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

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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?

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

  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!

    • 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.

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