Exercise: How do I get out of my own goddamn way?

Updated Oct 25 2018
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
By: pagedooley – CC BY 2.0
By: pagedooleyCC BY 2.0

Exercise has always been extremely challenging for me. I've never been able to find that place of determination inside of me that is required to build up any sort of routine. Most exercise is not enjoyable because I'm so out of shape, but I know that would change with time. There is an energetic flame (deep) inside of me that wants to grow, but I just CAN'T.

I've tried (what feels like) everything, I'm at a complete loss, and I'm looking for some advice from others who have been in a similar boat and found their way in.

I'm not going to list my 1,000 excuses/barriers because you can fill in the gaps. What have you done to get yourself over the hump, get motivated to exercise, and create a sustainable practice? -PaintingMkay

My "get the hell off my ass and workout" hacks are these…

  1. The spendy version: Hire a trainer. If I'm actually spending cash on the cause, I WILL be motivated to get my money's worth.
  2. The free version: Set up work out dates with friends. For a while, I had a standing date to go on hikes with my best friend. Soon, I was finding that once a week wasn't enough for me, and I started going on more hikes just by myself.
  3. The extreme version: Get a dog. When I realized that I wasn't EVER getting out of the house because I was working from home, I adopted a dog, thereby forcing me to get out and go on walks at least twice a day!

What are the ways you motivate yourself to get out of your own goddamn way and get to exercising?

  1. My suggestions would be similar to the ones given above. My "spendy tactic" to go exercise was to join a gym. This might not work for everybody, but for me, seeing the $70/month that comes automatically out of my credit card makes me want to get my money's worth.

    Also, try looking for some offbeat exercise classes in your area. My city has a dance studio that runs a drop-in burlesque aerobics class that is so much fun. I try and get down there at least once a month for a class when I can.

    • Classes work for me too. I feel like there is an expectation for me to go because of the teacher. Just getting a gym membership does not work for me but if I know there is a person there waiting for me then I show up. I got personal trainer, expensive but for me it was worth it because he was there waiting for me.

  2. Make the gym a place you want to go. My gym has really good showers with great water pressure, so if I go to the gym, I get to take a shower. Doesn't matter if I actually work out; the important part is getting me to the gym.

    Go in the morning.

    Terry Crews' reddit AMA essentially says this, but is way more swagtastic, because he's Terry Crews:

    Yes. It has to feel good. I tell people this a lot – go to the gym, and just sit there, and read a magazine, and then go home. And do this every day.

  3. I could never make myself exercise at home alone. I am very money-conscious- If I pay for a class, I will go. So I pay for a month of yoga classes at a time! I feel good because the "bulk buy" is much less expensive per class so the "spending money on myself" guilt excuse is gone, and I'm finally getting regular exercise.

  4. I joined a running course for "beginners" through a local athletic shop. There were lots of other people in the same boat, so I didn't feel like [too much of] a loser or a schlub. Over six weeks, we gradually worked up to running for half an hour at a stretch. It really helped! Now I go out running on my own twice a week for half an hour, and after a few months of dragging myself to do it, I don't hate it anymore! Half an hour just seems more doable to me than anything longer.
    But I have a dog I can take along, so I'd have to go out anyway, which makes it less of a hurdle to get up and go.

  5. I found my motivation by downloading a couple of apps for my phone – one that I can track what I eat (keeps me from just eating pizza and thai take-out) and also log my weight and calories burned. For the actual exercise I have an app that tracks how many miles I jog and calories I burn. It may sound lame, but seeing numbers keeps me motivated to keep going. Like "well this says I've done 3 miles so far.. Might as well keep going and make 4 miles". And the apps were free!

  6. This requires some self discipline (hard, I know!) but I told myself I could only have treats (desserts, booze) if I worked out that day. I didn't restrict my eating habits in any other way so it didn't really feel like a "diet" but I was amazingly motivated to work out on Friday afternoons if it was the difference between having my usual end of week adult beverage or not. If I didn't work out, I told myself "I can't have ___ because I didn't work out." Not "Well, I'll work out an extra day next week to make up for this treat now" or any other kind of bargaining – it had to be black and white, yes I worked out or no I didn't.

  7. Rather than paying to go to the gym, I get most of my exercise from walking these days! I walk to work as well as to do a few errands around my house. I figure I'm getting (at least) two birds with one stone – getting some exercise and getting to work/going to the library, etc. I started a c25k program a few months ago, and occasionally turn my walk home into a walk/run home as well. Now I'm aiming for a 5k this weekend!

    I've also had some success with setting a goal – "I'm going to do an online yoga class once a day for two months" (Hooray for Yoga Today!) and being able to stick with it. I do tend to drop off a little once that goal period is over, but it can be nice to really focus on something for short bursts. Group exercise / dance classes – I've done burlesque and belly dancing – are also great fun, and I find it harder to miss something I'm paying for.

    • Hi there, I was just looking at the Yoga Today website. Do you know how much it is per month? I hate signing up for a free trial of something only to find out the real deal is out of my price range? Thanks so much! Looks great 🙂

      • I've used it for the past few years, and usually just do a year's subscription. They tend to run a deal in December for like $90 for the year. You could do it for a month, but I don't recall the price. I've been very happy with the instructors and the variety of classes (style, length, level, etc) – and it does work out well for me to just do it at home rather than find a class. YMMV, but I've been very happy with them!

        • I use: doyogawithme.com
          I'm not from the organization, just an avid user. It's free and you can steam classes of varying lengths and types of your computer/ipad.

          • Thank you so much for posting that link! I kept telling myself I'd get to a yoga class eventually, but they're all so expensive in my area that I haven't gotten around to it. I just did a 25-minute core video on my bedroom floor and it felt awesome. I'm looking forward to making a habit of it!

      • Another good option is Yoga with Adriene. Her videos are free and she currently has a 30 day challenge up that's really great!

    • I read an article on New York Times about how they were researching the "best" way to exercise. They found that walking for an hour a day got the best results for overall health. So even though people don't have time to walk for a whole hour, I always encourage people to just walk a little more. I stopped walking to work (it moved further away from where I lived) and I feel REALLY different. I gained weight, and I seriously didn't about how much it effected my overall health.

  8. As motivators, I remind myself that I want to have a high quality of life when I'm old; I don't want to be that grandmother who can't do fun things with her family because she's lost her abilities to walk, drive, etc. I also remind myself that with enough cardio, I can get the "high", and that'll be fun, I just have to get to that point. But I think the biggest factor in starting a new lifestyle thing like exercising regularly is that you have to give up something else — time doesn't come from nowhere. For me, I gave up a lot of my "bumming around on the internet" time. So find something you're willing to part with in exchange for your exercise-related goals, and I think you'll be set up for success!

    • Other tidbits I forgot:

      I have a fund of "fun money" and when I don't go to the gym, I take $2 out. It's not a whole lot, so I don't feel tons of pressure, but it's just enough to let me know that it'd be better to go. If you find that money is a great motivator for you, then you can try http://www.stickk.com; you write up a contract wherein they give money from your credit card to a charity you like every time you do what you're supposed to… or give your money to a charity you hate every time you don't! I don't use it, personally, but if you're serious about achieving a lifestyle goal, then that site can help a lot.

      And I try to go almost first thing in the morning, before I can start my planned activities for the day or talk myself out of it. If I just wake up and go, then almost no thought is required. When I go in the afternoons because I have some obligation too early in the morning to gym in the morning, then it takes a lot of mental effort and time to get prepped.

      • OMG, this is IT for me. I think I found my motivator. Thank you so much! If I just set it up making sure that when I don't do something, my hard-earned money goes to fund pro-life/anti-choice organizations, it will be all the motivation I ever need.

  9. This is how we overcame our barriers:
    Barrier 1) No Gym Experience
    We participated in an exercise/appetite research program at our local University. This was 12 weeks of free gym (with a few tests and surveys along the way) and helped us decide what we liked and what we didn't about the gym experience.

    Barrier 2) Getting Out Of The House
    We don't drive, and although we have gyms and pools close by, it was more of a psychological barrier adding at least 30 minutes either side of the workout to get there and back. So we decided to invest the money that we could have put into gym membership, into a rowing machine – which was our joint preferred workout at the gym. We picked one that fitted our lifestyle (The Waterrower) that could be tucked away in a corner when not in use but didn't need any setting up. We're able to watch TV that we've recorded whilst rowing and jump in the shower straight after.
    ADDED BONUS: When you aren't leaving the house to exercise there's no impetus to put effort into what you look like. I've rowed in PJs, bra-less or in "Tights and a T-Shirt" which was my personal revelation for post-work work-outs (Get home, strip to my opaque tights, fling on a t-shirt & my trainers and I'm ready to start).

