Finding the motivation to get healthy

This treadmill at the Harrisburg YMCA has my name on it … literally.

I finally joined a gym … again.

I let my last gym membership run out about a year ago because it was in an inconvenient location and I found myself going less and less. The money, I thought, would be better spent on calorie-burning activities that I actually liked.

Throughout the last year, I’ve made good on my fitness commitments through rec sports and Groupon deals on yoga classes — which eventually ran out, leaving me very attached to a studio that charged $18 a class.

But my physical activity wasn’t canceling out all the ice cream I ate.

When a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I’m in Sept. 22 arrived last month, it was a bit more snug than I remembered it being during the fitting. And since I’m too cheap to pay for alterations, I recommitted myself to working out — and maybe eating less ice cream.

I found a gym closer to my apartment, but with a new job, beach vacations and lots of weekend trips, it’s been hard to find time to go regularly.

A few weeks ago when I hung out with Smart Health Challenge winner Jess Reed at Phases Fitness, Jess said that a lot of people had commended her for taking time for herself to get fit. But Jess said she didn’t view working out as “me” time, rather it was time that she needs to invest so she can stay out on the dance floor longer.

The more I thought about it, I realized that I also lacked the mentality of thinking of exercise as “me” time. Heck, I’d much rather be getting my nails done than sweating on a treadmill. As I try to get back on the horse, I think my biggest struggle is finding motivation.

While I’d much rather sit on the couch after a long day at work or sleep in on the weekend than truck over to the gym and listen to my Jay-Z Pandora station, I need to remember how great I feel after I leave (except yesterday — yesterday my calves burned the entire afternoon).

And while Jess’ motivation may be finding the energy to stay out on the dance floor all night, my goal might be gaining enough upper body strength to finally do a pull up on the bar my boyfriend recently installed in our guest bedroom doorway (it taunts me every time I walk past).

Or maybe it’s putting in enough treadmill time to cancel out that small Dairy Queen Blizzard.

Or, at the very least, it could be not busting a zipper while getting into that bridesmaid’s dress next month.

How do you motivate yourself to go to the gym regularly? Share your tips in the comments section below.

April Trotter

Editor of Smart. NEPA transplant. Penn State and Shippensburg grad. Kickball and craft beer enthusiast. Collector of cardigans. "Bennie and the Jets" fanatic. Contact me at, at "Smart magazine" on Facebook, @SmartMagPA on Twitter or by phone at 717-771-2030.

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2 Responses

  1. Sarah Chain says:

    My motivation comes from two things I like even less than exercise — wasting money and getting in trouble. So when my landlord offered me a 24-hour parking spot for $30 a month, I said no thanks and opted to spend that $30 on a gym membership. Now I share a parking spot with my landlord, and have to move my car by 8 a.m. on weekdays. Gives me great motivation to get to the gym rather than pay the parking meters or risk an argument with my landlord.

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