Barriers to Exercising! Why can’t I JUST do it?

by Marianne  - January 6, 2011

Hi everyone,

This may be a subject that has be talk about to death, but its importance will never cease to be relevant to people across the globe. The reasons why we exer
cise are vast and, they EVOLVE! The reason you started to train, may not be the same now and you may have picked up other reasons and goals along the way. Just as with life, we change through experiences and challenges, human beings need REASON to carry on.

Look at religion, love, or even just getting out of bed in the morning – we need a reason to push us forward, to stop us falling back, to keep us focused on what is important to us!

I may be getting very deep here, but I want to talk about why, even though someone may have the desire to exercise, they cannot seem to get off the starting block, or the days we just can’t be bothered. Why do we create our own barriers? What are the most common barriers? And how do we overcome them?

To some, I know I may make it look easy, but even I find it difficult to get my ass off the sofa (or computer chair) to go and just do a workout! It’s easy to understand why I make it look easy, as I post workouts and tutorials here each week and clearly these are the times when I have had the motivation, but so many times I have NOT. The rest of the time can be a battle with my naturally lazy bones to NOT let my hard work fall by the wayside.

I want to be a rolemodel for people. But one that is on a level playing field, and not on a pedestal! A pedestal is unattainable, a rolemodel should be advocating the doable! And if I can do it – YOU CAN DO IT!

Unless we are obsessed with exercise, we will suffer from wavering motivation, so let’s start there:

Lack of Motivation

Do you ever notice there are days when your motivation is sky high? Well, likewise I am sure you notice the days when you want to do some exercise and you know you should, but for some reason you just can’t get started. You may have many reasons for wanting to exercise, but motivation is different, it comes from a different place. You can easily have goals, but attaining them needs motivation. Motivation is like a driving force behind achievement, so what happens to it?

Having motivation is great, but it wains with mood, tiredness, slow results, lack of time, distractions, priorities and plan old life, so what can we do to help overcome that pesky lack of motivation? Well, here’s a few ideas:

  • Get a diary and schedule your workouts – if it’s written down it looks more like an agreement with yourself, so you are more likely to do it. I write down on my calender what I want to achieve each day, and it really helps.
  • Make training part of your daily life – don’t be intimidated by it, treat it like nothing special, then it will be part of the routine (don’t treat it like a chore mind you LOL)
  • Get competitive, with yourself or, others – which ever works best. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do better than someone else, it’s natural.
  • Train with a friend. You will motivate each other, having that moral support. Just be careful your friend doesn’t start holding you back.
  • Take up a challenge – 100 rep push up challenge, a 10,000 Kettlebell swing challenge maybe, whatever gets you EXCITED.
  • Set realistic goals including short, medium and long term goals. No point in only having short term goals for this week and nothing beyond it. Also if you have a goal for way next year, how will you get from day to day? Remember it is a long haul, so be prepared.
  • Join a community of like-minded people who will share their experiences and their strategies for staying on top. This support is priceless!
  • Join a class, working out with others can help make you work harder than if you’re alone – again competition comes into play, or not wanting to fail.
  • Talk about your plans – if you’re enthusiastic when talking to others, motivation will grow inside. Plus if everyone knows your plans, you would want to fail πŸ™‚
  • Expect and accept that plans will fall through from time to time, don’t let it get to you though. Brush it off as a bad day and get back to it the next.

If you find that everyday you tell yourself “I’ll start tomorrow” and it never happens, this is normal. Getting starting is the most difficult stage but, once you start it gets easier. You don’t need to start full pelt into 5 days a week, start at two, or even one – this will get you used organising the time and you will love the feeling of satisfaction after the workout is done.

What motivates me now has changed a lot from this time last year; Now, I want to teach, I want to be the best I can be, I want others to see what is possible and attainable, I don’t want to let people down on here, I want to eat what I want and not get overweight again, I love to feel strong, and I want to keep feeling great about myself 80% of the time πŸ™‚

What drives you, what kicks your ass in gear when all else has failed? Can you add to the list above, of what can be done to help others out of that rut?