    Barrier 3) Actually Doing It
    OK, so here's the truth, when we first got our rower we were great at getting the kilometres under our belt. Then the novelty wore off. We tried saying "We'll row three times a week" but when you didn't manage that (sickness, holidays, hot days) there was no incentive to do more to compensate. So I tried a new tactic and set a monthly target of 66km each, with a chart to mark off what we did. This was the equivalent of across the English Channel and back and felt like a fun target. We mostly reached this, but sometimes we felt like we could have done more, so I switched to a 100km chart and we pick our own targets (mine is to do more than last year, R's is to average 73 a month). We still have months where we don't achieve our targets, but in general we're good at keeping going. We haven't used threats (£1 per km in the kitty for each missed target for example) but that might spur us on if we need it in future.

    Final idea – Do something fun but physical.
    When my friend invited me to join in a new Mermaid class at her local pool it sounded too much fun to miss. I've now been going regularly for almost a year and though in itself it's not a massive workout, I've rekindled my love for being in the pool. I'm also stretching myself in trying new moves and even will do a few tedious lengths whilst waiting for the class to start. However the thing that brings me back week after week is the women I mermaid with, and the laughs we have, the exercise bit is almost incidental. Fitness by stealth if you will!

    Good luck!

  10. Oh lordy, I have been there. I only really started getting in to exercise when I lived with my little sister who runs marathons. She and my boyfriend challenged me to run a 5k and I didn't believe I could do it. Finishing that race made me realize that I could be fit and an athlete. That said, ending up in a heinous job was enough to throw me off my exercise game for a year.

    This winter I was reflecting on what makes the difference between people like me, who will grab hold of any excuse not to exercise (legitimate or not) and people like my sister, and other triathletes or marathoners I know, who are really fit. I found an article that actually named these people: Lifetime Effective Exercisers, or people who tend to be fit for life. For LTEEs exercise is part of every day's routine and not negotiable.

    My 2015 New Year's resolution has been to become an LTEE. I have it written on my calendar and my goal is to exercise in some way every day. I plan my work outs ahead of time instead of my old plan of fitting it in "when I have time." Sometimes that just looks like doing a 10 minute Fitness Blender on YouTube because that is all I have time for. What matters is that I am trying to make exercise a non-negotiable part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. I have found for myself that if I set the goal of working out 4 days a week it is way too easy to constantly push it to tomorrow.

    Here are the links I mentioned:
    LTEEs: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=2012
    Fitness Blender: https://www.fitnessblender.com/

    • Totally. What worked for me was (a) finding a form of exercise I actually enjoyed (weight training) and (b) making training *not a decision I made*. If it was Monday/Wednesday/Friday, I was going to the gym that day, that was it, end of, no buts or ifs or anything. If I felt low-energy or something, my deal was I had to go for 15 minutes and if I still felt terrible, I could leave.

      I never left! 15 minutes is long enough to remember why you're doing it.

      Now it's such a habit that I feel off if I don't train.

    • That makes sense, I think I only started to workout and feel great about it when I started making schedules. I am not good at it so I sometimes join challenges or make a "game" out of it. Like I use to do the Wii Fitness game. Then I did The Daily Burn which can make a schedule. Now I am currently doing the Summer Shape Up on The Fitnessista. I am loving it, planned workouts and a facebook board to talk to other people. It is nice. She does this once in the summer and once in the winter. She also workout videos which I like as well. Oh and she is pretty body positive, though if you join the shape up boards and read comments there is no safety. But you aren't going to hear he say "Let's say good bye to that arm flab!" Ugh!

  11. Two ideas:

    1. Anything that gets you moving can be exercise. Hate gyms? Hate running? No need to do that! What about swimming, surfing, hiking, aerial arts / trapeze, swing dancing, burlesque, walking dogs, karate / self-defense, canoeing, weight lifting (yes it can be for women too!), frisbee, or playing with a beginner soccer team? It all counts, just try whatever sounds like fun.

    2. Visit http://www.nerdfitness.com/. This website has an amazingly supportive, nerdy, body-positive community. Many of them participate in a hybrid online-real life RPG that helps people set and achieve fitness goals. They meet once per year at a camp to do outdoorsy stuff while wearing superhero costumes. (full disclosure: this website is where I learned tip #1). The founder writes a blog about topics like challenging you to walk as far as Frodo and finding your secret "superpower". I have so much love for these folks!

    • Yes to this! You don't need nearly as much motivation if you find something to do that you actually enjoy rather than view as an unpleasant chore. Hiking, dance and later water aerobics were what finally got me to enjoy effortful moving, and these activities (like many others that aren't in gyms) can be fantastic workouts; anything that I'd been nagged to do as the e-word when I was a lethargic teen really never worked for me. I'm not saying these are your activities though– what sounds exciting or interesting to you? Tune more deeply into that energetic spark you're feeling and ask it what would feed it best and allow it to blossom. It still takes some discipline to create routines and to not wuss out on tired days, but it's SO much easier most of the time if your workouts are hobbies too.

    • Yes! Joined the Nerd Fitness Academy (lifetime membership for a reasonable price) and I am SO GLAD I did. The private Facebook group for Academy members is SO AMAZING, very similar to my experience as a tribe member on OffBeat Bride! Everyone is non-judgmental and supportive, and it's so great to be connecting with people who have similar health and fitness goals. I love all the sciency stuff behind Steve's opinions on diet and fitness, too–definitely satisfies my nerdy side. I've been moving around more and eating better since joining, even when I'm not really intending to, because life is just better when you live it the Nerd Fitness way.

    • YES to nerdfitness! That's an awesome website. Also, for me the other thing that has been working is setting the "entrance fee" for what counts as exercise at almost nothing. 25 jumping jacks? Running in place for 60 seconds? 10 push-ups? These all count as having worked out, because I found when I set the bar any higher I would just not even start. By agreeing with myself that ANY exercise was better than no exercise I've done far more than I would otherwise. Because quite often if I go do some jumping jacks I end up doing some weights, or put on the boxing gloves or do something else. But the entrance fee is still, quite literally, ANY exercise counts as having worked out that day.

  12. While I haven't quite managed to translate this into real exercise, I LOVE my free pedometer app. I got it thinking I walked a lot at work, and surely I'd have no problem hitting my 10,000 steps. So wrong. So, I find it very motivating to get my numbers higher. I don't have money to spend on classes or gyms, but knowing I don't want my day to be a sad little 2000 steps makes me get up and move around more during the day!

  13. My recommendation would be to join a sport of some kind. I joined low-contact roller derby for exercise (and awesomeness) in February 2014 and I love it.

    I also find it incredibly hard to motivate myself to work out for the sake of working out. Even since I joined roller derby, I haven't been able to motivate myself to supplement our weekly practices with extra workouts, although I know it would improve my game. Getting out once a week for an intense 2-hour practice (more intense since I started planning them a few months ago!) has definitely made me stronger.

    I find it way easier to be able to work towards a goal with a team than exercise on my own. Definitely see if there are any sports teams in your area you'd be interested in. A friend of mine does Ultimate Frisbee and soccer. He's a very fit and active person, but it's because he's doing sports multiple nights a week, not because he joined a gym.

    Roller derby can be expensive to join because of the equipment cost, but if you have a local team, see if they have loaner gear so you can try it out, and see if anyone's selling used skates. A lot of people start out on less expensive skates and then upgrade in a year or two, so finding cheap used skates is usually pretty easy. There are also lots of sports that are cheap to join, so see what's in your area and don't be afraid to ask people what it takes to get started!

    • I was just going to suggest the exact same thing, Kristine! I joined my local roller derby league 7 (!) years ago and it's the ONLY form of exercise that I've consistently maintained and never got sick of. For me it's because 1. it's challenging physically and mentally and 2. as part of a competitive team it's a built-in motivator so I don't let my team down/am constantly improving myself along with my team. And 3. since our practices are on set days/times each week I set aside those times for practice, so skipping or postponing until later (and then never going) isn't really an option. It's Monday night? I'm going to practice. Thursday night? practice. Sunday morning? practice. It's such a part of my routine that I don't even think much about it anymore.

      Find a team sport that you really enjoy–even just a bar league like co-ed softball, soccer or beach volleyball, and incorporate that into your regular routine. Fun & exercise FTW!

