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. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Sign up for Ingress. I’ve never been more motivated to go out and walk in my life.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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”
        http://www.louisegreen.ca/
        http://www.collagevideo.com/products/plus-size-workout-cardio-and-weight-training-with-louise-green

        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.”

  20. 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!!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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. 🙂

  24. 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”!

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