Monday, February 7, 2011

A Body at Rest, Stays at Rest. Maybe.

I've always found it difficult to exercise. Not the act itself. The part where I put down the remote, lace up my sneakers and commit myself to half an hour of sweating. Despite sometimes even enjoying the sweating part, inertia is my main hurdle. At those times when standing up seems a physical impossibility, I pull out my bag of motivational tricks.

Cute Clothes: As little as five minutes of Sex and the City is usually enough to remind me how much I'd like to wear strapless dresses or high waisted jeans and that my fatty armpits and tummy pooch are the only things standing in my way.

Red Checks: Every night that I exercise, I put a red check on the calendar. The satisfaction I get from that is worth more than an endorphin buzz to me. Even though I didn't quite meet my goal at the end of January, seeing that army of little red checks helped me see how far I had come.

Variety: Most of the time, instead of putting on the same old Windsor Pilates video that I've had since college, I pick a new OnDemand exercise video. It keeps me from copping out on the basis of boredom or anticipating particularly painful moves (ya know, that ones that are actually good for you). As a fringe benefit, the range of moves keeps my muscles from getting used to a particular function. I'm an ab-crunchin', kick-boxin', disco-dancin' fiend.

Bad Photos: I may be one of the few women on earth with a mental body image that is actual skinnier than the one in the mirror. Sometimes my chubbiness even surprises me when I see my reflection because I would SWEAR I'm thinner than that. While that's all well and good for the psyche, it's not very helpful for motivation. A little vanity goes a long way here. When I'm really stuck in the doldrums, I refer to my absolute least favorite photos which turn the tables and make me look heavier than I actually am. The idea of another double-chin picture is enough to send me running… anywhere, so long as I'm running.

Self: I keep tabs on Self magazine to remind myself that exercising isn't just about looking less jiggly in a bathing suit. It's also about keeping my insidey bits in working condition. When I'm not picking up a copy, I poke around their website and follow a few of their blogs for a reminder that I owe it to my future self to take care of this. (You couldn't see it but I just did that up and down hand wiggle in front of my body).

Blogging: Publicly announcing that I actually have a goal has been immensely helpful as a last resort motivator. When none of the behind the scenes tools work, I think about how I don't want to admit that I didn't exercise as much as I said I would. The thought of broadcasting abject failure has gotten me moving more than once in the past month.

Of course, sometimes nothing is enough to get me moving. Mondays, for example, are miserable enough without adding another obligation so I've declared them my only devoted non-exercise day. The rest of the week is open season though. So, what motivates you?


  1. I used to find it difficult to exercise consistently. I would be good for a week or two and then take a week or two off, making it harder to get back into it. But I signed up for the Women's Health Daily Dose emails and they've motivated me in several ways. It took a few weeks of pushing myself, but now I kinda feel gross not working out. After skipping two days, I want to get back into it.

    I have a separate calendar where I "log" my exercising. Pretty much just put an X on the days I don't work out, so when I see a few lined up, I know I need to get in gear. That was actually a tip from Women's Health.

    And these past two weeks, I've been waking up early to exercise. I feel like a mad woman waking up before 6 just to sweat, but it feels great when I'm done. And actually keeps your energy up throughout the day. It also prevents you from skipping a workout when you've had a hard day and don't feel like doing anything.

    And apparently drinking chocolate milk post workout helps rebuild your muscles quicker, while satisfying, albiet slightly, your sweet tooth.

  2. Good tip! I've already gotten sick of Self so I just signed up for Women's Health Daily Doses instead.

  3. A guiltless pint of Ben & Jerry's motivates me!