Some ideas on how to exercise when you really don’t want to:
1. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Your body probably won’t be fantastically interested in starting a new exercise routine if you are chronically tired. Sort that out.
2. Understand what you are willing to give up to undertake exercise.
Yes, there is advice to work out an hour a day—but to go from zero to 60 (literally) is a stretch for most adults with busy lives and habits and schedules. Mathematically, 60 minutes for activity “x” requires that you give up activity “y” for 60 minutes.
Time does not create itself by magic simply because you’ve decided to exercise. Know thyself and what you are substituting, and my suggestion is to choose portions of the day when your time is less productive or essential.
Giving up Facebook for exercise is a good trade. Giving up time to manage cleaning or cooking or errands or social life or time with your kids likely won’t a long-term plan make.
3. Start small.
Take on a smaller commitment that you can achieve and grow, rather than a larger commitment that will fail and shrink.
Remember that 60 minutes? Yeah, I don’t exercise for 60 minutes a day. I do 28, because I can reliably commit to 28, succeed every day, and increase it if I want. That’s 3.2 hours a week. In the past, I was stuck on an hour and many weeks got into a failure cycle and did zero. Give yourself something that you can reasonably do.
4. Do what you like with whomever you like.
Don’t like running? Skip. Very few of us will engage with people or things we actively don’t enjoy during our leisure time.
Move on and find what you do like. Try different disciplines and instructors; there’s literally something and someone out there for everyone.
5. Try temptation bundling.
I don’t love cleaning; I’m bad at it, and it can make me get flustered. One of my coaches gave me an amazing tip to turn on a podcast while I clean. I want to listen to podcasts; I don’t really want to clean. By bundling “I can only listen to podcasts while I clean,” I now successfully clean every morning. Exercise is well-bundled with podcasts, TV, or music.
6. Focus on the sensations of the process rather than the sensations of the results.
Results-oriented exercise is great—but if you were truly, legitimately motivated by the promise of your body looking great in a bathing suit, you would be at the gym right now. You can capitalize on the fact that that’s not your motivation, and that you likely are a person who needs to enjoy the journey instead.
You are the 80 percent of people who have the opportunity to find something enjoyable in its own right, rather than simply doing it for the perceived reward. Find something you find inherently rewarding as you’re doing it.
If your thought was “lying on the couch,” there are exercises for that too.