Motivation is a major barrier, but it can be overcome. There are many others that are not – this is the first in a series of discussions about barriers to exercising.

Look forward to your comments.




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  1. AL, Music also motivates me. But when I’m reading at my computer, I can’t have it on so I just keep reading. Now you, and finding this wonderful Kettlebell lady, are motivating me. I had been using my KBs for door stoppers and a gate to keep my puppy out of the way. The other night, I did pick up the KB to do another exercise and she was in the way, Now it can be okay to use the KB as a baby gate so I won’t give my puppy a concusion. She’s only 5 lbs.

    BTW: for now, my exercise time is 6PM. If I don’t make it, I feel l let myself down. it’s not 5:38 PM as I glance at the clock. The workout gear is to my left, now the decision, what to do:??? I think I”ll hop on over to her beginner section and grab me a new work out for today. Since I just found her, yesterday, (smiles)

  2. Hi Marianne,

    Hope this post is still open for comments πŸ™‚ As there are already so many new posts.

    Thanks for bringing this subject up, as from time to time we all struggle with this. There are already many replies with helpful suggestions. I want to share my experience with it. Not much, but works for me even for outdoor sports with -15C and falling snow. πŸ™‚

    I never was able to get motivation from pictures… don’t know why, somehow it never clicked for me. Instead, I’ve noticed a few things that can make me moving no matter what: music and some favorite exercises. It’s such a great feeling of moving with good music and performing the exercises (moves) you like πŸ™‚

    My best,

    1. I don’t know how I would get motivated in that weather! Looking out would make me just want to sleep by the fire πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the tips, I too like certain exercises and they always make the workout more fun!


      1. Hi there,
        My winter outside sport is cross-country ski. This season I bought a new hat and it is crazy colorful πŸ™‚ Each time I put it on, I don’t care anymore about the weather, I just want to go and ski.
        Our winder is long and cloudy gray, so each time I see bright colors, I want to put it on… makes me feel good πŸ™‚

        This brings me to another sort of motivation that works sometimes: new workout clothes. Just one new little piece can motivate you to get up and move.


  3. It looks like we are all on the same page, and I am glad that you brought this subject up now, I really needed something to get me started again.
    Reading everyone’s comments is just the little nudge that I need to get myself back on the horse.
    I just bought a new workout journal and the first page is my goals for this year.
    I have 4 and the list may grow as I complete each goal. I haven’t done a workout this year at all. Walking and running up stairs doesn’t count as a workout for me any longer.
    Today I begin


    1. Good for you Mickela. I came home and read all these comments this morning and it got me motivated to do a workout (a straight forward cardio one). But then I had planned to upload yesterday’s workout, which was a great one, but I must have been in a coma or something, because I just wakened up at 5 pm!!! Just had dinner, and I won’t have time now to upload it πŸ™ So while I achieved my training, the other plans fell by the wayside. I’ll make sure it’s up tomorrow!

      Good luck with your planned workout! In your nice fresh journal πŸ˜€


  4. So much for short and sweet. I also keep a log , have for years. Like Gillian I write everything in there. Time, how I feel, what I’m doing, how I feel afterwards , heartbeats, sweat factor, poundage increase. Well you get the picture. You write Marianne that our comments give you motivation, well YOU give us major motivation. So we’re all helping one another . I’m grateful. There’s a little bit of everyone I take everyday and use it to help me get through the exercises. This isn’t always easy. If I don’t feel like working out then I don’t. I just don’ t make it a habit . Like I said once before , the universe will still unfold as it should, should I not work out that day. Enough said. Let’s all try a little harder in 2011, set your goals and remember ….. I CAN’T MEANS I WON’T !!!!
    Cheers ,

