Relationship Connection: Finding the motivation to exercise

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Question:

I can’t seem to find the motivation to exercise. I have joined two different gyms, I buy new running shoes every other year, and I promise myself each time I get started that “this will be the time.” Yet, I’m still overweight, tired, and annoyed at my obvious lack of motivation. Maybe you have some ideas that can help me stick with it?

Answer:

I certainly feel your pain on this one. I have experienced stages in my life where it felt impossible to stay with exercise. While some people seem to have the internal drive to pursue a daily regimen of exercise, it’s apparent from the frequent media reports on obesity that most Americans don’t have this drive. Here are some thoughts that have helped others (myself included) get and stay with an exercise program.

The first tip is to simply get started and adjust your direction as you’re moving forward. It’s difficult to steer a car when the tires aren’t moving. Likewise, it’s difficult to create a workout program when you’re not going anywhere. Some people sit around and create the perfect plan in their heads and never get started. I saw a coffee mug recently that said, “Ask your doctor if getting off your butt is right for you.” Trust me (and I’m not even your doctor), it’s right for you.

The next suggestion is to find a friend with whom you can exercise. Not only will you have someone to talk with, but you’ll also have some accountability when you’re not sure you want to continue and they keep showing up at your door.

I think it’s great to find exercise you like. Although it’s hard work and a lot of discomfort, you can eliminate some of the pain by finding a good fit. There are so many ways to exercise, and I bet there is one that will work well for you.

Gym memberships are good because they give you lots of exposure to different types of exercise, classes, and programs. Most gyms will give you a few days to try it out, which can help you dial in your program. You can even spend a little money and hire a personal trainer who can help you design a workout program that fits with your goals. Sometimes a little education and motivation is all you need.

Some find it helpful to write down the benefits they’re feeling from the exercise so they can read back on their experiences when they’re getting lazy or wondering if they should continue. Think of it as a motivational journal. If you’ve exercised for over one week, you should already be feeling the health benefits.

Notice how much clearer you can think, how much better you sleep, how your mood has improved, and the increased confidence you feel. These are just a few of the many benefits of regular exercise. Read up on exercise and learn more about the health benefits so you can have more reasons to exercise.

There are also emotional issues which keep people from exercising, so make sure that you’re not sabotaging yourself with subconscious emotional blocks. Another benefit of hiring a good personal trainer is that they will help you identify those blocks and power through them.

The most important thing is that you keep trying over and over. Don’t give up. Individuals who focus on only losing weight or trying to prepare for a certain event (like a race), will often drop out of their routine after they’ve hit their goal. Instead, think of this as a long-term lifestyle change. This will give you the flexibility to have good and bad days, weeks, and even months. Even though you gave up on exercise once or several times before, get back up and get going. Your consistency will pay off.

email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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1 Comment

  • Ryan May 10, 2012 at 5:52 am

    One of the biggest things to remember is you didnt get to be 20, 50, 100, 200 + pounds overweight in one day or a week or month or year, so why would you expect to lose weight that fast? Take it a day at a time and you will get where you want to be but be patient with yourself.

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