Do Your Force Yourself to Exercise - picture of runner's feet and legs on road in the fall

Do You Force Yourself to Exercise?

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On January 6th, I turn 35-years-old.  The strange thing is, I don’t feel 35-years-old at all.  Maybe I’m just crazy immature, but sometimes I feel like the real adults are going to show up someday and take away my car keys and bank card.  I look around and think, “am I really in charge?” all the time.  Reeeeeeaaaaaally? 

And I don’t feel 35 either.  Even though I’m slightly out of shape, I still feel about 25.

Unfortunately, it’s all out of my hands.  And getting old sure beats the alternative, am I right?  Still, I want to be young and badass for as long as humanly possible.  And at this point, I plan to stay as young as possible with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

But there’s a problem.  I absolutely hate exercising about 99% of the time.  I’m hyperactive and easily distracted, so it’s extremely hard for me to focus for long periods of time.  With that being said, I am dedicated to my physical fitness, even if it means forcing myself.  Here are a few ways to force yourself to exercise when you really don’t want to:

Have Your Spouse Leave You Somewhere

This tip comes courtesy of my sister who apparently loses motivation when jogging through her own neighborhood.  She recently confided in me that she sometimes has her husband drop her off a few miles from home when she wants to get in a good workout.  That way, she has no choice but to jog X number of miles and can’t simply turn around and jog back home because she’s bored.  Genius#

Be Active With Your Kids

We’ve always been pretty active with the kids, but we recently stepped it up a notch when we got the kids a used wii off craigslist and a few active games, including Just Dance.  I wasn’t sure it would count as a real workout, but Just Dance actually kicks my ass!  My entire body hurt the first time we played and has continued to ache every day since.  And yes, I love whooping my five-year-old at What Does the Fox Say and Dark Horse.  I’m competitive like that.  Eat it, poser!

Mow Your Own Yard

I almost hired someone to mow my lawn last year.  That was, of course, until I realized that it had become part of my exercise routine.  Since I have a push mower and a pretty big yard, not hiring someone to mow our yard forces me to exert all kinds of effort and keep my heart rate up for 45 minutes straight.  It’s sad that I have to trick myself that way, but it works.

Clean Your Own House

I have cleaned my own house for years, partly because I’m cheap but also because it’s pretty good exercise.  Mopping, dusting, cleaning, bending…all of those moves add up!  I recently hired someone to come and clean once per month but I am going to continue cleaning at least once per week.  It not only saves money to do so, but it also keeps me active.  And let’s face it – I need all the help I can get.

Get Some Cool Tunes

I did it.  Even though it took me a long time to pull the trigger, I finally broke down and bought a new iPod.  And yes,
I totally broke out all of my old CDs to load music onto it.  Fortunately, we also got a total of $30 in ITunes gift cards for Christmas this year which meant that I got to download some new music too.  And what a difference it makes!  I am much more tolerable of exercise when I can listen to some of my favorite music and space out.

It’s weird how motivation works.  I’m the kind of person who can get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to work if I need to or work weekends and evenings if I need to meet a deadline. But for some reason, that motivation just doesn’t translate over into my physical life all that much.  Simply put, I have to force myself to do it, and I always have.

Still, it’s better than nothing, right?  And if the end result is me feeling happier and healthier, I’m all for it.  I just wish I wanted to exercise.  Until then, tricking myself is the only strategy that works.

Do you ever force yourself to exercise?  How do you stay motivated?

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52 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I also like listening to music when doing yard work with engines. I found that a set of noise cancellation headphones with my iPod attached is just wonderful to zone out with.

    1. Music helps me get through almost anything- long car rides, long plane rides, exercise!

  2. My thoughts exactly. I hate running just to run, but I love basketball so that’s where I get my cardio. Incorporating exercise into things we like or already do such as playing with kids is the way to go. When we moved to Michigan, it was hard not to notice that everyone has a rider mower. Everyone. Even people with not-so-big yards. So I sometimes feel funny pushing our mower out there for an hour, but it’s good exercise!

    1. Everyone has a riding mower here too! We have a straight-up PUSH mower. It’s not even self-propelled. My yard isn’t hard to mow but it does get my heart rate up.

  3. I find that when I’m more in the habit of exercising regularly, it’s not as much of a chore because it becomes habit. However, when I take a few days or a week off (like I did over Christmas), it’s reeeeeaaaaaaallly hard to get back into it. So I try to keep in the habit. We are also members at a gym and I have been going to classes there long enough that most of the people at class are my friends. So going to class at the gym is socializing too, which makes it more fun. Anyway, good luck on your fitness goals!

  4. 2 Things – Caffeine and Audiobooks.

    By making caffeine something I ONLY have when I exercise, I’ve associated the good feelings of caffeine with exercise, so I want to exercise more than I ever did in the first 26 years of my life.

    Same deal with audiobooks. I get lost in a good story, and I can’t wait to exercise again so I can find out what happens in the next chapter.