  5. Marrianne, Two years ago I had a corotid artery 90% blocked. I asked the Dr. (who did the surgery) why me? I eat healthy and workout 6 days a week. He said, even though your colestrol numbers are excellent and you have a heart of a 25 year old, sometimes it just happens, but I will tell you one thing. If it wasn’t for your diet and being fit, I probably wouldn’t be here holding this conversation with you and telling you your a going home tomorrow. That is my motivation. I think everyone should keep there body in tip-top shape. I’m sixty one years old and in the last quarter of my life. I’m hoping to go into double overtime.I’ve been actively working out for 11 years now. i’m a maintenance director at a nursing home. I see people missing both legs because of diabetes. I see people on O2 because they smoked for 50 years. If you want to feel motivated, go to a nursing home and look at these people because if you don’t changed your life style, you probably end up just like they did if you don’t die first. I have a lot more to say but I am going to stop right now.
    One more thing. When you see people that has lost weight and are trying their best, please compliment them on how good they look. That in itself put people in a motivated mood knowing they are getting somewhere.Amen

    1. Wow, VERY motivating story, you are very lucky! Did you get a carotid endardectomy? I have seen the same sorry sights and I see people coming for bipass surgery who have abused their bodies all their adult lives, and they really play with their chances of surviving the surgery! If someone manages to turn a corner and make changes, these should be acknowledged.

      My granda smoked from he was 9 – 60 odd, he was an binge alcoholic, but gave up the drink (eventually in his 60’s) and became a Christian. His story was truely inspirational too. I know this is not fitness related, but he would’ve been is a worse state, had he not given up, when he needed heart surgery in his 70’s. He lived to 81 πŸ™‚

      I nursed a patient, when I worked in the Renal unit, who had eaten themself to nearly 30 stone, WITHOUT their legs!An non-complient Insulin dependent diabetic, who was so arrogant that this person “knew best”, that they died of diabetic Kidney disease! A highly intelligent person, with zero respect for their body. Why do we abuse ourselves, when we only have one body? It’s an interesting topic, I can see how you’d have a lot more to say.

      Thanks Jim


      1. I did have a carotid endardectomy. I was at the gym when I had the TIA that lasted about 3 hours.I spent 2 days in the hospital before they figured out what was wrong with me.
        You talked about the patient who was obese and gained 30 stones. How about all the nurses you work with. I have met probably over 100 nurses that worked at the 2 nursing homes I worked at and I would say that 90% of them are obese. They range from in there twenties to over sixty. I would say at least a 3rd of them smoke. You would think they would know better since they are in the medical field. Everyday I see them eating donuts, cookies and candy. Families bring them treats or they bring in their own daily.I got one nurse to start working out. It lasted about 3 weeks and she sprained her ankle. I told her about some exercises she could do on a chair. She opted for the quarter pound donuts. She gained her few pounds back plus more. I tell people about your site all the time. I guess it like the old saying goes, you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink.I too am an advocate of good health. I just want people to realize what they are doing to their body and how it will effect them in later life. You are young and you had your share of health issues and you did something about it. I take my hat off to you and in your journey through life may you always have the strength to overcome what ever comes your way. At least you would have given it your best shot and that is all you can do. THE REST IS IN GOD’S HANDS!
        Now go pump some iron.

        1. Thanks Jim. You must have been so scared when you had the TIA, especially so young. CVA’s, MI’s and basically the whole disease process runs very high in my family, I pray I never have to go though it. Thank you for sharing this.

          You’re right about the nurses btw, most are out of shape, some a very out of shape and a handful are walking disasters. It’s frustrating, because they ask for my advice, but never do anything. They all want a quick fix, and that ain’t possible. That’s the first thing I say to people – it’s going to be a long, hard BUT very rewarding journey, and I give a realistic timeframe. When I worked day shifts, I always got made fun of because I was trying to be healthy, while they ate rubbish from the canteen. And the SMOKING … cardiac nurses, smoking where patients can see them. Overweight cardiac nurses giving post op advice on how to reduce risk factors – it’s sad. But, like you say, you can’t make them drink :/

          I’m not perfect either, I have my share of bad habit and excuses, but in the big picture I think leading by example is the best port of call.

          Thanks again, I’m sure you have some stories to tell from the nursing home πŸ˜‰

  6. Hi Marianne,
    I’ll make my comment short and sweet. Getting started IS the hardest part w/ any new beginning workout regimen . Once you get past that your good to go. The need for strength, looking good, feeling healthy has to be stronger than the desire to sit , blob and eat. Also, if your naked in front of the mirror and don’t like what you see , DO something about it. Working out in the morning is my favorite time. There are days that I’ll procrastinate but …no matter the time I GET IT DONE. No excuses. I’ll feel crappy if I don’t do it.

