One of the toughest parts about working out and getting in shape has nothing to do with barbells or dumbbells, push-ups or sit-ups, crunches or planks, burpees or lunges.

Nope, arguably the toughest part about working out is simply showing up.

I first wrote this column for one of the local newspapers a while back, and as I sat there at my laptop, it was just after 1:30 in the afternoon, and for reasons I don’t remember anymore, I was having a stressful day.

I had pole vaulting practice that night at 6, and those little voices inside my head were trying to talk me out of it. Telling me how tired I was. How I don’t feel like working out today. How nice it would be just to stay home, kick off my shoes, and vegetate on the couch.

Wouldn’t it be niiiiiice …

Here’s the rest of what I wrote:

I’m learning, however, not to give in to those little voices. I don’t know what they are or where they come from, but I do know that a heckuva lot of people have them.

The problem is too many people, including me, give in to those little negative voices. I don’t understand it, but there is something inside me, some strange little something in there that apparently wants to keep me down. Hold me back.

And when it comes to something like working out, going to the gym, or working out at home, giving in to those little voices one day makes it all too easy to give in again the next day, then the next, and then the next. Pretty soon, you haven’t hit a lick in weeks, maybe months.

Ya gotta push through it.

Most of the time, even when you think you’re too tired to get your workout in, once you get started and the ol’ blood starts pumping, you’ll forget all about being too tired. And when you finish, I can almost guarantee you’ll be proud of yourself, feeling good, and glad you got it done.

Here are a few ways to motivate yourself when you’re feeling unmotivated:

  • Think about how getting in a good workout makes you feel: remember the last time you didn’t want to exercise, but you did it anyway? Felt good, didn’t it? Chances are, the same thing will happen again. My workouts at the gym, for example, always start with 10 to 20 minutes on the stationary bike, sometimes just to warm up and sometimes doing speed intervals for a little leg workout. No matter how I feel when I start, whether I want to go to the gym or not, by the time I finish that and head back to the free weights area, I’m ready to go.
  • Keep it short: a little bit of a workout is better than nothing. Stick to whatever schedule you set for yourself – three days a week, four, five. Remember, missing one day often leads to two. Two leads to three, and so on. It’s a lot easier to fall out of a habit than it is to get into one. Believe me, I’ve been there.
  • Set small, challenging but attainable goals for each workout: walk a little longer or a little faster on the treadmill than the time before, or another five minutes around the block; crank out one more set of squats at the gym. One thing I like to do is, every time I work out with weights, up the intensity level on at least one exercise. Do a few more repetitions than the last workout, or add five pounds to that last set. Do just a little bit more than you did the previous session.

Getting in shape and staying there takes work, plain and simple. It requires time, commitment, and discipline. There’s no magic to it.

If it were easy, everyone would be fit and trim, healthy and happy, right?


You can do it!