Seeking motivation to exercise

In fifteen minutes, I am headed over to the gym to meet my trainer, Tabor.  I really like him.  He’s not quite thirty, very even tempered, and madly in love with his wife and hiking.  He’s an all around good guy and I do love how much stronger and fitter I am.

But all day, I’ve been dreading my appointment. I’ve been dreading most of them for the past few weeks. My energy is low–September was a lot of travel and teaching and I’m tired. I have a deadline of November 15 and the book is not at all where I want it to be.  I’m chaining myself to the computer so much that also forcing myself to go to the gym is really hard.

I have been seeing a trainer at least twice a week for more than a year now, since August 2011.  You’d think I’d be super buff and thin.  I’m not.  I have, however, stopped gaining (a gift of midlife) and have even dropped a very small amount of fat.  If I flex, you can see my muscles, my biceps and my quads and the ones that tickle me a lot: my back and chest.  This all makes me stronger.  I get that. It will help keep me from becoming a frail old woman.

I also gave up meat over a year ago, and I’m struggling a bit with that, which will go in another blog.

What I would really like to do is take a week off from everything.  No travel, no exercise, no writing or blogs, no heavy gardening, no major household repairs, nothing.  Just a week of puttering and playing, wandering into a book or a shop or off to lunch with a friend or to a movie.  Sleeping a lot. Reading a lot.  Doing nothing a lot.

Unfortunately, the book must be finished.  To finish it, I have to stay healthy and strong, and that means I go to the gym.  Even if it doesn’t make me thin.  Even if I often do not look forward to it. Even if it strains my willpower in other ways.

Do you have any tips? What do you do to get yourself moving when you don’t want to exercise? 

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12 thoughts on “Seeking motivation to exercise

  1. The only thing that works for me (I try to drag myself to Curves three times a week) is to focus on how good I feel AFTER I’m done. It always gives me a boost in my energy and I feel better about myself and the world. The key for me was to find an exercise that I liked doing – I hate to run, I hate heavy impact, lifting, having someone telling me what to do, etc. So I opted for Curves, where I can do a work-out in 30 minutes and get cardio AND strength-training. I no longer dread going to exercise now.

  2. Change the kind of exercise you do every now and then. Dance. No, DANCE! Put on your favorite music from when you were a teen and dance your bum off for half an hour in your own living room — the sillier the moves the better. There is nothing better than dancing and laughing. Well there is — and that’s exercise, too. :) The trouble with so much exercise is that it’s so earnest and grim and all no-pain-no-gain. Pooh to that. I say have some fun and make it a treat, not a chore.

  3. Mel

    If you find the magic answer, let me know. Have completely lost all semblance of a exercise routine since I broke my ankle. Which happened nearly a year ago but I just can’t quite get it together. Part of it is worry about hurting myself again but not sure what the overall problem is. Sigh. Need an answer before I do something silly like buy a dog so I have to walk it!

  4. I dance in my basement and do some strength-building stuff afterwards. I use the music to get me going. I have hundreds of songs on the Ipod and vary it a lot. Right now I’m listening to 80’s punk stuff: Blondie, Flock of Seagulls, Adam Ant. Having something new and different to listen to really helps me get into it.

  5. stephanie

    I don’t have the answer but I’m good at processing the problem. Of course, since I haven’t been to yoga in 6 weeks and have only made it to the gym once a week, on average, I need to figure out the next steps for myself, too. Some days just showing up is enough, but it’s not enough to keep us moving toward a new goal.

    I saw a great quote recently on twitter. The difference between a goal and a dream is a date. That’s what I’m going to do now – give myself short-term goals and make sure that I work the goal and check my progress. Accountability might be needed since I’m so great at setting personal goals.

  6. All good thoughts. Really. Anne & Mary, I have often been a dancer, and need to remember to add that in. I also haven’t been doing any long, long walks, which I love.

    Mel, that’s a challenge, because you had the injury and it was painful and now you have the fear as well as the overall reluctance a lot of us feel for getting out there. Maybe if you write, “What am I afraid of?” twelve times and answer until you have it all out there? You probably have some PTSD.