  7. Great article Marianne! Motivation really is the make or break of any goal.

    This years Dublin marathon was the first real goal I made in fitness terms and really stuck to, up until I had to stop running because of injury. But after I couldn’t do it I kinda felt a bit of me was missing, it was sooo mental!! I think thats the bad side of one-tracked motivation. I was so focused on doing the marathon and so down that I couldn’t do it that I didn’t see that I stuck to doing exercise continuously for 8 months. Which is the most I’ve exercised ever. If marathon training has taught me anything, its that if I have a goal I really want I’ll put the time in, which I never thought possible. Finally I have a new simple, balanced exercise plan o’ action and I have my motivation back!

    One trick I’ve used to make sure I get exercise in is not to think too much about doing it, just do it! It can be really easy to talk yourself out of it sometimes!!

    This site is a great resource, it really gives me motivation seeing you with so much motivation for this website and helping other people!!

    Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Good advice – don’t think, just do! I like this πŸ™‚

      I agree about the “one-track” goal, if you don’t see results, it slips further away and motivation follows it. I must not think about whether to do a workout before bed!! :/ Must just do it! Maybe a wee 18min interval blast.


  8. Such an important issue that I think we all struggle with at one time or another. There are a few things that I find helpful when it comes to motivation:

    Set goals, write them down, reflect and reset the goal on a weekly or monthly basis. I use to only focus on trying to look a certin way or reaching a certin “goal weight”. After finding your site and Melissa’s site I have changed my focus to reaching different fitness goals(pushups, pullups etc) and I have noticed a HUGE difference in my body and mind. The more I focus on my goal the stronger I become and the more motivated I stay….not to mention my body is changing for the first time in a LONG time but thats now just an added bonus.

    The second thing I have found helpful is routine! I work Mon-Fri and schedule my workout as part of my day just as I do with work. It has become such a part of my routine I dont even give myself the option of thinking about skipping my workout. The weekends are where it gets tough….im still working on weekend motivation:(

    Coming to your site is also a huge help! As soon as you post a workout im dying to get home and try it! Thank you for motivating all of us:):)

    1. I’m sure weekends are harder, especially when you’ve worked so much all week.

      The same thing happened me with the “weight” thing, once I focused on other stuff, the rest fell into place and I am much happier for it. I have less “fat” days now LOL, glad you had a similar experience, it’s freeing!

  9. Marianne,
    Awesome post, and right on the money. It is tough after a layoff, one day turns into two, etc, etc..I took some time off just after Thanksgiving (stitches)and a week turned into 2..then you tell yourself its okay to take a break, then its 3 weeks and you find yourself reluctant to get back and train.
    I have found that recalling the great feeling after a good workout, and focusing on that helps alot…and i promise myself a reward to get back into the mix…pizza works well in this
    This time for me, was getting into the kettlebells . Finding your channel here was the kicker. Read your Christmas rant, watched some tutorials, and couldn’t wait to get going. Sometimes a new variation to my workout, or something exotic to my normal routine will re-motivate to get busy.
    Thanks for all you do here..
    PS- I’m a police officer, with a similar schedule I’d imagine to your own..with all the articles, videos, recipes, etc…when do you sleep? wondering

    1. This is what I meant when I said that goals and motivations evolve over time, something new pops up and we like it. I realised I could be quite strong, so I love that training, not overly fussed on cardio, so I make myself do it LOL

      Glad you’ve found KBs, and it’s got you out of a rut, it’s a really hard thing to do, especially when doing nothing becomes normal – it’s a nightmare to break away, so well done for that!