  14. The only tactic that has ever worked for me is to find a form of exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. For me that was Jazzercise. I love dancing, so I never dreaded going. Sure there's sweating and heavy-breathing and sore muscles afterwards, but none of that bothers me as much when I'm having fun and gettin groovy.

  15. "Most exercise is not enjoyable because I'm so out of shape"

    This, this is the main demotivator for me, especially how uncomfortable I am about that showing, in terms of bits jiggling, zero endurance and me being clearly a beginner at whatever I'd choose to do… Which, I am aware, is a totally self-defeating circle. The Sport England video below is brilliant for inspiration to short circuit that loop and as a refreshing alternative to the utter domination of fit, smaller and abled bodies we are usually shown doing sport and exercise….. look at all these fabulous women enjoying their amazing, sweating, hard-working and sometimes gloriously jiggling bodies!

    For years I have struggled with my feelings about my larger body and am very uncoordinated. I enjoyed some sports at school but mostly it felt like something I couldn’t do or pick up easily (I also can’t pick up choreographed dance steps well, it’s a language I don’t have). Exercise was the only thing anyone (parents, doctors, the whole bloody world) ever responded with in response to my trying to talk about my feeling about my body and frankly it seemed like a punishment. So I felt ashamed for being overweight and ashamed for not liking exercise and shame is never a good or easy place from which to motivate yourself.

    But here’s the thing, I love really long walks or hikes that wear me out and my big strong legs carry me well. I love to dance just doing my own thing on the dance floor and again I have loads of stamina for that when I’m really in the mood. I love love love to swim, I know exactly what to do in the water and the coordination and balance issues are gone although I tend to prefer pretending to be a dolphin more than doing lengths….. So there are things that my body is good at, I am not actually, as I tend to try and tell myself, physical activity averse.

    So my suggestion would be to think of what you already do or enjoy that uses your body, there will be something and remind yourself you are, in part, your body. Maybe then try for an exercise activity that is a step up from that but not yet the kind of thing you’ve tried in the past and not been motivated to continue. So, inspired by the success of recent Pilates classes (the other people are human shaped and the instructions are clear and slow and not barked over a dance track) I am thinking that my next step could be getting a bike and going for bike rides for fun. Future steps could be amping up those bike rides and dolphin impersonation sessions to be a bit more energetic and actually break a sweat! I know for me that starting with a full on excise class where I am jumping around, not knowing what I am doing and feeling embarrassed because I’m red in the face is not going to work; I am unift, I’m not used to activity that makes me out of breath and really work (although I’ll get that way on a dance floor or a hike and love it) and it doesn’t make me lazy or bad to recognise that and build up to it. Punishing myself by making an unfit body pretend it isn't, won't help either…

    You seem very hard on yourself for making excuses, not sticking out the tough beginning part etc, but maybe the activities chosen where not the best ones. Like me, you’ve got nothing to loose by trying it the other way, ie, working up to proper exercise so that when you get there you’ll be exercising because you love your body not because you hate it.

  16. Here are some of the things that work for me and that I have noticed in my own journey to get exercise-
    GYM Put the gym between work and home, if you want to go to the gym after work then you have to directly from work. If I go home I'll take off my bra and then never leave again. If you say you are going to go then you need to go, even if you are just sitting on a recumbent bike peddling slowly, it is about getting into the pattern . Make sure your gym has wifi or good TVs on the machines. I made myself a rule that I can watch as much TV as I want as long as I am on the treadmill. So bring your tablet or phone and stream something fun. Or tune into a podcast. I find that music alone is not enough to keep me engaged and from getting board.
    NOT GYM-Buy a set of free weights so you can exercise at home while watching TV.
    Get an activity tracker and see how much you are moving. If you are competitive then challenge a friend to see who can get the most steps in a day. I enjoyed doing Game On! with my mom and sister, it focuses on overall health and well being not just weight loss.
    WALK everywhere! Carry a basket at the grocery store instead of a cart (if possible) take the stairs, all those things add up to create stamina which make it easier to exercise.
    Notice and celebrate small improvements, were you able to increase the weight you lift? Take another flight of stairs without being winded? Good for you!
    Look at what you are eating. In April I had a chest pain scare and my doc told me to avoid strenuous activities. I started really paying attention to what I was eating, determined to not gain weight and managed to lose weight while not actually being that active.

  17. Oh, PaintingMkay, I feel you! I'm in the same boat. I've actually tried a lot of what is suggested above (except the getting a dog part, because I'm really not a dog person!) and nothing worked for me, which is not to say they don't work for most people.
    Paying for the gym? Yeah, it sucks big time paying for it and not going, but anxiety and other things are stronger.
    I've never felt that "high" you're supposed to get from cardio, even after 2 months of going to the gym 3 times a week with a program prepared by a trainer.
    But the important part is to keep looking for something that will stick. I do get discouraged, but there has to be something that will work.

  18. I have to make it a social thing, either through rec sports clubs or meeting a friend for a class. It is easier for me to challenge myself and stick it out when other people are also working out. And if I am still sore or tired, I feed off of their motivation to show up and push myself. Of course this only worked once I was able to just not give a fuck what I looked like or what other people in the class thought of me. It isn't high school gym class!

    On my own, I have had the best luck by not making it too hard at first when I am getting back into things. If I start too hard too fast, I won't stick with it. And do anything you can to make it less painful, like warming up really well before starting. I can't jog a quarter mile if I try to start running cold. I can't work out in cotton (mentally) so I wear quick dry shirts. Set up a fan if you are working out in your living room to keep you cooler. Anything you can do to make it more comfortable.

    Also make a mental note of how you feel after you work out. I started associating a good workout with a sharp decrease in anxiety. So instead of being restless and fluttering around without accomplishing anything, I know that taking a break to work out is worth the time and effort for me to feel better and be more productive later!

  19. #1) LOVE YOUR BODY
    I can't stress this enough. I have tried and failed so many times it hurts. I went from being a triathlete, horseback rider and soccer player in my youth to not being very active. When I would start to workout, I would beat myself up because I couldn't do what I used to do, making working out impossible. Start being positive with yourself first.
    #2 Don't compare yourself to others
    I am starting to run. I have always wanted to run, but I always compared myself to the people who are running 5k's, half marathons, etc. The more you compare yourself to others makes you feel worthless. Remember, everyone was a beginner at some point.
    #3 have a goal that's small.
    Take a larger goal, make it smaller. Let's say you want to be more active in general. Get a fit bit and focus on steps, say this week I'm going to take the stairs, etc. Smaller goals lead to bigger goals eventually.
    #4 don't think too much about it.
    Make a plan and do it. If you over think it, you won't do it, and it'll make you miserable and that leads to snowballing negativity.

    Good luck!

  20. What's worked well for me has been:

    1) Pick exercise forms you actually enjoy. I love walking, so I do plenty of that just as a form of transportation (I don't drive). I also like strength training. I love the ability to do more and more progressively, and I love being able to see my muscles develop as I progress. I loathe running, so I have not taken up running. You'd be surprised at how much doing body weight squats can get your heart rate up, though, if you do enough of them!

    2) Make it convenient. I don't have to go out of my way to work out, because I work out at home. I don't need to carry workout clothes or anything else with me to work (which, as a non-driver, is a good thing, as I can't just leave it in the car). I don't need to leave the house again after I get home. I don't need to divert from my homeward commute to get to a gym. I've also thought about the idea of joining the gym on the campus where I work, but so far have enjoyed my home workouts.

    3) Keep a record, and consider making it public for accountability. I post my workouts to Facebook. I don't do a lot of bragging, just keep track of my reps and sets and what trouble I had or what variations I tried.

    4) Remind yourself that any time you choose to exercise, it's a victory, even if you don't do as well in your workout as you'd hoped (e.g., fewer reps, or not as high a weight, or not as fast a time, etc.).

    5) REST. First of all, your body needs to rest and recuperate after a workout in order to actually reap the benefits of the workout. Second of all, if you injure yourself or otherwise overdo it during the course of a workout, trying to push yourself to do too much before you've healed will only make that healing take longer, and the workouts will be more miserable. Start up again slowly after an injury. You'll get back to where you were eventually. Be patient with yourself.

  21. I started biking to work as a way to trim up (I haven't actually lost weight, but inches off my belly, hips, and thighs). It works for me because I have to get to work somehow, and biking takes about the same amount of time as riding the bus. It's been great because it combines travel with exercise, and I don't feel like I'm really "spending" time working out. Once I became more adept at biking to work I got a rear seat for my daughter and started biking with her, which is fantastic for family time AND I'm carrying about forty extra pounds 🙂

    I'm also big on home yoga workout dvds, aquafit, and crazy dance parties. Plus stickers as my reward. Lots and lots of stickers.

