One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni – Exercise Motivation

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I am wondering how you stay motivated to exercise.  I know, from reading your posts you seem to really enjoy exercising, saying it’s "me" time.  Did you always enjoy exercising?  I have been exercising for a long time now–sometimes I am more committed than others–but I can never say it’s fun!  My idea of  “me” time is to put my nose in a good book.  Choosing to exercise over choosing to read (or do other things) is always a struggle for me and I can’t honestly imagine being excited about choosing exercise time over reading time!  Any suggestions?  Thanks!
Sandy

Hi Sandy! Thanks for your question.

This is an interesting subject for me as I didn’t always enjoy exercise. Actually, I hated it. I mean, I didn’t mind a nice walk but the thought of getting in the car, going to the gym and taking a 45 minute spinning class was not even on my radar for a “good time” (I actually do this now and it still floors me.)

Let me start at the beginning. When I embarked on this weight loss journey, I didn’t want to exercise, I didn’t have a gym membership and I had no formal workout routines. I knew if I started one it wouldn’t be long before I quit. Then I’d get angry at myself for not having the motivation to continue. Then I’d get depressed. Then eat more. Then… you know where this is going.  

Why did I know all this? Well, let’s just say, practice. That little cycle started in college and continued for years. I’d work out for about 2 days, if that, hate it, never go back and successfully get depressed which always lead to more food.  

So when I started Weight Watchers June 2005 I was determined NOT to workout. I wanted to prove to myself that I could lose weight without spending hours at the gym. My thought process simple, if the weight was going to come off it was going to come off in a way I can live with forever. That was the only way. I didn’t want to sign myself up for 5 day a week workouts just to maintain a number on the scale. No, this time was going to be different and it was.

Now, before you get all crazy or excited, just because I wasn’t “working out” doesn’t mean I wasn’t active. I even wrote a few posts about staying active and getting exercise in without needing a gym. My personal favorite is an old journal entry of mine entitled Gym Shmym, Who Needs ‘Em? Recently I wrote my newer 10 Stay Active Tips!  And the oldest entry I have talking about exercising lists my activities while losing and talks about a New Years workout resolution which I ironically didn’t keep.

It wasn’t until last August I got a real itch to start formally working out. I was already maintaining for a year and half and I really needed to set more goals for myself. So I looked into a “Y” membership and I started a page to track my workout progress  (side note, this desperately needs to be updated.)

In 2 months, I was hooked and even wrote about my transformation of becoming a gym rat. I don’t know if was just the right time for me being so busy with the toddler and work that the gym gave me a haven away from it all. Or if deep down I was always a gym rat but lacked the motivation because I was chubby and out of shape in the past. Whatever it was, I can honestly say, overall, I do enjoy it now. Yeah, there are some days I don’t want to go and I definitely am not a cardio girl but I know I’m doing something good for my body and soul and that seems to be enough to keep me going. That, and an hour with my ipod with no distractions!

See, I’m a ‘music girl’. SO that works for me. Since you are a ‘book girl’, my suggestion for you is to bring the book! Nothing says you can’t ride the reclined bike while completely absorbed in a good read. Plus noting beats killing two birds with one stone! ;~P

So I hope that helps a little bit and I’m sorry for all the links to old posts, but as I began to answer you I remembered all my writings discussing exercise. It’s so strange for me to go back and read my own thoughts from two years ago and “hear” the old me. Thanks again for the question. It really gave me a chance to look at my own personal workout history. Which I find somewhat amusing. Some of them gave me a good chuckle down memory lane.

Thanks again! Hope that helps!
-Roni

P.S. Does anyone else have advice for Sandy?




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Discussion

There are 21 comments so far.

    MizFit

    April 12, 2008

    damn, woman.

    this is a fabulous well thought out well written motivating post.

    you are such an awesome role model.

    M.

    Vickie

    April 12, 2008

    If you are a book girl – consider books on tape or CD or downloaded. they “draw you in” and make the time fly. Hard to have good positioning on most machines if you are trying to read a real book.

    My motivation was and still is – tone. My belly fat and excess skin in the beginning. I hated it – I wanted it gone – it was my motivation very day.

    Now that I am in the grove of (formal daily )exercise – I still never am eager to go – I still have the little thoughts of “I’ll just go tomorrow” that flicker through my brain. But I remind myself how relaxed I feel after a good workoug. How all those little aches and pains melt away.

    Belly is flat and good in clothes – now working on smoothing out some of those wrinkles. And that is good motivation.

    THANKS for the taco seasoning recipe!!!!

    Jim Purdy

    April 12, 2008

    I guess I’m going to get my fat lazy body up and start exercising. I’m being pestered by everybody about it … my primary care physician, my podiatrist, my nutritionist, my friends … and my son keeps offering to pay for a trainer for me. It really is easier for me to read a book. But wouldn’t it count just a little if I just read a book about exercise?

