How To Motivate Yourself To Work out

How To Motivate Yourself To Work out

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Get some inspiration from the story of Rita Templeton to work out: I knew my weight had gone out of hand, but seeing as I dodged full-length mirrors like the plague, I didn’t know exactly how out of hand it had gotten… until one day when my four-year-old was recording random videos on my phone. Little did I know that he had left it recording and propped it up on the counter, directly across from the refrigerator — the same refrigerator that, according to the video, I rummaged around in with my gut hanging unflatteringly out of a too-small tank top.


Heart pounding, I forced myself to watch it. And I cried in defeat and disbelief. It may have been an emotionally pitiless wake-up call, but it served a goal. I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Yet there was still the not-so-little matter of the pesky 100-plus pounds I wanted to lose.

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I recalled a Shel Silverstein poem I had loved as a child that said, “Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae, Who ate a monstrous whale? She thought she could; she said she would, so she started in the right at the tail.” The poem goes on to say that she ate the whole whale, bit by bit.

In the spirit of Melinda Mae, I started with baby steps. I felt utterly too fat to go to the gym, so I began my journey at home. I paced around the house as much as I could. I tried to put more energy into doing my daily responsibilities.

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We had a Wii Fit, which cheerily chirped, “That’s obese!” every time it would weigh me. (Thanks a lot, asshole.) I purchased a little aerobics step and stepped up and down on it while I watched TV. Gradually, I started to see a change, even though it still felt like I was using a chisel to hack away at an iceberg.


The first time we went, I was the chubbiest girl in the class. I plastered nervously against the back wall, ready to bolt at the first sign of anyone snickering at the fat chick trying to work out. To my astonishment, though, it was a lot of fun.

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It wasn’t always a smooth drive, but I kept at it, and over two years, I took 112 pounds’ worth of bites out of that whale. Abandoning that much weight gave me a new level of self-confidence that the overweight me could never have imagined. I’ve had a few hindrances since then — like when my husband found me so alluring that I got pregnant for the fourth time (surprise!) and gained 60 pounds — but I’ve learned to forgive myself for any bumps and climb back on the carriage.

If left to my own devices, I would heartily spend my days baking and eating and lounging around in a pillow fort. And I have to fight a never-ending battle not to let myself slack, or I totally will. It’s just how I am. So how do I keep myself motivated to exercise and sustain a healthy weight? Seriously, movement begets movement.

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Remember reading about kinetic energy and Newton’s laws of motion? precisely that of Inertia?) On the days when I feel like doing nothing at all, I make myself get up and walk around for a while — because once you’re in motion, staying in motion becomes much more manageable. I’m not too fond of the elliptical machine. I’m not a runner.

But I do love to dance, and go for strolls, and take step aerobics classes. I enjoyed Zumba so much that I became an instructor. You’ll never stick with activities you find bothersome, but there are so many different ways to move. I take advantage of my super aggressive streak and wear a gadget around my wrist that counts my daily steps, which helps me in the motivation department.

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You don’t even have to do an exercise to get an exercise. Every time I pick up laundry or a toy (which is approximately 12,342 times per day), I squat instead of bending over. I do calf raises while I’m standing at the sink. I walk around with my stomach sucked in.


I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and slap my butt cheeks together. Don’t judge me. As a group fitness instructor, my classes are counting on my presence, so I have to exercise at least three times a week. But if heading a class isn’t your bag, find a workout buddy and stick to a program together.

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And now, so is exercising. I wouldn’t let my teeth get plaque-y, or my brows grow out until they resemble caterpillars, so I won’t let myself slack off on exercise either (at least not more than once or twice a week). This cannot be very easy, because like I said, not everybody wants to be motivated.

I can’t very well tell them to adopt a healthy habit while I’m illustrating the complete opposite. It might seem like a far-off concept from where you’re standing. I get it. But trust me: Once you make exercise a natural part of your life, you’ll actually (gasp!) look forward to it.

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But consistency is critical, and even tiny steps are better than none. Whether you’re 10 pounds overweight or 200, affirm this: You are so worth the effort.

We all know that being active and partaking in a regular workout program is good for our minds, bodies, and souls. But sometimes the internal conversation that tells us to skip our workout or grab takeout and work a few hours extra takes over. When this happens, it can be hard to follow through on your plan to make it to the gym and prioritize fitness.