    • I also bike to work. It's only 10 minutes each way but my co-workers are amazed that I do it all the time. My outlook is a) it's the only regular exercise I get b) finding a park at work is terrible at times & who needs that stress? and c) I get a buzz from smashing stereotypes – every other biker at my work is a slim young male. Fatties Represent!

  22. I joined a gym with a variety of free classes and forced myself to try the different classes until I found some I liked.

    I ended up loving water aerobics which I didn't expect because I'm in my twenties. The classes tend to be full of people just trying to get in shape so being out of shape and starting there isn't that big of deal. The classes are full of people of all shapes and sizes so it's not as intimidating. And most instructors will offer options for health issues like bad knees, etc. In one month of going 4 times a week, I improved from a 25 minute mile to a 15 minute mile, and it never felt like working out.

    Best advice, someone gave me is to schedule it, tell people who you respect and will call you on your bullshit. Start doing some version of exercise once a week, and try different things until you find something that you look forward to doing. It will get you to stop thinking about it as exercise and more like something fun you enjoy doing.

    Another helpful tip was to choose a favorite snack or drink and only allow yourself to have it if you have done some exercise.

  23. What worked for me:
    1. Starting to run on a disused railway line beside my house – I could "learn" to run and get over my embarrassment away from other people.
    2. Getting a dog – I HAVE to take her for walks!
    3. Signing up for races in the future and telling people about them – achievable goals to reach for and I don't want to waste the money!

    You can do it! I couldn't complete CouchTo5K to start with, but now I'm building up to my first half marathon 🙂

  24. Great question; that's something I struggle with myself. I've run long distances in the past, but injuries, getting sick, or just general life tend to get in the way so I feel like I'm starting up a running routine over and over, until the next time something interrupts me and I take time off. Starting is definitely the hardest part. For me, going in the morning usually worked great. At first I did feel sluggish, but it was harder to talk myself out of it when I was already awake early, and nothing else that day had sapped my motivation yet. Even if I go after work, when I get into the mindset of "I should run but I don't feel like it," it helps to just put on my workout clothes and shoes because then I might as well start. Even if I just go one or two miles after that, I still ran.

    Lately, though, I've been really not feeling the running, so I'm getting back into lifting weights. Great things about it are easily seeing my progress, the feeling that I've worked my whole body, and the pleasant soreness the next day. I also want to try an aerial fabrics class and take up yoga again, but haven't yet dropped money on it. Doing something that's so much fun that you can't not go is also key–for example, my mom never seemed to enjoy her workout routine until she joined a karate class years ago. After that she's since joined a local dragon boat racing team, and now she talks about it all the time.

  25. I can so totally relate. I love being fit and the feeling I get after exercising when I am fit, but a few weeks of business/laziness and exercising is painful again and I just give up and enter the vicious circle. I also hate the gym with a passion, and I hate (hate) running.
    What saved me? Joining a sports team. It has to be a serious enough team that you train relatively intensely (so recreational softball with just a Saturday game did not work for me), but also a team that welcomes all levels and won't make you feel awful or stupid for not being awesome at the sport, and usually that means it'll also have a nice social aspect to it to. And, ideally, it needs to be a sport you enjoy playing. Besides the fact that I can run around after a ball for much longer than I can run for the sake of it, it's done wonders for my motivation/routine. The first few training sessions were SO painful, but you're part of the team, you've committed yourself to it and to the other individuals (who, for the most part, are just as tired as you are), and you want to be able to go for a drink with them, so you keep showing up. And it gets easier. The best, I've found, is that it's made me work out on my own in-between practices (unthinkable!) because I know that it'll make the next practice so much easier. I honestly can't believe how much it's motivated me, how much I've stuck to it (I've only missed practice because I was out of town/had to work, never because I didn't feel like it or was lazy) and how fit it has made me. And I've met some fun people along the way!

    • I like the team idea. My struggle is that I don't have an athletic bone in my body, so I don't know where I would fit in. I know I could build up some endurance with time, but it could be pretty embarrassing in the beginning. What types of teams have you joined?

      • I currently play rugby, with a team that plays in a women's league in the area. We train twice a week and have games most weekends. Rugby is a great sport because it requires a wide array of different people with different skills and profile, so there's a place for everyone. It is a full contact sport, though, so it might not appeal to all! I think the important thing, besides finding finding a sport which you enjoy playing (so it feels like fun, not like pain) is to find a team that welcomes beginners. I'm not particularly good, and I definitely was not at all fit when I joined the team and while I felt pretty silly to start with, the team just took me in and coached me and never made me feel bad for not being amazing at the sport, or for being completely out of shape. I think if they had, I would have stopped going.
        I used to play for a co-ed softball team in a recreational league, it was fun but we just had one game at the weekend and nothign during the week, and it didn't really feel like it kept me in shape at all so it didn't solve the problem. I tried soccer too (again in a recreational co-ed league, with some friends) but I just don't enjoy soccer.

  26. First off, find something you can enjoy, or at least not hate, and if you change your mind, that's okay! I was a serious runner for a while. Then I stopped doing that for a year or so because I was getting into dance cardio classes. Then I got tired of those and now am running again, along with getting into biking. Whatever works.

    Also, be okay with abbreviated exercise. If you're struggling on a particular day, tell yourself that you'll just do ten minutes and then you can be done. If you stick to that, hey, you've still had a bit of a workout, but there's also a decent chance that you'll end up working out longer.

  27. I am still trying to figure this out, but what I've learned is that I have to be nice to myself. I can't go from "no exercise" to "walk 30 minutes every day" – it won't work, and I'll just feel unmotivated and depressed. Then I'll exercise less instead of more. So, that's the best advice I can give – set REALLY reasonable goals. I mean really, really reasonable. If you aren't doing any exercise at all, even 10 minutes of walking is a good place to start. Sure, this isn't officially "enough" exercise according to experts, but if that's what lets you get started and keep up a regular exercise routine, then there's nothing wrong with it.

    Also, I'm one of those people who finds exercise terribly boring. But I can trick myself into enjoying exercise if I play DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). Anyone remember that video game (pre-Wii Fit, pre-Kinect, etc) where you jump on a pad with arrows to match with dance steps? I played it way back in the day (was never very good, but it was fun), and recently my partner and I started up again. It's super simple, really fun, and there are a lot of levels (from level 1, which is basically just walking in place, to levels 8-10, which are totally insane). Drawback – you can't really do it at home if you live in an apartment above other people (this is why I hadn't done it for years).

  28. I'm going to preface my comment by saying this:

    "I hate exercise"

    Truly do. I am crazy jealous of people to can maintain their physique and fitness level just by everyday life. Between sitting on the couch and playing video games, or going to do crazy-hard exercise for an hour…I will choose the couch. But I know I need to exercise to maintain my physique and fitness level (or improve it). This is my method…

    SPEND MONEY. I find if I have to shell out money for my fitness, I am more inclined to exercise – because, eff no I'm not wasting my $100. I used to go to Zumba classes, and I loved those. But I've also done bootcamps, pilates, and kickboxing. Currently, I do Orange Theory http://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/. I love it! I joined up after about 9 months of ZERO exercise (besides walking my baby around in the stroller) after I gave birth…and before that…I had done NO strenuous activity since I was about 2-months pregnant. The amazing thing about Orange Theory, is that, while it is one of the hardest and most intense fitness classes I've ever done, it is all done at your own pace. It is a group class, but you work out on your own…you just follow the prompts from the trainer. And everything can be customized for you. You can't use a stationary rower because of back problems? No worries. Can't use the treadmill because of knee problems? No problem. Can't do this particular exercise because of reasons? They work with you. I couldn't run before joining Orange Theory (and I wasn't about to hit the pavement and learn either), but now I can jog for 30min straight. You also get free sessions right off the bat so you can test it out. The trainers bring you in before class to do orientations. And the great thing is it's for all fitness levels. I've been in classes with people ranging from bodybuilders/tri-athletes to people working out for the first time/people trying to lose large amounts of weight. It is a "you do you" type of thing.

    However, I would say avoid gym memberships unless you have booked a trainer or something. Many people sign up for gym memberships (at low monthly payments), go for the first month, and then never return. Gym memberships (for the lazy) only tend to work if you employ the buddy-system…as in…go to the gym with a fitness crazy person.