    Eden

    April 12, 2008

    Like you, I love music. That’s why I found my iPod to be the MOST IMPORTANT investment I made for my exercise routine. I know that sounds funny, but it really works.
    I just load it up with really great tunes and head to the gym. I can exercise pretty hard for an hour and not dread it because I’m feeling the music, not the pain!

    PJ Griffith

    April 12, 2008

    I just came across this blog. It has really inspired me. Thanks!

    Anonymous

    April 12, 2008

    Great post Roni!

    I would just add that you have to find what works for you. I love to walk. I could walk forever. Every so often I have to shake it up a bit with something new.

    Rachel

    April 12, 2008

    Along with Roni’s thoughts, I would just reiterate the idea of starting slow and gradually getting into it – like, start out just going a couple times a week. Make a schedule for yourself – say, “every day after work (or after school, or after something you’re required to do) I’ll go to the gym.” Once you’re there, the recumbant bike is a really good option, or walking on the treadmill with some incline. Those activities are not rough on your joints and it’s easy to do them without “feeling the pain”. See, when you first start I don’t think you necessarily have to be “feeling the pain” at every workout – sure, some day you’ll grow to enjoy the pain, but that takes awhile to cultivate. In the meantime, focus on an actvity you can enjoy, or at least not mind so much. I bet soon you’ll start to enjoy working out and want to up it to 3 times a week or more.
    :-) Good luck!

    Rebecca

    April 12, 2008

    Roni-
    Great post. I am also motivated by my ipod. I have been meaning to ask you for a while- What gets you moving the most? I think that would be a fun post. What is your favorite get up and moving music?
    Rebecca

    Mimi the Blogger

    April 12, 2008

    I’m not much of an exerciser either but there is definitely something about finding a time for yourself in a hectic day that I really have come to like. One way to motivate myself on the treadmill, especially, is to watch movies from Netflix. I can’t really do it any other time and once before my toddler was born, my husband and I went to the movies all the time. Now, no time for movies, EXCEPT, when I’m on the treadmill. I was also going to recommend books on tape/CD but watching a movie is much more distracting and easier on a treadmill.

    Anonymous

    April 12, 2008

    Great Comments..I have always been athletic,I have a hubby who played pro football,,and a son that played pro baseball,I have sons who played college baseball and football. I’ve been around sports and top fit athletics most my life..There was a time when I got very lazy and did not care about exercise or taking time out for myself,,I was not a happy person..I decided I have 24 hours in a day,,and I sure as heck can and will spent ONE hour exercising,,its a committment I’ve kept steadily for the past ten years…What motivates me,,my hubby who is still built like Charles Atlas..and LOVES the gym,,and fitting nicely in my clothes.. my iPod is the greatest invention since the washing machine..HAHA…Love roni’s blog..

    Suzan

    Gabby

    April 12, 2008

    Sandy..i love to buy my books on tape for the exact reason you state..I look forward to listening while i do an hour on the step mill or run and hour…it is “me” time..I can only listen to that book while working out! It is hard as i am into My sister’s keeper ;)..Hope this helps..i also download them onto my ipod if i want to go outdoors..

    Michele

    April 13, 2008

    I thought about asking you this question but never got around to it so I’m glad someone else did.

    When I first started WW I worked out like crazy. I did the treadmill every day for 45-60 minutes on a high incline. I ended up hurting my knee and had to take a break. That slowed me down for a while and I never fully picked up my steam again.

    I just started a new job and there’s a gym right down the street. I started going on my lunch hour and am doing the treadmill again but not killing myself with it this time. I’ve started slowly. I love that my gym has a flat screen TV on every piece of cardio equipment so I get to get away from the office, get my work out in and watch some TV while I’m at it. It’s a great way to break up my day, take my mind off my job for a little while and it’s so nice to get my work out done and over with before I get home!

    Tiffany Windsor,ON, Canada

    April 13, 2008

    It would be great to ask “What’s on your IPOD that keeps you moving??” Do you think that could be your next question?

    Anonymous

    April 13, 2008

    my advice for Sandy: I also, HATE the gym—until I”ve finished an exercise and, then, am so glad I went!
    I’m kind of an introvert and don’t like big, group classes, and I’m also a bookworm. I usually ONLY do cardio (elliptical or treadmill) but most of this equipment has a book or magazine holder. I find that even if I start to psych myself and convince myself I don’t have time blah blah blah–that if I just commit to getting MOVING by doing say 20 minutes at an incline on the treadmill or 30-30 minutes on the elliptical–I’m SO glad I did and let’s be honest–I could’ve wasted more time than that surfing the net. For me, when I’m talking myself out of going outside for a walk or going to the gym, I just break the cycle of making up excuses and get out of my head, mindlessly pack up my gym bag, throw on some sweats, toss in a good magazine and GET OUT OF MY HEAD and just DO. If you’re getting more activity than you were before, even if it’s just a 10, 15, 20 minute routine, you’re still MAKING PROGRESS and GETTING HEALTHIER!! Don’t sell yourself short!! and don’t try to over-commit to becoming a gym devotee from Day 1, it may end up sabotaging your motiviation. Hope this helps!! and best of luck!! You CAN do it, Sandy!!