      Yeah the shifts can suck, but do police not do even stranger shifts than docs and nurses? Usually all my nights are in a row, so I am up 24hours the first day and night, go home, answer comments and do a little typing or editing, say “hi” and “bye” to poor Andrew LOL, go to bed from 11am “ish” till maybe 3.30pm, get up answer more comments, do more typing and editing (I like to have a little stock pile of material, for the work days), then head to work. On my last night I am up all night and all day, just plundering on. When I do a workout I film it. I have a system, sort of. But I really do love what I do on here, and kinda wish I had more time for it. The response is great and everyone is so nice. Everyone has similar goals and can offer great advice too so I really think the forum will be a great asset here when I get it organised. Still compiling stuff for it.

      It’s funny, I am much better at writing thoughts than speaking them, so it’s no surprise I enjoy writing replies. In person I’m more reserved, until I get a bee in my bonnett about something and start ranting of course πŸ˜‰

      1. So far, in my brief time here, you are 2 for 2 in rants, so rant on!
        My work week is 3 8 hour shifts, 2200 to 0600, and one 16 hour shift, 1400 until 0600. I too am usually up for 24 hours the first day, and the last night (day) I nap for a few hours so as not to be up all night on my days off. The hours can be tough on the uninitiated, so your Andrew must be a good man. My wife is an RN, so she gets it..the big problem , from a conditioning standpoint as far as being a police officer goes, is conditioning, Despite what you see on TV, alot of the day is spent driving around…it can be quite sedentary, even when you are busy. And we eat like crap, because it’s difficult to find time to sit for a proper meal. But it pays the bills..:-) So finding time to maintain good conditioning is important, both from a health stanpoint as well as survival…often its sitting for a few hours, then in a flash, the fight is on…anyway..
        a new goal..I tried the vertical swing burpee that you suggested. It needs I can squat down well enough, but only if my feet are about a foot apart. I’m as flexible as an ironing board. The box squats were great, but this one is getting the best of me.. Any suggestions?

        1. 16 hours!!!!! That sucks! Some of our docs do 24 hour shifts, and I don’t know how they can think, let alone get any time to train. It’s ironic that most docs and nurses are out of shape because they live out of the vending machine. When I worked long days (0730 – 2100) I had about 4 tupperware containers with me and people used to laugh. But I guess when you’re out driving, you’d need to have a portable fridge in tow LOL It’s hard – but it’s possible.

          Because you sppend a lot of time in a car, you will more than likely have tight and/or weak hip flexors, this will make your lower back flexibility crap and this may be affecting your squat. Also try an even wider stance, like the one for the vertical swing. If you look at my warm up video you’ll see me do a move where I get down in to a push up position and bring one foot up level to my hand? When in that position, let yourself sink down and feel a stretch in the opposite hip flexor, and around the glutes of the forward leg, then swap, do this a few times and then repeat your squat. Also in my warm up vid I stand, bend down to grab my feet and while holding them I pull myself into a deep squat, and repeat, feeling a stretch down the hamstrings and inner leg as well as the hips. Basically, my warm up had a lot of good mobility stuff for hips, hammies and lower back, which are problem areas. So I would extend the warm up for you.

          I hope this helps, but flexibility can take a while to build up, as tightness is like the body’s bad habit πŸ™‚


  10. Hi Marianne!
    Here’s what I do when I’m lazy but I know that instead of lying on the couch I could do a workout:
    I turn on my workout music! There are certain songs that will always make me want to move.
    As soon as I hear them I get off of the couch and just do it πŸ™‚

    1. Great tip – I really must get some music! I never workout to music. But I do get settled on the sofa or computer chair very quickly. Andrew listens to heavy metal music when he trains, must be all that anger gets him going LOL!

      Feeling guilty now, I’m sitting here instead of at the gym or doing a workout as i promised myself! Nice to know though I’m not the only one being lazy sometimes πŸ˜€

  11. i’m usually pretty good at getting myself to the gym… except this week! ah! i started a new job and then got a cold so working out with a stuffy nose is not fun… and extra exhausting. hopefully next week i’ll feel better and actually get my butt in the gym before work, like i had planned.