    1. I might try audiobooks. I can get lost in music easily too- I bet I would enjoy that!

      1. I train for marathons and ultras and I like to listen to music and audiobooks. I borrow the books from the library so it’s free!

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only person who counts cleaning as exercise! It’s no joke all that bending, lifting, vacuuming, and scrubbing.

    What keeps me exercising is that I work at my yoga studio in exchange for free classes. So, since I have to be there for my shift, I might as well take a class. It’s like a triple motivation for me: I have to work, I want to exercise, and the class is free (and I hate turning down free things!). I’ve never been so consistent in my workout routine before–it’s pretty great.

      1. Twice a week for two classes (each shift is worth 1 class). I totally lucked out because one of my shifts is just taking out the studio’s trash barrel! It’s 5 minutes of work for a 90 min yoga class :). My other shift involves checking people into class, which is for the 30 minutes prior to the class, so not a bad time trade there either. It’s an ideal system for me!

  6. Sometimes I don’t feel like going for a run… but I force myself to do the first mile and then it isn’t so bad and worst case scenario I have to do a second mile to get home.

    In general I don’t have to force myself to do much in the way of exercise since I love being active and I have to stay in some kind of shape if I want to keep my spot on the Nationals team for our hurling club. Top that off with I have to do Physical Therapy twice a week (soon to be 3 times a week) to rehab my shoulder from my rotator cuff surgery.

  7. Your sister is a genius!! However, I live in the city where whenever it’s nice out there are tourists clogging up all the pretty walkways. Plus, if someone dropped me off a few miles from the house, there’s always a free bus home 🙁

    The upside to living in the city is that I can walk everywhere, I just don’t do it ant a speed that’s really an ‘exercise’/power-walking speed. I had jury duty the other week and actually walked the mile or so home since the bus was 10min late.

    1. Yeah, we have no public transportation around here. You’re basically on your own!

      What city do you live in?

      1. I’m in Baltimore City, near the harbor so there are lots of great shops and restaurants to walk to.

  8. Ha! LOVE your sis’s exercise plan!! That’s awesome!! Like you, I’m not a huge fan of exercise. In the summer, I’m great at going for 5 mile walks with my girlfriends, as the time flies fast while we are blabbing away. But in the winter; fuhgit abot it. Cleaning the house, doing farmwork, that’s mostly it, but at least it’s something. I also spend about 10 minutes each evening stretching and doing a minimal amount of Pilates exercises. It’s something, I s’pose. 🙂

  9. I usually take walks as a bare minimum way to get some exercise. I often take our dog along and load up the iPod with music or podcasts.

    1. My dog loves going for a walk! That’s a good incentive for me. I also walk while the kids ride bikes and that makes them very happy.

  10. I excersise mostly because I enjoy it and I like the way it makes me feel. Some days I obviously dont want to do a thing, but I force myself to get to the gym or run outside. I wasn’t always like that though, but now I couldn’t imagine my life without excersising at least 5-6 days a week!

    1. I want to be like you when I grow up!!! I definitely feel better when I’m exercising regularly. And drinking plenty of water.

  11. That’s a genius idea from your sister. I’d steal it if I didn’t hate running so much, lol. Seriously though, this has been a huge challenge for us both with us working from home. We used to have a gym membership but never went so we cut that. Since we both started losing weight this year it has become better since we keep each other accountable and have that competitiveness going on as we don’t want to fall behind the other. But, once I fall out of that routine of doing it often (like last week) it can be a challenge to get started again.

  12. I HATE to exercise, which is strange because when I was in my 30s I worked out 1-2 hours 5 days a week. Now it have to force myself to go for a walk which I reallllly need to do to stay on a weight loss program which is essential for my health. Funny, I have total discipline when it comes to finances and saving/investing but none at all with diet and exercise. My husband is quite dedicated to his exercising which really makes me feel like a slug but does sort of shame me into doing at least a minimum.

  13. This is something we still struggle with! I don’t have a great solution other than to remind myself that it is important and to schedule it in my day just like I schedule going into work.

  14. If you don’t like to exercise, one way to “trick” yourself into exercising is to find a game you like to play that gets your heart pumping – racquetball, tennis, softball, or just going for a walk with a friend to talk and catchup. For me, a person that exercises every day, I don’t think of it as exercise. I’m in training for my next race, or working on the next weight goal for a certain lift. It’s a competitive thing, even if it’s with myself. 🙂

  15. Music is a huge motivator for me as well. I don’t have too much of a problem exercising because I know the feeling I get from it beats the alternative, so it’s pretty ingrained in my brain now, but still there are sometimes I need a nudge. Just dance is awesome and I remember doing this at my friend’s house and totally working up a sweat. And it’s so much fun. Beach volleyball is another great way to have fun and get in a good workout for me.

