book, it’s time to decide whether this book is for you. To do that, I’m going to highlight some things that I really liked about the book and others which I wasn’t so high on.
My aim is to always give a balanced opinion and allow you, the reader, to make your own decision!
Where “No Sweat” Hits It Out Of The Park
As I stated before, “No Sweat“ gets a lot of things right when it comes to motivation. The book is simple to read and easy to understand. I love how it’s not just another person writing in general terms about how to get motivated.
Michelle Segar is a thoroughly educated and practiced individual. Her 20-plus years of experience really show in this book and she finds ways to mix in personal client stories with hard data research in an extremely interesting way.
She is caring and honest in the interactions she shares with her clients, but also blunt and unafraid to challenge the false notions they bring up.
For me, that is a great approach! Her motivation to turn exercise into an enjoyable experience is something you don’t necessarily hear a lot of. There is certainly talk about adherence and motivation, but I’m not sure I’ve heard it in this particular way before.
I really like how to book is broken down by each part of M.A.P.S. It’s very organized and breaks down each part of the acronym into great detail before moving on to the next part. You will definitely gain an understanding of her method by the time you read the last page.
Something that is incredibly helpful is that each chapter ends with a series of takeaways that sum up the big ideas of the chapter. This is a great source for refreshing yourself on the concepts without having to go back and read that entire chapter (though that would be incredibly helpful too).
For those like me, who have trouble remembering concepts after they have read an entire chapter, these takeaways are critical to my remembrance of certain topics!
However, perhaps the most helpful tool I found in the book were the various “It’s Your Move!” sections. A great deal of informational books like this will go through the text, give you all the information, and then leave you hanging. “No Sweat“ is not one of these books. Many times, mid-chapter, you are given one of these sections so that you can immediately put the ideas into practice.
Not only is this helpful in remembering the concepts discussed, but it personalizes it by giving you exercises (not fitness, but mental) to work through and discover things you may not have known about yourself. This moves it from the realm of general concept to hard, scientific, and practicable fact.
I truly believe that if you take the time to do each individual “It’s Your Move!” exercise, you will get a ton out of this book and put yourself on the path to long-term fitness adherence.
Where “No Sweat” Falls Short
As you can see above, there is a lot to like about this book. However, something that sticks out to me as a potential negative, and I’m not sure whether it is because of my own motivation level or something else.
I like the concepts of “all movement counts” and “if you move in ways you enjoy, you will keep moving.” There have been many times when I am tired after mowing a lawn or doing something physical that is not a formal workout and said, “Yeah, I’m skipping my workout today.”
I have no problem with replacing a formal workout with informal movement. Just not on a consistent basis.
For example, I understand that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can really dampen the spirits of someone just starting to work out. I’ve written before about how going too hard, too fast really limits the chances of long-term adherence. However, what if the way that I enjoy moving is a leisurely stroll in the park?
Sure, it’s great that I am getting outside and moving, but is it enough of a challenge to make a lasting physical change in my life? Will I really be motivated to try new methods of physical activity if I get too comfortable to branch out?
Additionally, moving in ways I like doesn’t necessarily tackle maybe moving in ways that I need. For example, I may like to ride my bike every day. That’s great physical exercise, but if I have a history of osteoporosis in my family, what I need is weight-bearing exercise. In many ways, that weight-bearing exercise can help increase my effectiveness and enjoyment of my bike riding!
“No Sweat” makes a great case that when people are met with external motivations, they find it extremely difficult to adhere to an exercise program. I am in agreement that external motivations, like weight loss, are not helpful or motivating. That is statistical fact.
Where I am conflicted is the statistics on adherence show the same shortfall when the external motivation is
given by a doctor. When they discuss future health problems if no change is made. I understand what the statistics say, but is the problem always with the external motivator, or does it sometimes lie within each of us?
For example, when I was younger, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The doctors explained to me the treatment plan which included surgery and radiation treatment, as well as years of checkups, medication dose changes, etc.
It was going to be extremely difficult.
Would I say to the doctor that because I am not going to enjoy that, I’ll treat it in a way that I might enjoy more? Absolutely not. Now, nearly 15 years later, I am healthy, strong, and have basically been labeled “cured”.
Most importantly though, going through the challenges has given me a resilience and toughness that I wouldn’t have had before.
The same can be said for exercise. All exercise may not feel great. Exercise may be difficult. Yet, if by meeting those difficulties, sticking with them, and overcoming, do we not only become stronger physically, but mentally? It’s something I think is worth pondering.
The point of this is to put forward the idea that while I think “No Sweat” is a great (and I do mean GREAT) starting point, I’m not sure it necessarily goes far enough.
The only other thing I can say negatively about the book is that by the end, it gets a little repetitive. I understand she is trying to hammer home the concept, but it could have been done in a few less pages. That’s another reason why it’s great that the takeaways are at the end of each chapter.
“No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness“ is a great start for someone who has tried and tried to get motivated, but found nothing that works. It is full of wonderful stories, illustrations, research, and practical exercises to get you on your way toward a life of fitness.
Aside from the possibility that it doesn’t go far enough in dealing with the problem of motivation and that it is a bit too long, I think it is well worth your time to read.
Now it’s your turn. Is “No Sweat” what you have been looking for? If so, make sure you CLICK HERE to grab your copy today! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Let me know what you thought of my qualm with the book as well. Whether you agree or disagree, lets discuss!
Thanks for reading, have a great start to your summer, and God bless!