    Other suggestions I have is to find an exercise or activity that really interests you and dive in. Work out with a friend so you are accountable to exercise. Lastly, NEVER compare yourself to anyone else. It's hard to do (I have to stop myself constantly), but you have to know your limitations as well as your goals. However, that being said, there is nothing wrong with being competitive.

    • I have to agree that Orange theory is pretty cool. As Lauren said it is totally YOUR own pace, which can be done because you wear a heart monitor and you can see how hard you are pushing yourself. Maxing out your heart rate, then maybe you DON'T have to run the entire time. It is very inclusive, my orange theory gym has a wide range of races, ages, mostly women but a good handful of guys. Some people are super skinny, some are athletes, some a pudgy, some are thick but are super muscle-y. Really, no one mold fits all. Plus you can sign up for only one class a week, that's what I do. So you only need to find two hours out of your week to fit in a workout (it is a one hour class but you need to dress up, drive to the location, workout, drive home, shower)

      • Yes because of the heart rate tracking, it makes customizing your workout that much easier. A few classes I had attended had someone who was 7 months pregnant! She just had to monitor her heart rate, and couldn't do certain floor routines. But the amount of inclusiveness at Orange is amazing. I've also found that different times attract different fitness crowds. 4-7pm slots attract the after-work crowd (the most diverse group). 5-7am slots attract fitness buffs & early-risers, mid-day slots attract students, work-from-home/flexible-hour workers and non-workers (or what I like to call, rich people). I've never been to late night classes though.

        I only have to take about 1.5 hours out each day I go to Orange because I live super close to my location. But they also have showers at their locations (which I've used a handful of times).

        OH! And I will also say the trainers/instructors at Orange Theory are amazing. They are motivational (some more than others), but they are all super positive and make you feel like "YEAH I CAN DO THIS", even when you're gasping for breath during a sprint or an intense set of burpees.

  29. I've been there. I've also had my life change and what works for me change. So here's what I've learned as a gal who never really got into being active and would be just as happy to read a book and eat chips:

    1. Think about the schedule you have now and where there are times that it would be convenient to do something active. For me, the options are before work (before 8:30am when I already hate getting up in the morning), at lunch (about an hour, give or take), or after work (which is 4:30 or later when I get stuck or traffic sucks). Or weekends. Do any of those times appeal? Take into account temperature and energy. As I said, I am not an early morning gal but I'm willing to go out and walk at 7:30am on a weekend or day off if it avoids the heat. You may need to shift this around sometimes. I have coworkers who swim at lunch when the pool across the street is open in the summer. I walk at lunch during the week if it isn't too hot, but might do morning or after work if it's too warm.

    2. Make a list of a few options and what you'd like and dislike. I've tried my university gym (included in tuition, crowded, tons of strangers and jocks), Curves (all women, no thinking required, but costs money and timing is an issue), classes (fun, different, scheduled times, expensive sometimes), and walking (technically free, weather-dependent to do it outside). If you have given stuff a try before, be honest about why it didn't work. Has anything changed? Curves used to work great for me but it is less convenient to go, doesn't work as nicely with my schedule, and I'm tired of paying because the money did NOT motivate me enough. The university gym may work better now that it's bigger and they also have a heart clinic attached so you get all sorts of people, but it isn't already paid for in the summer or if I'm taking an online class. Classes are just… no. I do not do well with a schedule like that. Walking is winning although less than it was last year.

    3. Do something special to go with the exercise. Someone mentioned their gym has awesome showers. I like having nice stuff to wear. Not expensive, just nice. I made a deal with myself that if I kept up walking for a month, I could get really good runners. I'm on my second pair after wearing out the first ones. I also save podcasts solely for when I walk. I also bought a Fitbit to help keep track so I know if I sat on my ass all day or got myself moving. It was a bit of a splurge but I still wear it religiously a year later, even if I don't walk. I still know how little or much I've been moving.

    4. Decide if you're a solo or people person when you exercise. This may involve some experiments. I like walking when I don't run into a ton of people. At the gym I want to ignore everyone. But I do enjoy going for a walk with one friend/coworker because we chat about things we enjoy or our lives and we can kinda help one another with motivation.

    5. Take it in bits and remember that tomorrow is always a new day. Seriously, this is super important. If today doesn't work, tomorrow can. Do not let your days off become the excuse. It can be so easy to decide you failed. Nope, not a fail. You just try again tomorrow. Start small. Especially if it feels overwhelming. Maybe you do a trial thing at a gym. Try an open house. Try a single class with a short term. Tonight, park farther away at the grocery store. Use Pomodoro or something to make sure you get up and walk down the hall to grab some water regularly. I started walking slowly when I started, not pushing it too hard. I found a route I liked and stuck with it but if I needed to cut it short, I had ways to do that. Now my fave days are the ones where I have lots of time on a weekend, I get going early, or go in the cool evening, and I can do an hour and a half walk. But I'm also trying Couch2-5k. Maybe it will work, maybe not. But I'll give it a shot.

  30. Thirding the dog!! I have 2 dogs and, though lately I've been trying to stick to a Couch to 5k program,they are what really get me out and moving. My older dog has issues that require her often being walked by herself and my younger dog is only 13 months and FULL of energy, so handling them both myself often results in my spending 2.5 hours moving/walking outside in a day. However, I have heard a couple of horror stories about people getting dogs for the sole purpose of "making" themselves exercise and then ending up just neglecting the dog so it's important to remember everything else that goes along with a pet. For Couch to 5k, I've found the accountability is what's kept me going – I'll tell my husband or best friend that I'm jogging the next day and encourage them to remind me.

  31. Overall, what I can't stress enough, is that you truly LOVE and want to do whatever it is that you are doing. Making yourself do something only goes so far. As many posters have mentioned, often you don't know what it is that you love doing so experiment with different forms of exercise. But also remember it doesn't have to be super complicated, going for a walk right outside your front door is often enough.

    Many of the people I know (and treat as patients), often tell me that their exercise is not just a way to "stay in shape" but also a way to clear their heads. For me personally, I grew up walking with my sisters and mom, walked throughout college, and go for walks just to clear my head. This has translated into going for "walks" ie hikes in the desert which I also love. Other people can clear their head with swimming in the pool, dancing in the kitchen, Zumba classes, bike riding, etc.

    I'd second the poster who said start small and go from there. Head out your door for a 5-10 minute walk. Do that a few times, see how you feel, and decide if you want to keep doing it. Maybe the next time, you'd bike around the block instead.

    And don't feel alone. This is something that *many* people struggle with and are also working out for themselves.

  32. I'm the same way. I'll start working out, and within three weeks, I've given up. I've found a bunch of different options that work for a while, but then I give up again.

    Right now, I'm on week 6, so I've already gone twice as long as normal, and I really don't want to stop. I hired a guy who does training online (http://grangerfitnessanddefense.com), and he's fantastic. He checks in with me every week to make sure I'm doing okay and not going too light or too heavy. He comes up with a bunch of different workouts so I never get bored, and he's the least judge-y trainer I've ever met. If you can afford a few bucks a month, shoot him an email, and he'll probably be able to help keep you motivated.

  33. I used to hate the gym. A LOT. I always claimed I was too busy to make time.

    About a year ago I bought a yearly non-cancellable gym membership. I forced myself to go once a week. I disliked exercising so much that I ended up putting it off until Fridays just before closing because I hadn't honored my weekly commitment – but I still went. I started out doing less than 30 minutes on the elliptical once a week. Some weeks I cheated and only did 15 minutes.

    I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd ever say that I love the gym. But I'm saying it. I LOVE it. It took a year, but now I gladly make time for 45-60 minutes twice a week. I still really like Fridays before closing, when the gym is empty.

    I found that it is important to make time for yourself. Prior to my gym routine, too much of my life was focused on taking care of other people (at work, at home, even walking my dog was about taking care of him.) Now the gym is a time where I get to really focus on myself. I find it very therapeutic.

    Side note: I like to do sudoku puzzles on the elliptical. It's exercising the mind and body at the same time!

    Best of luck finding something that works for you!

  34. I bike everywhere, which really helps fitting exercise in no matter what. That doesn't really feel like a workout anymore (I don't go fast–I have a pretty bike, not a fast one) except for going up hills, though. I do try to fit in yoga-sometimes at a studio, more frequently from youtube, but I've done enough at studios to know how to not injure myself, which is important when working out at home–as well as online pilates or HIIT workouts (some are only 10 min. long and wipe me out). However, I'm not always super motivated to work out at home, so I signed up for aerial classes last year, which weren't cheap (motivating), pretty much required me to be there for my own safety, and had a performance option at the end of the session (also motivating–if I didn't show up to classes, I wouldn't know the moves and would just look stupid up there). Now, I'm at the point where it's not as necessary for me to be there for safety or to know the moves (although still a good idea), but knowing people in my classes is what is currently motivating.

