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5 Embarrassing Ways I Motivate Myself To Work Out

We all have days where we just CAN'T with working out. On those, here are the embarrassing—but effective—ways one runner gets moving.

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motivate myself to work out

I’m one of those people who like to exercise. I honestly do. But for some reason, I have the hardest time making myself do it sometimes. Like, I will put on my clothes, sit down to lace up my shoes….and then continue to sit there and space out for 20 minutes while I try to decide if I should really do this. Most of the time, I can push through and get on with an awesome workout.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read every article on the internet about ways to motivate yourself to work out (and have even written a few myself) and have found that a lot of the conventional advice really works. But sometimes, on the days I just cannot do it, I have to resort to a few weird, mildly embarrassing methods to kick my own butt into gear.

I know we all have a few of them (right??), so in the name of sharing motivation, here are mine:

I dance like no one’s watching.

I love running, but there are times I can’t get out of the house. On those days I need a workout I can do in my living room, but sometimes the idea of burpees and free weights is just so blah. So I tap into my inner dancing queen and pop in a cardio dance DVD. It’s super fun, really sweaty and makes the time fly by. Since I’m alone, I can really bust out the enthusiastic moves I’d probably hold back on in a group class and end up getting a killer workout during my (I can only assume) incredibly powerful and graceful performance.

I rock my lamest playlist.

We all know music is an awesome motivator, but sometimes I need a particular kind of playlist to jumpstart a workout. You know what I’m talking about—this is not the time for a cool, perfectly curated indie/Motown/Hamilton soundtrack playlist. This is the time for the old school boy bands from my youth, top 40 music I’m probably too old to listen to now, and anthems from favorite childhood musicals. For me, that means sweating it out to at least five Backstreet Boys songs, the latest Fifth Harmony and Ariana Grande, and possibly a song or two from the Rent soundtrack. No judgment please.

I use it to avoid something worse.

I am a procrastinator by nature and I have no problem coming up with excuses not to do something. So sometimes when I don’t want to work out, my only motivation is to use exercise as a reason to put off something worse on my to-do list. It may sound counterintuitive, but bargaining with myself like that really works; when the choice is going for a run or braving a trip to the mall to do some returns, I will put my sneakers on in five seconds flat.

I watch Sesame Street.

I have a two-year-old, which doesn’t leave me much free time to exercise. On good days, I’ll strap him into our jogging stroller and head outside for a run. But on my less-than-supermom days, I give into a little screen time and use his favorite shows to motivate the both of us. Lately he’s into a Sesame Street episode about exercise, so I put it on and bang out some squats, lunges and pushups while we watch and talk about exercise. He gets to watch his favorite show and learn about exercise, and I spend a little time with him and a little time working out. And the extra resistance when he sits on me during pushups can’t be beat.

I dream about dessert.

I know, I know, exercise is supposed to be about mental and physical health and not just a way to burn off calories—and food should be fuel and not a reward. I really do know that. But I’m human and sometimes, the only thing getting me off the couch is thinking about what I can eat later. And I don’t just tell myself I can eat some ice cream—I think about the flavor, the toppings, everything down to the bowl and spoon I’m going to use. The good news is most of the time I feel so healthy after a solid workout that I don’t even crave that treat anymore. Most of the time…