How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

All right. I’m just going to come right out and say it. Exercising on purpose stinks.
It’s one thing to be twelve years old and spend all your time racing hyperactively from one activity to the next because your body is full of burgeoning hormones designed to make you attractive to the opposite sex, and half of you thinks that’s really gross so you deplete your body fat running away from it.

It’s another to have grown up, put a husband through college, driven 4,000 miles a month in the process, have pushed several little people out of a body-compartment that surely was not designed to have them in there in the first place, spent decades being supportive and self-sacrificing, and doing things like making peanut butter sandwiches and attending your 4,323rd band concert instead of giving business presentations to CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, and George Clooney. Your poor metabolism can’t hack all that stress. It gets exhausted. It wants to just sit down in a little folding beach-chair, drink Shirley Temples, read a little Ludlum, listen to a kickin’ playlist (heavy on the Bublé), and top it off with Chocolate Lava Cake.

Sounds like heaven to me.

Sounds like a meeting of the thighs to my body.

Comes a time when you can’t rely on a “fast metabolism,” stress, or any other external factor to keep your delusions of fitness wrapped around you. Pack on enough years and experience, and every support holding up your hose eventually gives out. You gotta do something about your rising blood pressure and the fact that you can’t afford a new wardrobe.

I hate that. I’m tired. i don’t wanna.

But I gotta. And here’s how I’m trying to do it. Based on a WHOLE LOT of avoidance technique and sad experience. But first, cultivate a positive attitude. It isn’t about looking like your 18 year-old self again, it’s about quality of life. And I believe that. Abso-FREAKIN’-lutely:


How to Motivate yourself to Exercise

1. Wake up one bright sunny morning, look at yourself in the mirror and see Ernest Borgnine staring back.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Mr. Borgnine. In fact, the man looks amazing. For a 94 year old.

2. Note that you are not 94.

3. Go to the mirror and turn sideways. Find that you look like the before AND the after picture, depending upon which body parts you focus on.

4. Run to the gym

5. Well, okay. Drive to the gym. Running is a bit optimistic at this point.

6.  But first go out and buy some respectable exercise clothes. You are past the age when a stained t-shirt with your children’s hand prints stamped all over it is considered adorable. Plus, your sweats have holes in them and are hanging down around your gastrocnemius. You need high-tech workout clothes. Stuff that wicks away sweat and odor. Stuff that holds things up and in. Stuff that gives you cleavage. Unless you’re a guy. In which case you should avoid the cleavage-inducing sports bras. Hmmm. Never mind. Just concentrate on holding things in. Also, get some good shoes. No need to tempt Mr. Shin to splint.

7. NOW drive to the gym. Make sure you have a membership. Gyms frown upon people sneaking in. And besides, all they’ve got in there are treadmills; try running away from the gym bouncer on one of those.

8. What the heck; get on a treadmill. Choose one without a TV mounted on it. You are serious about this exercise-thing. TVs on treadmills are for wimp-cushions. You don’t need that kind of pitiful motivation. 

9. Choose your exercise program. Lie about your weight. Select your level of difficulty (cup your hand around the little setting-screen so no one can see. Make a pretense of leaning forward and stretching out your gastrocnemius to accomplish this. Grunt a few times to add credence). Select the amount of time you want to spend flailing about like a paralyzed hamster on the thing. Press “Start.”
10. Start.

11. No, I mean it. Start.

12. Sweet Mary Francis on wilted spinach! Quit thinking it through! Just START ALREADY!

13. Very good. We are walking, we are walking, we are walking. 

14. Ah. This isn’t so bad. Why you’ve been walking for a good 30 or 40 seconds and haven’t died yet. 

15. 30 or 40 SECONDS?! Is THAT all it’s been? You’re going to die.

16. Okay, okay. You’ve got this. You survived the first little hill. Now the surface is flat again. It’s feeling a bit better. In fact, you might be getting used to this. Really, it’s not so bad. Maybe you can increase your speed a little. Yeah! That’s it! 3.5, 3.6, 3.7. WOOT! Now you’re crackin’! Yeah, you’re grooving. You’re in the flow. You’re in your stride. You’re the man! You’re the woman! You’re the . . . hey, is that Ellen? On the treadmill TV next to you? Is that the Ellen Show?

17. It is! Oh, you love the Ellen Show. You don’t get a lot of time to watch it, but isn’t she hilarious? *chuckle,* she’s just so . . . oops. The guy next to you thinks you’re looking at him. He’s going to think you’re stalking him, and you are SO not. You’re stalking his TV.
18. He IS kind of cute, though–not that you’d notice, as a happily married woman. Is he looking back at you? GOOD GRIEF, WOMAN! Get a hold of yourself! Just because you are wearing official exercise pants (spandex-free. You’re not stupid) doesn’t mean that every hot guy is now going to look at you. You’re married. And a mother. Eyes forward.

19. Good. In control. We are walking, we are walking, we–the guy next to you laughs. Ooooh, he’s laughing at Ellen, you just know it.

20. You peek. Oh, she’s so funny. Who is her guest? Maybe if you just take a little . . . . If you just tilt your head like so, he won’t notice that you’re looking and you’ll still be able to see and–

22. wufflewufflewuffle.
23. *cricket*
24. “Ooopsie daisy! heh, heh. No I’m fine. No really. I’m sorry. Who knew you could fly off a treadmill like that? And sideways too? Yeah, no I’m good. Sorry about that elbow to your . . . um . . . sorry. No, no. I think I’m done. Just going to go . . . cool off. In the sauna. Yeah Um . . .” 

25. Drive home.

26. Stand in the toilet and consider flushing self.

27. After a while, climb out of the toilet and think seriously about this fitness thing. Look at the picture you took of the family at Oceanside last summer. You kind of like them. You want to be around to make peanut butter sandwiches for them a little longer. Your parents and grandparents have a history of heart problems and hereditary high cholesterol. You should probably figure out how to run without falling down–treadmill or not. 

28. Decide to take it one day at a time. Do what you can for that day. Ask self each time: “Do I want to be here for my grandchildren? Will they care if I look like I’m 18? (Actually, yes. They’d be very disturbed to have an 18 year-old grandmother.) Will they care if I can play with them and make cupcakes and go to the zoo? All right then. I have a choice each day: I can go out and do what I can that day, thereby improving and prolonging my life, or I can sit and drink Shirley Temples, and improve it not so much.”

29. Go out and walk around the neighborhood. Because that is what works for you today. And that’s good enough. With or without spandex.

30. Yep. That works.

About Janiel 432 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Oh, laughing, I can picture the whole scenario. The gym is fertile soil for self embarrassment. Like when you are bench pressing and drop the dumbbells right on your chest. Why ever would a woman be bench pressing? That area is too fragile to go at it without a safety net. Oh….there was a spotter…..he wasn’t doing his job, obviously. Maybe that’s my excuse for being flatter than the plains of Kansas, as the saying goes.

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