    Lisa

    Erika

    April 13, 2008

    My piece of advice – pick something you actually like doing. If you don’t like running/walking, don’t do the treadmill. As for the motivation, I loooove reading magazines, so I make the rule that I can’t read them unless I’m doing my cardio. It also helps make the time fly by…..I also, like many others, loooove my iPod…I load it up with favorite music with uplifting beats that helps keep my energy level high :) Most of all, just go slow – don’t expect yourself to do an hour every day….start with 20 minutes every other day…and work up from there.

    bonnier

    April 13, 2008

    When I was overweight and unhealthy, I hated the thought of exercising, but by February 2007, I was feeling so old (almost 52) that I decided I just “had” to get moving, or I was going to die. I started Curves for Women, 4 days a week. My son told me that, although he was happy for me that I was getting exercise, I would not lose weight by exercise alone. (I didn’t believe him at first, but by August, I realized he was right, so I started Weight Watchers). In September 2007, I began a 2 night a week pilates class in addition to Curves, although one of the 4 Curves workouts, became my WW meeting. And here just about 1.5 months ago, I started walking twice on the weekend, once running my errands (live in a small town) on Saturday morning, the other on Sunday. But like several have said, it’s been my iPod that motivates me while walking. I listen to either Podcasts, or audio books, and I will keep walking and walking because I’m enjoying what I’m listening to, so much. At Curves, I have so many friends (and the people who work there), that expect me to be there, so I just will hardly ever miss. Acountability helps me a LOT! And as I started getting smaller, just the feeling of being a “workout woman” is also great motivation.
    Thanks again Roni, for having such a wonderful website(s) to help keep us on track!

    Anonymous

    April 13, 2008

    Try Crossfit!
    www.crossfit.com
    Read what it’s all about and find your local crossfit gym, you’ll never be bored again.

    My husband started a year ago and I’ve been going for two months. The workouts change everyday, never the same and can take from 5-25 mins.

    I’ve have never felt so strong in my life and can finally keep up with my three kids. We bring them to the family class’ on the weekends, it’s a lot of fun to all workout together.

    Don’t feel intimated, once you try it you’ll never stop. After going a few times and you have learned the techniques you can do the workouts posted daily from home if you choose.

    Give it a try!
    Allison

    Sandy

    April 14, 2008

    Thank you Roni for posting and answering my question and thank you all for your wonderful support and suggestions! Just reading all of your posts is motivating! I have to say I REALLY admire all of you who say you set rules for yourselves (i.e. only listening to a certain book/reading magazines while exercising)and then stick to them! I can set the rules–I am just not so good at self-enforcing them!

    I have given this a lot of thought and have come up with two new things I am going to try.

    1. Setting fitness goals for myself that are not weight-loss related such as being able to do a push-up (I’m pathetic) and (possibly) running 3 miles. Side note–has anyone heard of coolrunning.com’s Couch to 5K running plan and the podasts that go with it–that’s my new endeavor.

    2. I am going to try to exercise to a level that does not feel like I am killing myself every time.

    I am also going to try several of the suggestions that all of you have given me.

    Maybe these things will help me stay motivated and maybe, someday, I will learn to enjoy it. Although, honestly, I’m not holding my breath on that one! :)

    Thanks to everyone!

    And Roni–thank you SO MUCH for all you do–you keep me motivated every day.

    And, I noticed your answer to my question came in at 1:04 a.m.–you really do need to get to bed earlier! :)

    Sandy

    Anonymous

    April 14, 2008

    I’ve always been one to avoid exercising, even though I’ve owned a treadmill for 2 years!

    This past week I found back issues of the Weight Watchers magazine at my local library, and discovered they published a year-long walking program in 2007. The walk program starts off slowly and progressively builds from week to week. While the objective is to train you to walk a half marathon, I’ve decided to use it as my daily motivation with the treadmill. I may never walk a half marathon, but at least I hope to actually start using my expensive dust collector. :)

    The Weight Watchers 2007 walking program is also available online at http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?art_id=38261&tabnum=1&sc=3039&subnav=More+Ways+to+Be+Active

    Best of luck with your goals!

    Linda, Toronto

    online fitness health

    May 15, 2008

    I admire on what you achieve now I also wanted to lose weight without going to the gym. But funny I cannot do it I really need to sweat just to lose some inches on my waist.

    online fitness health

    May 15, 2008

    and I really like your blog it inspire me so much. I have seen your before and after and you really lose weight. What a determination.