    1. Think illness aside, the first week of Jan is hard to get things going, but it’s possible – I’m still a little slow, but nearly there. Thanks for commenting. Good luck with the gym next week. I plan to go in the morning after work πŸ˜‰


      1. If you get the January blues… or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), try grapefruit essential oil or anything scented of grapefruit. It is well know in aromatherapy. Sometimes just a certain scent can help make you feel better, and in this case, a little more energized.

        ~ Gillian

        1. Does the grapefruit work if you eat it? I have some on the counter now and I need motivation to do the exercise. I love to read how great it is, how it gives you strength. then as Marianne pointed out, when I do not see or feel results, it’s not motivating to do it. Food gives me great satisfaction. Exercise does not give me that great feeling.. So,I still need something. I have colored circles on my calander now and I’m using those to motivate. The goal is put up a circle each day but I”m allowed 2 days no circles. Just started this this year so I can make a change. Michael Jackson said it has to start with me, the woman in the mirror.

  12. What an absolutely amazing time to bring this up! I had a great Christmas, but not excessive until my husband and I went to visit friends over New Year’s. Then it was eat, eat, eat, watch movies and talk. I actually brought my bells with me and I worked out, hard, but on the trip back home I got some kind of intestinal bug and I was miserable for exactly 24 hours. I got really dehydrated so I took it easy for another day. Today is my fist day back to KBs and I did a mild workout with only 15 # and I am so bushed. No abs, no pushups, no pullups, unlikely I will do them later either! Getting sick is a good excuse, but breaking through it afterwards is really hard. At least I did something, so the excuse cycle is broken for today!

    I was just reading something about motivation elsewhere and these are some other points that might help… use the SMART goals system, but make it SMARTER:
    1. S: set specific goals
    2. M: make them measurable.
    3. A: set goals to which you can be made accountable — make progress charts, post on a forum…
    4. R: set realistic goals
    5. T: make them time bound — have a deadline.
    6. E: give them emotion; how will you feel when you achieve those goals? Connect your goals to your values.
    7. R: Review these goals regularly. Write the biggest goal on a card and carry with you at all times.

    To that list, I would add, make an image board of your goals — pictures from magazines or the web that you can look at… maybe bodies that you would like to have, places you would like to go.. whatever the goal, give yourself images and then picture those images in your mind, so you are visualizing them. (While you are at at, take ‘before’ pictures, and progress pictures, so you can document and appreciate the changes.)

    The more realistic you can make the goal, the more emotional connection you will have to it: so try to find all the sensations you can to associate with the goal — does it have a taste, a sound, a smell, a sound? How does it make you feel?

    With this list, you’d think I was good at this, but I have a terrible time, so I do one last thing: I write timetables and check lists of little steps toward my goals. Then I review them daily.

    For working out, having a weeklong and month long plan really helps stay on track, because I feel the need to make up anything I might miss, so I rarely skip a day. I write everything down in my log, including how I feel both physically and mentally. I workout in the morning, since I know the longer I wait, the less likely I will workout. I try to have a routine, so working out is part of that routine.

    And of course… coming to this blog! This is our workout community, where we get ideas and support. I don’t know why it really helps, but it does!

    Thank you so much for doing this Marianne! Hey, don’t be bummed that Christmas is over, just thin how great this year will be with such a great community!

    ~ Gillian

    1. Gillian, sorry to hear you were unwell, yeah that really puts a spanner in the workouts! I’ve been feelin sluggish, but it’s because I am a chocolate bin right now, but it’s all gone – so back on track!

      Thank you thank you for these great ideas, I like your style, wish I was as organised as you πŸ™‚ I make tick lists in work, but must try them here, I will need a big list for the next few months (for the site mainly). But I find motivation for the site so much easier than going to the gym for example, I love this community too and always look forward to the morning and seeing the comments and stories – THAT motivates me πŸ˜€

      Oh btw, I HIGHLY recommend to anyone to follow your tip about working out in the morning when possible – I’m the same if I leave it too late! And this is why I do workouts after night shift in the morning – I’d be way to tired when I get up in the afternoon to do anything but sit on my butt :/

      Thanks for taking the time to write thing great advice πŸ™‚

      Off to work now πŸ™ wonder will I make the gym in the morning as planned ? mmm


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