  16. Just think how much more exercise we’d get if our hubbies dropped us off in a “bullets flying” part of town. That’d make us kick it up a notch! 😀
    Trick exercise is the only kind that works for me lately. I used to force myself to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Until or unless I do that again, the tricks will have to do. Great list and I can totally relate to the “grown up” thing. If at my age I’m still not there, I can’t advise you on that one, that’s for sure!

  17. I have trouble getting up to exercise too, but that’s one of my goals for 2015. I want to exercise in the morning instead of in the evening after work so I can use more evening time to work on my freelancing.

  18. I’m a big walker, but that’s about it. I am active with my kids (dance parties in the living room anyone?!) and I clean my house, but I don’t have a regular work out routine right now. I will say – this past summer before we moved I did Jillian Michael’s workouts on YouTube (free!) on my TV every day, and WOW – I felt so good and I also looked really good haha! I actually had a 4-pack going…but since we moved I haven’t done a workout since 🙁 I need to get back into that!

  19. I have goals, which require me to exercise. When I’m running on the tread mill, I focus on achieving my goals and time flies by. If I didn’t have anything I wanted to accomplish, I would probably hate it by now.

  20. I think forming an exercising habit can help a lot. I am used to going to the gym 3-5 times a week, so when I don’t go to the gym I feel “out of it” like I forgot to do something during the day.

  21. Ben Luthi says:

    Yes, I have to force myself. The only problem is that the part of me that doesn’t want to exercise is usually more forceful than the part of me that does 😉 I like the drop-off idea though! I’m sure my wife would love it too haha

  22. These are all good ideas, because the trick is to do things that get you moving but aren’t explicitly “working out”. I started hula hooping over the summer with an adult sized hoop. It’s so fun that it doesn’t feel like exercise, and it definitely firmed up my abs!

  23. Totally agree with you! I don’t think all my body want to exercise, but I like the drop-off idea! Thank you for sharing!

  24. I really don’t force myself to do exercise, I’ve been doing exercise for 17 years and it like a part of my life now!

  25. I usually have to force myself to exercise and then after I do it, I am really happy I did. Thankfully, hubby and I motivate each other to exercise and we typically get up in the morning and work out together. We call the process of getting out of bed the band aid ripping moment and we usually take turns as to who rips the band aid off first and gets out of bed. Once one of us is out, the other gets up too. Happy New Year to the Club Thrifty family!!! See you in 2015!!

  26. I used to force myself to work out because I hated it so much. Now, we go rock climbing multiple times a week and it’s fun to work out!

  27. This may sound a bit dumb, but I joined a gym for this purpose. I had been working out everyday, but it wasn’t strenuous enough. So last month I joined a gym (only $10 a month) and since I don’t like to waste money I figured it was a good motivator. So far so good. I have worked out at least five times a week at said gym. I even went to the gym while we have been visiting family. Best $10 a month I spend.

  28. I love to get out for a walk in the early morning but… if I think of it as ‘exercise’ I find excuses not to go. Instead, I focus on how it clears my mind, gets the blood pumping and gets me primed and ready to start my day when I get home.

    As I work from home, this means it helps me focus on ‘work’ and not tidying the kitchen! Plus, I get at least 30 minutes of fresh air and exercise. Win, win, win!

  29. I love working out…but, it’s horrible getting back into it after falling out of the habit. Good luck.

  30. Great tips! I actually love exercising once I’m in a gym. It’s getting there that’s the problem! Hahaha. I love the idea of being dropped off. This could work at a gym, too. No way out at that point!

  31. I love exercising, but I found that the best thing for me was to make sure that I’ve always lived close to a gym. Getting to the gym can be a pain sometimes. When I started exercising, I only lived a few minutes walk away from the gym, so getting there wasn’t a big deal.

  32. Early happy birthday! 35 is young, just wait until you’re a senior like me. This year I made a concerted effort to start exercising, first outdoors, and then when it got colder, at the gym. I definitely have to force myself to go, but getting off the sofa is the hardest part. Once I’m there, I actually enjoy it. I watch TV while I’m on the treadmill, and I talk with my wife while we’re using the machines. Having an exercise partner is a great way to keep yourself accountable.

  33. I’ve always committed to an event or a race and then I have no choice but to train hard due to my extremely competitive nature and wanting to be the best I can be at everything. Works for me!

  34. I just moved to a house with a big lawn, so I will start having to cut grass in the summer. My dad is giving me a push mower for free, so that will help with the exercise.

    There’s an app called Endomondo which keeps track of your calories burned and distance traveled. There are also monthly competitions. It helps motivate me to see the cumulative amount of calories I burned and try to get further up the ranking in the competitions.

  35. catherine says:

    Having a buddy helps me. I prefer to workout alone (though love going for walks with friends) but I chat daily with my SIL who acts as a big motivating factor for me. We try and keep eachother accountable.

  36. Your sister’s story totally reminded me of the one day my mom dropped my dad, my brother, and me off at the Target in my town and we walked back home for funsies. We definitely got a workout!

  37. I love to exercise but only if it’s something I like. If my only options were yoga and Zumba, I’d probably be a couch potato!

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