  35. Strength training – you only have to do it twice a week and it only takes about 15-20 minutes at a stretch. I've been using The Power of Ten book. It's super fast and super effective, but there's a lot of bodyweight programs too, my husband has been getting aMAYzing results with bodyweight exercises. Plus, even if you stay fluffy, fluffy with muscle tone looks a lot better than just plain fluffy. I might never lose the extra inches around my middle, but I can move things all day now and that makes me just as happy (I love being capable!)

    My husband and I have been taking care of his parents. We are seeing first hand what happens when you age and are overweight and have no flexibility or strength (his mom has a degenerative thing going on in her spine and rotator cuff, so she can't really do anything about it, but still….. not someplace we want to find ourselves).

  36. I prefer to work out at home mostly (gyms make me anxious) although I do enjoy a good yoga class. So my motivation can't come from the "I've spent money on this I should go" idea. Instead, I try and take it day by day. I tell myself, "I just have to workout today. I can skip the rest of the week, but I just have to do it today". But then I tell myself that everyday. If I concentrate on just working out this one day, just eating healthy this one day, those days usually stack up into weeks and then months. If I look at the weeks plan of workouts I tend to get overwhelmed at how much I have to do and how far I have to go. Even if a workout feels crappy and I feel out of shape I don't worry about how long it's going to take me to get into shape, I just worry about making THIS DAY the best I can. Even if it's slow and I have to take a lot of breaks. Eventually it will form into a habit, working out will seem easier and you won't even have to convince yourself.

  37. I always enjoyed running but could never motivate myself to stick to it. Eventually a friend pushed me to sign up for a half-marathon together. Five years later, I've done five full marathons (something I never, ever thought I would be able to do!), four half marathons, and a few shorter races. Having a race on the calendar gives me a goal to work toward, otherwise I lose interest.

  38. I am all about consistent exercise, even if it means low-impact. Which means you need to find something that makes you happy. I am a little bit of a TRY ANYTHING and EVERYTHING type of person. Some people like the idea of fencing, learning to formally dance, maybe you like weight training, maybe a barre workout. There are so many different forms of exercise.

    The next thing would be just getting a little less lazy. Some people tell me they don't have "time" for certain activities and I just think it is a little bit of wasted calories. SIMPLE things guys. Like making more frequent trips to a compost heap, washing dishes by hand, walking places, kneading dough, playing with your children, etc. Something people would never think of working out can be like gardening, cleaning the house, raking the leaves, etc.

    My last tip can work if your significant other and housemates don't mind you doing this- working out during commercial breaks. I mean small things. Like lets say you like to garden but your back hurts, so you want to strengthen your back muscles. Well you can pick up weights during the commercial break and pick exercises that help your back. Do as many reps as you can do in one commercial, then switch to another exercise, repeat until your show is back on.

    And always remember things take time. Try not to think "I HATE THIS I'M NOT CUT OUT FOR THIS!" because you will NEVER love working out. I tried to go into the exercise world with an open mind, but I held onto the idea of us versus them. Then it clicked that there isn't me versus them, just doing what works for me. Then the endorphines started to kick in and breaking a sweat was nice. Then I would get antsy watching TV, etc, etc. And now I am trying to find the time to run an hour or more at a time. I would never of guessed that in high school.

  39. I had noticed how much knowing my MBTI explained how I relate to others and chose my career, and it got me wondering if it would also explain why I was more successful with some exercise regimens more than others. I googled MBTI exercise and read an article below and it made total sense. I am very goal oriented and like running, climbing, swimming etc, but it's be hard for me to get out and exercise unless I had a partner (I'm an ENFJ, or "purple") . Once I realized that, I found partners for climbing, running and a new sport Aerials, and have been way more consistent! It also helped me recognize that my husband works out best in a different setting, so I'm no longer waiting on him to be my exercise partner (he's an INTJ, or white, and once I got a rowing machine and pullup station in front of the TV, he also became way more consistent with his exercise!). It also helped me be less frustrated when certain popular exercise advice didn't work for me; it just wasn't geared to my personality type!

    Article: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/your-fitness-personality.html
    Original book and quiz: http://the8colorsoffitness.com/the-8-colors/

    • Very interesting! I'm an INFJ, and I'm certain that plays a role in my exercise needs. The problem with solo activities is the lack of accountability. I think I need to dip a toe into another color because I think other people might be a motivator for me.

  40. Stop trying to work out and just get out more! The gym gives me massive anxiety. I stress over getting there on time, I stress about the time I have for childcare, I worry I'm not doing the moves right, I worry how I look and that people are going to make fun of me, and my head and heart fill with sadness from watching the news above the treadmills. I just can't handle it.

    So, instead, I got a FitBit and started getting out of the house more. I make it a point to do things where we walk more and drive less. I park further away from the entrances of stores. I just add little bits into my life until exercise is a part of it naturally.

    I've noticed the biggest difference in my son. He's three and can now walk several miles during an outing without complaint. Just a few months ago, when we'd drive and use the stroller for everything, he could barely do 3-5 blocks before crying and asking to be carried. Today he did more than two miles at the Zoo and was still good to go for a lunch excursion that required 10 blocks round-trip walking. My stamina has also improved in a major way and the occasional visit with the scale tells me that weight is headed in the right direction.

  41. I…don't push myself hard enough working out on my own to make any noteworthy changes. I have to spend the money to go to a class to have someone else push me beyond my own barriers. I went all in and did crossfit bootcamp classes for a while. Oh my dog do I hate/love them. Holy hell. Every class is different so I didn't get bored doing the same thing over and over, but the activities came around often enough that I could tell my abilities were improving. After months of bootcamp I switched to regular crossfit and that shit kicked my ass to christmas and back. Sadly I couldn't afford it after a job change and had to stop going. I'm not a member of the crossfit cult, I did a lot of lifting before joining that gym, it is a good way to get in, learn how hard you CAN push yourself while learning form, so that you can apply the principles of the workout structure to your own workouts. I…don't push myself hard enough working out on my own, I need a coach.

    I told my doctor about having to stop crossfit, she encouraged me to get a speed jump rope because it's a good and cheap way in to overall fitness. It's an agility skill learning activity, it activates all the big muscle groups to perform, including your heart, you can push your endurance, you don't have to go anywhere to do it, weather won't prevent you from achieving goals blah blah blah $10-15 for an adjustable speed-rope and you're in. It's hard! It's taken me a long, long time to be able to sustain continuous jumping.

    • Someone mentioned to me that sometimes Crossfit Gyms have special programs that they give you free classes or free access to the gym if you help clean up the gym x amount of times a week. I am not sure if it just certain gyms or what. But when I did Crossfit what I liked about it was the sense of community, so I can see why some people love it. I am doing some Orange theory and it is pretty much workout and get out mentality. And I am fine with that too.

      That speed jump rope sounds fun! I should check that out.

      • The gyms are "branded" rather than franchised or a chain, and they are owner operated, so an individual gym may have sweet deals like that.

  42. For the first time in my life I have recently started to attempt to get fit. Like you, I'm horribly unfit and hate most forms of exercise. My motivations have been:

    1. My lifestyle change since having a child has caused me to be fat and flabby. My muscles yearn to be used.

    2. Several friends of mine are in a similar position, so even though we can't exercise together, it gives us accountability. Peer pressure and all that.

    3. I'm going on vacation later this year and want very much to be fit(ish) for it. I found a post on a board online about people wanting the exact same thing, so we're all trying to support each other. It's nice to be able to brag that, "I went for a walk today!" and have other people cheer you on.

    4. My husband, who is a runner, assures me that the painful heart-pounding-out-of-your-chest feeling you get from cardio actually does go away as you get in better shape. This is huge for me, as it has been my main motivation for NOT exercising.

    Good luck, I know you can do it!

  43. This is where I'm at. Exercising doesn't give me that high everyone talks about, it just makes me feel bad about myself. I don't get encouraged that I'll get better at something, I get discouraged at the level I'm currently at. I have no motivation to work out in part because I HATE that exercise exhaustion and spot of self loathing. I would love to be happy and active instead of miserable and active, so for now I'm content with happy and fat. There are some active things I think I'd enjoy but they cost $$ and that's not something I'm comfortable spending on right now. Tips for people who loathe exercise and also don't have spare money would be great. :/

    • My advice is to ignore the word "exercise." Unfortunately our society loves putting physical activities in their own categories, as apposed to just listing it as basic everyday functions. There are two ways you can look at working out if you don't like it.

