by Irene Rubaum-Keller
Originally published in Strive magazine
You know the feeling. You told yourself you would work out tomorrow. It’s tomorrow. How do you
motivate yourself to work out when you just don’t feel like it? Try these tips:
1) Play out the scene in your head. When you are having the talk with yourself about whether or not
to work out, play these scenes in your head. Scene One: You’ve just finished a really great work out.
You’re sweaty, relaxed and feeling great about yourself. Scene Two: You’re still sitting on the couch.
Imagine the candy and chips wrappers on the table. How are you feeling about yourself now?
2) Imagine running into an old boyfriend/girlfriend. Enough said.
3) Sign up for a 5K or 10K walk/run for charity. There are events like these almost every weekend. You’ll have a target
date in mind and won’t be as likely to put off working out if you need to be in shape to finish the race. You’ll also be doing
something great for others.
4) Try negative reinforcement. Some (not all) people respond better to the negative than the positive. For example, I have a
client who will come home from work, plop himself on the couch and begin this inner dialogue: “There you sit like Jabba the
Hut. Are you going to waddle out there and get yourself in shape, or are you going to sit there, like Jabba, getting bigger and
5) Photos can be helpful. I actually cut out a picture of my head and put it on a picture of Christy Brinkley's bikini clad body running down the
beach. For those who are motivated by the negative, you can put your head on an obese body. A picture of yourself at a size you like might also work.
These photos should be where you'll see them often. The bathroom mirror and the refrigerator are good places.
6) Play the sportscasters in your head. This one is for when you've started working out and just want to quit. Imagine you're an athlete and you're
competing. The sportscasters are reporting on your performance. Mine say something like this: "Wow, Bob, look at her go. You know she's always
had good form but I've never seen her quite like this." "I agree, Jim. She's at the top of her game today. Listen to the crowd go wild. I think she might
just take this race."
7) Take responsibility for your own choices. Every day you make choices that either contribute to your health and well being, or take away from it.
Get honest with yourself. Instead of blaming other people, or circumstances, for not working out, tell yourself the truth. Once you accept that you and
only you are responsible, you can look more closely at why you make the choices you do. Maybe the truth is you just don't want to be in shape as
much as you want to watch TV or read a magazine. Perhaps you've been trying to conform to someone else's idea of an ideal workout instead of
allowing yourself to accept your own exercise style. Maybe you haven't been willing to admit to yourself that you need help from a personal trainer
or lifestyle coach. As they say in the X-Files, the truth is out there... and it can free you to be more fit and active than ever before.
8) Think of the people who love you. Some people think taking time out for exercise and self-care is selfish and somehow wrong. But you are of
more good to the people who love you if you are healthy and live a nice long life. We walk our dogs, after all. It's amazing how many people behave
as if exercise is a self-indulgent luxury that could get in the way of their other responsibilities, when, in reality, it can only enhance their ability to
meet obligations to themselves and their loved ones. If you can't motivate yourself to do it for you, do it for them.
9) Buy some new workout clothes or gear. This one works temporarily but it may be just the thing to get you started, or help you re-establish your
10) Plan it now. If you wait for just the right time, a year or more could go by and it will be that much harder to get back on track. Pick a date, time,
activity and plan for it. Put it in your day planner. Inform your friends, family or co-workers or get them to join you. Remember, there's no such thing
as not enough. Even if you plan to walk for two minutes a day at lunchtime, that's a start! It takes about six months of regular working out for
exercise to become firmly incorporated into your life. Once you get past the first six months, only injury or illness will keep you from your workout.
Being fit is the best feeling there is. Since our bodies are the only things connecting us to the planet, it's worth the effort!
© Irene Rubaum-Keller 2010 - 2013
"Every day you
make choices that
to your health and
well being, or take
away from it.
Get honest with
of blaming other
not working out,
tell yourself the