    Stephanie, I love that, the date. I am going to try that, too. I invited my d-i-l to go to yoga with me tonight. We both would find it relaxing, I’m sure.

  7. Pascale

    I really do not like to exercise. I have spend thousands of dollars on gyms that I never visited. Then, about 5 years ago, I joined Equinox, which in my opinion is the RITZ CARLTON of gyms. I dabbled in going, but then discovered several teachers/classes that I liked.
    Due to some injury which I cannot remember, I had to find something new at the gym, and that was spinning. It is so hard,and I NEVER want to go. However, I go 4-5 times a week. It is one hour of sweat and pain. But I keep doing it. Why I do it is simple:1) I have to BOOK my bike 26 hours in advance (a committment, that I have trouble going back on) 2) the teachers are great, smart, funny, hard and play great music 3) spinning is no impact: my bad back, bad knees and bad ankle all do JUST fine with it.

    I used regular sneakers the first 6 months of spinning, though I really wanted the clip spin shoes. However, I had to prove that I was committed (just prove it to my self). I have graduated from loose pants and tshirts to a lululemon wardrobe (small, but I find it inspiring to wear those tanks). I have NOT lost weight, even though on a good day I can burn 600 calories (WOW!!!), but like you said Barbara, I have stopped gaining.

    For a while my family actually thought I was obsessed with spinning (true, but only because I couldnt believe … and still cant) that I could do something so very demanding and keep a smile on my face AND keep going back.

    So, I suggest trying spinning. You might be surprised. Good luck to you.

  8. Pascale

    One more thing: last year (or maybe 2010), Cooking Light magazine did a monthly series about a different gym exercise format. One month was Zumba, the next spinning and then maybe a barre class. I really found that series inspiring. It made me understand what goes into each format and I was less afraid to try something new. I really suggest you look into that. If you cannto find it, email me and I will send you links, since I have all the magazines and can find the web sites. TAke care!

  9. New reader here, I know what you mean… I just had my second baby two months ago, we just moved across country and I, too, have a strict deadline for my MS to be completed by the end of November (could we be twins? ha.) I really need to loose this “leftover belly”. I would suggest giving yourself a treat. Maybe buy or make yourself a special granola bar or smoothie or post work-out snack. ONLY eat this post-workout. Have some nice gym clothes laid out before you go or packed and ready at the door. Remind yourself of your treat before you go-maybe a soak in the tub? Maybe that granola bar? And that by doing this hard thing, you are strengthening your mind and body.
    Good luck! Let us know if anything works!

  10. I set up rewards along with any goal I plan, and I focus on rewards I really want and/or that I don’t normally have time for. I try to scale them to the task, too, such as finishing my day’s planned work earns me a book I’m dying to read, while wrapping up a novel gets me a day trip with the family to the beach. One of my favorite large-scale rewards is to spend an entire day doing only what I feel like doing (sewing, trying a new recipe, trips to the library and bookstore, or just hanging out with the pups.)

    I finally had to give up sugar entirely this year, and at first I was miserable. I’d rather be cranky than diabetic with dentures, however, so I stuck with it. I was going to let myself have one sugary treat this Christmas as a prize if I stayed on plan, but the forty pounds I’ve lost since March (without changing my eating habits or doing anything else differently) has turned out to be the surprise big reward. I also have more energy, I don’t have to take a nap in the afternoon, and my knees feel like they’re brand-new. Much as I still miss sugar, I like what not having it in my diet does much more.

  11. Urk. I responded earlier and the program ate my replies. Lynn, bravo for the big weight loss! That’s great. I love the idea of the large scale rewards, free days. At the moment, that’s not a possibility, but soon, soon.

    Pascale, the clothing rewards are an especially good reward for me, too. I keep telling myself I can get some Zumba shoes and haven’t done it.

    Jenna, welcome! And I would say that your road is a lot more challenging than mine. A new baby is a lot on your plate, just that, not to mention deadlines. You are superwoman!

  12. To Barbara, my favorite author :) — the ONLY thing that has kept me consistent in exercising 3 x a week is Zumba dancing in a class. Any class leader + Zumba music + other fellow exercisers = inspired regular exercise so far for 2 months! Best wishes to you in all things!

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