a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Feb, 2008

What can I do to make going to the gym easier on myself?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I asked myself that question – a lot – before I signed up for my membership.

The windchill was minus twentysomething this morning. Oh lor’ was it cold outside. It was hard to motivate myself to go to the gym. (I walk!) But I did it.

Maybe it was the weather, but it was just me and one other woman there this morning. We got to talking about how important it is for women to focus on their health, and how hard it is to stay motivated sometimes.

So without futher ado, I thought I’d share what works for me:

– I keep my gym clothing washed and handy at all times. I keep it in a drawer beside my bed, or, er, sometimes on the floor. When I wake up in the morning I roll out of bed and put it on. No searching.

– I eat a light breakfast beforehand, something that includes fibre. It fills me up.

– I save my coffee for when I come back. Coffee, sipped in leisure in front of the computer in the glow of my sun lamp, is a treat. And I look forward to it everytime I walk back home.

– Even when I feel like utter crap, I tell myself that I’m not going to work out. But I go, planning to only spend ten minutes reading a magazine on the recumbent bike.  Ha ha! I’m actually tricking myself, because once I finish on the bike I feel better, more energized, and ready to tackle a few weights. I’m such a sucker. It works every time.

– Looking good. When I started going to the gym I wore old gym shorts and a baggy t-shirt. I might as well have been wearing an old sack. I felt so depressed. So I spent a few dollars (Joe Fresh!) on fitness gear that fit right and flattered my figure. Now, whenever I see myself in the mirror I see progress. It keeps me motivated.

– I try to remember: it doesn’t take much. I usually start with 25 minutes on the elliptical trainer (brisk walking for 8-10 minutes and then uphill jogging/walking in 1:40 intervals for the rest). I do one circuit on the machines. I do 15-20 reps on each machine (depending on the machine) and I only lift an amount that makes me feel muscle fatigue by my last rep. The whole thing lasts about an hour. That’s it!

– Did you know that muscle burns more calories than fat? If you have more muscle you use up more calories when you’re resting. I like that.

– I don’t do this to lose weight, I do this to be healthy. I don’t want to be hung up on that little number on the scale.

– I try to be proud of my accomplishments, no matter how small. If I’m on the bike riding slowly, I tell myself hey, at least I’m here, on the bike. Something is still better than nothing.

– Sweat is good. It means my body is working hard. Some people equate sweat with lost calories. i.e. Every drop of sweat is a drop of fat off your butt/thighs/whatever. Hey, whatever works!

– Bringing music! If I didn’t have my iPod shuffle loaded with my favourite motivational music I wouldn’t work nearly as hard as I do. It really gets me going, AND blocks out everything else. The music you bring should be something that makes you feel good. i.e I wouldn’t exactly call this a feminist anthem of the new millennium, but for some reason the chorus of this song makes me want to raise my arms with a jazzy flourish and leap across the room. This one too. I even sing along! Well, okay, I mouth these as loudly as I can.

And my last motivating factor (and this might sound morbid), is that I do this for my family. They need a happy, healthy mom, and I want to be around for as long as I can. I look at it this way, every hour I spend at the gym might be an extra hour I get to spend with my family. And I think that’s the best reason of all.

[ETA: check out the great fitness tips over at Zen Habits. There’s lots of good stuff there.]


9 Responses to "What can I do to make going to the gym easier on myself?"

1 | J.

February 12th, 2008 at 10:48 am


Those are all really good tips. Thanks for sharing. :)

2 | Miss Vicky

February 12th, 2008 at 11:10 am


Good tips, all. I have just started back at the gym and have set a modest goal of twice a week. I go at lunch, as family stuff means mornings and after work are out. I take classes because they’re structured and I don’t have to think… and I often push myself harder than I might if I were just doing my own training.

3 | Mark

February 12th, 2008 at 11:12 am


Sheena Easton ? You learn something er…new… about your spouse every day.

4 | Renee

February 12th, 2008 at 11:24 am


Amen sister!!!
I too practice a lot of your tips and the biggest one about doing it for health is especially true! Since when did my knees start to creak and my back complain?! LOL I still think I’m 19 so why is my body telling me otherwise?! LOL
Keep on sweatin’. I’m right there with you.

5 | The Veggie Vixen

February 12th, 2008 at 12:35 pm


Good for you, hot mama! :-)

6 | porter

February 12th, 2008 at 2:08 pm


I think the tip about just going and telling yourself you will just read a magazine and do ten minutes is the best advice of em all…it works for me, and I’m still totally new to the gym scene. Oh and looking good…there are mirrors everywhere in my gym (like most) and if I don’t look good then I don’t feel all that good.

7 | porter

February 12th, 2008 at 2:10 pm


I’m not judging you I swear…but 9-5??? Hee hee…funny!

8 | ciaochow

February 12th, 2008 at 4:01 pm


Great post! Thanks for sharing. I have an elliptical machine at home that was, frankly, starting to collect some dust. When we first bought it, I was on it six days a week for a year. Then I burnt out. Too much of one thing.

But now I’m back on it and things are looking up. My regime is to do something every day in addition to walking to/from work and walking the dogs for a couple of km. That something may be 30 mins on the elliptical or going to yoga class or Bollywood dance class. I’ve just learned to keep it varied and interesting and fun!

9 | Chantal

February 13th, 2008 at 9:44 am


Good reminder of why I go to the gym. I just lost my gym buddie (she changed jobs and isn’t close enough to join me anymore) and I need all the motivation I can get. I like the idea of the music. I don’t have an i-pod, but my birthday is a mere two months away. Lots of hint time!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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