      1) Make it a game
      I assume you don't like playing sports, but everyone has a little competitive bone. There are wii games that are used to workout, I loved EA Sports Active which had metals you can earn the more you worked out. If you are the type of person who tries to earn ALL the trophies and collects everything in a video game, this might be something to take a look at. FitBit and monitors are great for this sort of game making as well.

      2) Find something you like, then make it active
      As I mentioned we think of exercise as something to be separate from life, and that gives this whole "exercise isn't fun" mentality. But think about things you like- gardening? Well, that is kind-of a physical activity. Like art? Maybe you try visiting more sculpture gardens where you have to walk more. Like animals? Why not try taking up horse back riding or walking your dog more, or even try taking up a hobbie like bird watching that gets you out in the wild. Big foodie? Try walking to restaurants or going to a downtown where you have to walk around first before sitting down to eat. Simple acts like standing can boost your metabolism as well. So maybe you try and standing instead of sitting when you do crafts.

    • I feel you. There are a lot of responses in this thread (I'm still reading through them all!). If even just one of them makes sense it might be the tipping point. I'm willing to keep trying, because I only lose by giving up before I start. It would be nice if there were more classes and activities out there that were specifically geared toward people who are out of shape. I'm sure they are out there, but it probably depends heavily on where you live. No where do I ever see classes like "Yoga for slow people" (that isn't restorative), or "Boot Camp for people who can barely make it to the car". It sounds funny, but my guess is that it would draw a big crowd. One big hurdle for me is feeling so out of shape to begin with that exercise can be embarrassing and feel shaming (even when it's not). But I need to find something that works for where I am now, not where I could be if I were already in shape.

      • It is stupid but the type of classes you want are usually called "low-impact" It is a totally annoying name since the fitness realm has the tendency to come up with several names for the same thing.

        I also know there is a big movement for "plus size" exercise. The message isn't "your fat and need to loose weight" but "your fat and your body can do so much." I know Louise Green is a big name, and released a DVD. Her DVD describes the "beginner" stuff as "Just starting out, very overweight or haven't exercised in over six months." I have no idea how hard or easy it actually is, and it isn't JUST for plus-size women. I find that working out at home is a great place to start if you feel embarrassed or self-conscious. You shouldn't be, because if anyone is judging you, it's their problem, not yours. I honestly don't think most people judge each other at the gym, well depending on your gym. If you ever get to a gym status, look for one that is cheap and has little frills. You will get the hardcore people who don't get a crap about looking "hawt or not"

        And if you are really out of shape, I recommend always just adding a little to your daily routine. It'll help with stamina. Instead of driving around to find parking close to the grocery store, park further away. Try not leaning on the shopping cart when you push it, walk to your mailbox, stand up and stretch and walk for 2 minutes every so often at work, etc. Think about little things you do to conserve energy everyday and slowly try and break those things.

      • If it helps, I know many fit people are internally cheering on the larger people at the gym. My (fit and would appear to be judging) friends have told me this. I've experienced it as well when I was trying to swim at 8 months pregnant after gaining 60lbs, feeling like a beached whale and spiraled into a negative thought pattern. The people who glances cut deeply, as surely they must think I'm disgusting, actually complimented me for working out. We put *our own* thoughts into other's people's glances. So change what you think when you begin to feel judged. That person may very well be thinking "damn, you go girl."

  44. I was in this boat a little over a year ago. I had put on a lot of weight after losing my dad, just drinking and eating pizza all the time. After getting my diet reasonably in check it was hard to find exercise that I wanted to stick with.

    The thing that clicked with me the most was the "find your fit" mentality. I've always hated the gym and preferred doing things outside and doing team sports. So I got a used bike and started riding it on the local bike path, increasing my distances as I got in better shape. Roller blading too. It's more enjoyable than the gym for me because unless I'm trying to increase my speed, it doesn't really feel like a workout, and it's just a fun and really zen way to spend a beautiful day outside. Finding something fun to do was motivation to do it often, too. I also found an adult soccer league in my city and joined a team. It wasn't until the wintertime that I broke down and got a gym membership because at that point I'd get really antsy if I went a few days without doing something active. And by then I'd gotten into better shape so it didn't feel like quite as much of a chore to use the gym.

    Make it fun however you can! I'm 25 pounds down since starting fun fitness and couldn't be happier with the lifestyle change. Best of luck to you!!

  45. I'm in this place a lot of the time. I'm trying to accept that I'm probably not going to LOVE exercise or see it as an AMAZING way to spend time, no matter what I try or do.

    Two summers ago, my wife and I got ourselves in shape by doing the couch to 5k program, and that was really successful. We ran three days a week to keep up with the program, and even got up really early (this is extraordinary if you've ever met me) to run before it got too hot (makes it less extraordinary, maybe, since one of the things I hate more than early mornings is heat).

    This worked because it had boundaries, was incremental, and produced real improvement without ever exhausting us so completely that we never wanted to move again.

    Since we finished the program, though, it's been harder to stay in the routine. We still run, but not with the same regularity, and months have definitely gone by without any running. The problem is, we don't WANT to add more running– 30 minutes at a go is quite enough and really all we have time for, with stretching, warming up, cooling down, etc., so there isn't another incremental, bounded program to try.

    In the last few weeks, we've been working back to at least two exercise sessions a week (not always running), and for me, it's been very helpful to remind myself that it's fine that I don't really enjoy this, that I'm doing it for myself and the people I love, as a commitment to a healthy body, and that if I don't experience the amazing highs and feelings of awesomeness people describe, that is ok. I can do it grumpily or grudgingly and it still counts as exercise. Also, because I am a very slow runner and a generally non-athletic person, I have to accept that after LOTS of effort and training and work, I will still be slow, and there will still be many people who can start with NO training at all and be faster and better than me. The wonderful thing about exercise (look, I found a wonderful thing!) is that as long as I am working my body intensely, it benefits me– even if the person next to me would not find what I am doing a big workout.

    Anyway, those are some of the things I have done and do think about as a reluctant exerciser to try and make it a) happen and b) a better experience. Good luck to us all!

  46. I used to have a gym membership that I never used. It cost so little to belong to it that financial motivation didn't work on me. What got me up and going to it regularly was Netflix/TV, actually. I'd choose a show that I was starting to get obsessed with and decided I could only watch it if I was on the elliptical or bike at the gym. Worked for me, that's for sure! One to two episodes was a 45-90 minute workout, which was just about right for me.

    In my experience, this works best if you watch a show you've only seen a couple episodes of before, but can tell you're going to get obsessed. If it has a long history or is finished, even better! For me, this ended up being Scandal, Gossip Girl, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. I wouldn't recommend any sort of cooking show because they made my eyes hungry when my stomach wasn't.

    I'd also look into physical activities that are more hobby-like than straight exercisy. Dance or martial arts classes are fun and very physical, which can help with getting fit. Or, see if any gyms in your area offer free classes with registration like mine does. If I don't feel like jogging, I can zumba! Woooo!

  47. 1. http://www.habitrpg.com – I get experience every time I exercise! You make your own rules, then get rewarded nerd-style for following them!
    2. The circumference of my apartment complex is .5 miles. This is a very doable distance for my current ability, so I walk/jog around once to get 15-20 minutes of exercise. The best/worst thing about this is that once you get half-way, you have to finish if you wanna' get home!
    3. I joined a yoga studio very close to home. I love yoga, but I almost never do more than a pose here and there at home, so the financial investment and group accountability motivate me to go a couple times a week!

    Good luck. 🙂

  48. Loved reading all the ideas! This is what got me through writing a dissertation, and it will be helpful if you get sucked into social media, cool blogs, etc instead of getting up and going for a walk. http://www.proginosko.com/leechblock.html. You can set when and how long you can access certain sites, so great for breaking the "addiction"!

  49. To be honest, I got back into working out after my mom died last year. My doctors had always told me that I should exercise for my depression and anxiety, and after she died after a year of terrible cancer treatments, I was finally willing to try anything to get the depression under control. I chose a beautiful path by the ocean and I look at it as a mental health treatment more than a physical thing, and now that I've been doing it for over a year, I'm really happy with my progress, and that alone is motivating now. Maybe it would help others to focus on the mental health benefits. That was the only way I could really get into it, and I continue to focus on the beauty I get to witness on an everyday basis in the world around me.

