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How to Get Your Butt to the Gym When You Really Don't Feel Like It

Woman working out at gym

You know those people who absolutely LOVE working out? The people who happily train for marathons or enter fitness competitions for the sheer fun of it? I both admire these people and question their sanity given that working out isn’t something I consider “fun.”

Don’t get me wrong, exercise has been an integral part of my life for decades now—and sometimes it’s a wonderful source of stress relief for me, too. But other times… oh, the other times. There are days when the sheer thought of working out makes me just want to get in my PJs and crawl into bed!

And yet, working out isn't something I consider to be optional. After all, not only does exercise make you feel happier, it also helps with weight loss and managing blood sugar levels (among many, many other benefits). It’s for these very reasons that I’ve been consistently working out for 3+ days a week since December of 2017 without fail, no excuses.

So, how do I continue motivating myself to work out so consistently? Read on for some clever strategies and tips.

  1. Find an addictive Netflix show… and only watch it at the gym.

shakira making concerned face

When willpower isn’t enough, you can take the masochistic route like this one. Find a show you’ll inevitably become obsessed with, download the episodes to your phone or iPad, and only allow yourself to watch an episode when you’re at the gym. Is this a form of torture? Yes. Will it get your ass to the gym? Also yes.

2. Punish yourself for poor habits.

jim carrey

This is an approach that’s equally as masochistic as it is effective. In fact, I used this strategy when I returned from a week-long vacation in Arizona, which was characterized by indulgence in every sense of the word. To get myself back on track, I made a pact to avoid eating ANYTHING processed or unhealthy for a full month… or else I’d have to donate money to an organization I’m completely against. No crackers (processed), cereals (processed), pizza (junk food), or anything that I hadn’t made myself.

Start by finding a cause or organization you’re completely against. Then, set your price (i.e. a donation of $5 every time you eat junk food). Next, set the time span (i.e. healthy eating for one month). And if you need some extra help, there’s actually a site called “SticK” that’s based on this very premise. Now, every time you do that unhealthy thing, you'll be sending money to something or someone you hate. Yikes!

3. Create a challenge with friends.

harry potter hermione and ron friendship

This involves creating a point system where each person is allotted points for doing healthy things and docked points for giving in to an unhealthy vice. So, you might create a point system wherein you get 2 points for every half-hour workout but are docked 2 points every time you have ice cream.

Some tips: make sure you pick an unhealthy habit you’ve had a hard time breaking on your own, and make sure you get pretty detailed with the point system. (When I did this, we had various levels, like 0.5 points for a 30-minute walk, 1 point for a 30-minute workout, and 2 points for a 1-hour workout). At the end of the month, the winner gets a pre-determined prize like a gift card to a spa or lump of cash, such as $10 from each member of the challenge. This is a great approach for people who struggle to hold themselves accountable and have a bit of a competitive side!

4. Listen to a podcast.