    • This is huge. I know I feel better when I'm more active, so this was a good reminder that it's not just the physical benefits that are worth the effort.

      • I've found that regular exercise helps with my anxiety and depression, too. Plus I sleep SO much better if I do even 15 minutes of cardio. I think the body and mind are more connected than we realize!

  50. for me it meant..just keep going. i tried every class availiable where i was, resulting in terrifying yoga classes, a lovely stint with a morning exercise class where everybody else was 30 years older than me (and waaay more fit) and a heartfelt desire for a waterproof mp3 player. i discovered i hate running, but once going past the embarrassment, i kinda like nordic walking. i can tell if a teacher works for me during the first class, which is often a free trial, so that has gotten easier to manage.
    and then my husband decided to try "yoga for men". he said, if he´d known yoga would be like this he would have started sooner. so i took a class with the same teacher and it was like nothing i ever experienced in seven years worth of yoga classes.
    i actually go twice a week now, and i look forward to every class. after years of forcing myself to go try yet another way, this is so cool! so yeah, i had to try for a good 10 years but right now: it is working! yay!

  51. You guys! I love all of these ideas, including a few I hadn't considered, and I'll be returning to this thread often to reread all of the wonderful responses. I had a feeling I wasn't the only one feeling stuck, so hopefully this has been helpful for others as well. Now, to try and try again. Big love for the Offbeat community <3

  52. Sometimes you just have to do it. It doesn't matter if you're motivated, it's a mental decision to do what you ultimately want to do. (Pssst, Self, do you hear this????)

    Keep in mind that you're not the only one at the gym (or on the team) that feels awkward!

  53. A few months ago I downloaded a seven-minute workout app. Twenty seconds of exercise, ten seconds of rest; seven minutes of action total. No equipment needed (though I like my Pilates mat for the crunches).
    After a few days I decided to add a few sit-ups on my own, and increased that from five to thirty-five over a few weeks.
    It's seriously the only thing I've been able to stick with, and with the help of a reflective friend, I realized it's because of the "little gold star" reward (which is the reason I'm commenting).
    You get little notifications after the last side plank ( "workout complete, congratulations!", "3 days in a row", "7 days in a row", "before 10:00 am") which are nice. Within the app there's a calendar with a green dot that shows up on days you do the workout. It makes me inordinately happy to see a long row of green dots over the past weeks, and that's what motivates me to do it again and again each day.
    Also, I'm lucky that I don't own a car and can get around via public transport and walking, so that much exercise is built into every single day.
    Other than that, I absolutely second the personal trainer idea. If you can afford it, there's no better way to get that shit done and also to figure out where you personally could improve the most. I worked with a Pilates trainer for five sessions over the winter and I use the principles and positions she taught me every day.
    You got this!

  54. Try all the things! I know there are different options like ClassPass (I have never used it, just heard of it) that will let you try different gyms/studios. I tried pole dance classes 7 years ago when I was out of shape and convinced I could not be in shape. All these years later? I lift weights for fun, pole every week, joined a regular gym which I go to about once a week, and I run. Try lots of different activities with an open mind, and you might be surprised at what you love (I loved pole!) and what you don't like (oh my damn I hated hula hoop class). And good luck. There are some times when I realize it's been a month … or two… or three since I did anything. One commitment that has saved me is interning at a workout studio. I'm there, so I might as well work out…

  55. Ok, here's what worked for me. I got a groupon for classes at my local gym. When I found a class I liked ( ZUMBA!), I kept going… and eventually became friends with some of the other women there, which became even more incentive for me to go each week ( socializing before or after class). I joined when the groupon ran out and I've been going to that class consistently for 3 years now, and it has motivated me to keep working out in other ways and to try other classes. Now I work out at least 3 times a week and I try to always do fun stuff so it doesn't feel like a chore

  56. As a kid I was VERY active, at 12 I broke a vertebra in my back and being active was a thing of the past. In my later teens I started working out at home but once I started working a very physically demanding job working out wasn't necessary anymore. Fast forward a few years, 2 serious motorcycle accidents, depression and a boat load of stress later and I've become a very comfortable couch potato who woks a completely sedentary job.

    I weigh more than I care to confess to and my fitness level is in the negatives. I've decided to get into shape or at least get fitter than I am now. The one thing nobody ever tells you about their fitness/weightloss turnaround journey is just how damn hard it is in the first few months. Nobody tells you that for at least the first week or 2 you're going to ache in places you didn't know you have places, that you're going to be so tired all the time, that getting up super early in the morning is going to be utter murder and that one day your workout will go perfectly fine and 2 days later you'll not even make it half way through before your body and the voice in your head are double teaming you, begging you to give up and go cry in the shower. The first 3 to 4 months will be the hardest and if you're a couch potato like me, any time you get sick and can't work out will lead to those first 2 weeks all over again when you finally get back into the gym.

    My personal tips would be:

    1) Realistic and increment goals. While it's good to have an overall goal in mind, set your weightloss/fitness goals in increments and also realistically so that you don't get discouraged by how far it seems you have to go or when you don't reach an unobtainable goal within the time you've given yourself to reach it. If you want to be able to run 6 miles without collapsing but you can't make it half a mile without looking and sounding as though someone should call the paramedics (ie the way I did) then set smaller, more easily obtainable goals like 1 mile, then 2 and so forth. Focus on these short term and more easily obtainable goals on your way to your overall goals to keep from getting discouraged.

    2) Celebrate every goal you reach to keep your spirits up, all work and no play make fitness and exercise very dull.

    3) Keep track of your progress with pictures or an exercise log so that you can see how far you've come to keep you motivated to keep pushing further.

    4) Workout buddy. Someone who will hold you accountable, who will help motivate and encourage you. It's not as easy to give up or cheat/skip workouts if you have someone else who won't be fooled by weak excuses and staying motivated will be a little bit easier if you have someone to speak words of encouragement when things get tough.

    5) Gym membership. Paying for a gym membership, especially a 2 year contract which you can't get out of, will be a financial motivation to keep working out as opposed to wasting the money by not going. Another perk of going to the gym is that (especially during off-peak hours) there are going to be other unfit, out of shape people going through the same self betterment journey as you are and just seeing other people in your own situation slogging it out alongside you can be very motivating.

    Finally, it's hard getting in shape and staying there. There will come a time when you'll fall off the wagon, maybe it will be a few days, a few weeks, but even if you derail for a few months, getting back on track is always an option. Don't see these times as failures, as hard as that may be. Setbacks happen to the best of us and it's not failure as long as you get back on track and don't give up completely.

  57. Generally, I suck at exercise too. I go through more active periods of time, but don't generally stick to anything. But I've become a little more consistently active in the past few years, thanks to consciously recognising that activity helps my anxiety/depression. So I've been thinking about this since I saw this post, and here's what has helped me.

    (1) The Non-Zero Principle
    I do not work out every day. Not even close. But I do try to make sure I have no zero-activity days, because if I do, then I know I will start having anxiety attacks and feel rubbishy. So I fit something in every single day. I'm lucky to be able to walk a mile to work and back, so that sorts me out most days. Otherwise, a ten-minute walk is good, especially if you can convince yourself you need milk or similar. If I can't even manage that, a ten-minute youtube workout helps me. I usually use these:

    (2) The In-The-Mood Principle
    So, I try to stick to the Non-Zero Principle even when I'm not in the mood. But the flip side is – when I'm in the mood, I go for it. If I'm feeling frustrated or anxious and feel like running round the block really fast would help with that feeling, I go for it. If I want a ten-minute walk before bed, I don't think "meh, I'll do it tomorrow" – I go for it. Otherwise the feeling of wanting some activity will probably wear off and be replaced with chips. 🙂

    (3) The Optimisation Principle
    I try to keep a pair of gym shoes / old clothes / shower stuff anywhere I might want to go exercise. If you're not sure whether you'll go to the gym from work or home, keep supplies in both places – so that when the mood strikes, you can just go for it. This is less relevant to me now I mostly exercise to/from home, but have a think whether this could help you.

    (4) The Recording Principle
    I use MyFitnessPal to record food and exercise, not because I'm trying to lose weight, but because staying thoughtful about my health makes my behaviour better. I record with no judgement – it's just an honest record, for myself, not a stick to beat myself with. A good tool if you can get into it.

    (5) The Phoebe Principle
    Via "Friends". Going for a short run really helps me. But why should it be boring? If I want to sprint like a maniac to the next lamp post, why not? If I want to jump around and look crazy, who cares? (Obviously warm up and stretch first, and be aware of your limits. But otherwise, do what you feel like.)

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