Tip of The Day - How To Force Yourself To Exercise (lose weight)

Replacing my desk chair for an exercise bike works wonders!
The other day I was talking to my brother and he had mentioned how even though he plays sports frequently, it is hard for him to find time to exercise otherwise. I am the same way. Tell me to run after a Frisbee and that is no problem; I can do that for hours. Tell me to run because it is good for me, and I will tell you to take a hike (or I will in fact go on a hike myself).

I thought I would do a post on some tips for "forcing" yourself to exercise.

Tip #1 - Make it Fun

Like I alluded to earlier, I love playing Ultimate Frisbee. I could play that all day long. I also love hiking (not really super great exercise for me, but better than nothing). Tennis is great as well. I have never been one though who has enjoyed aerobics, weightlifting or just going for a jog. I struggle to convince myself that running is worth the effort, and I certainly don't find it enjoyable. I think this is the case for many people. This is ok. Running is not the only way to exercise!

Find something you like. Going for a walk, bike ride, hike, sports etc. Better yet, find someone to do these things with. Who knows, doing unfun things with fun people can make it fun. I am sure if some cute girl asked me to go running with her, I could at least pretend running is fun.

Tip #2 - Incorporate exercise into your daily routine

What if you don't enjoy ANY sport? What if you don't have any friends to do things with? Well, then your life is pretty sad. But that does not mean you can't still exercise.

What is your life like? Wake up, go to school or work, come home and eat dinner, catch up on some projects, do things with friends or family then go to bed... Everyone's schedule is different, but chances are whatever your schedule is, you end up doing something pretty similar every day. Most people have a consistent routine. Figure out a way to incorporate exercise as part of your routine.

Here is what I did:
A couple summers ago I had the sad realization that if I did not want to become very overweight, I would either have to stop eat food, or I would have to exercise. The problem was that I hate exercising and could easily pretend that I did not have time in my busy schedule to exercise. So I set this up.
Replacing my desk chair for an exercise bike works wonders!
This is when I was going to school and living in a tiny apartment. Aside from going to school full time, I was also working two jobs. I was able to organize everything in my room so that I could replace my desk chair with an exercise bike. As you can see from the picture, I was able to mount my laptop on my bike. This meant that if I wanted to do something on the computer, I would need to be on my bike. Might as well ride it while I was on it. This worked great. I would usually come home at about 7:00 each night after work or school. If I had homework I would try to do it at school so I would not have to do it am home. When I got home, I would usually want to take a break, so I would watch TV on and "relax" while I rode my bike.

Now this setup might not work for everyone, but it worked great for me. I spent at least an hour or two every day on that bike and it certainly made a difference. The time I spend on my bike was time that I would have spent on the computer anyhow, so I didn't have to set any extra time aside for exercise.

Other ideas for incorporating exercise into your daily routine:
  • Do you work in a tall office building? Run down the stairs when you get off work.
  • Do you read much? Read on an elliptical machine or exercise bike.
  • On the computer wasting time? Set it up on exercise equipment.
  • How much do you watch TV? Do aerobics while watching television or movies.
  • Going to school? Walk instead of driving.
Tip #3 - Make exercise easy (or at least easier)

Have a smartphone? I have an Android phone with the jefit app. There are literally hundreds or smartphone apps that make exercising easier and fun. Take advantage of these. If you do anything slightly physical during the day, just up it a notch. If you walk places, walk faster or jog. Put some small exercise equipment in your room or by your computer or TV.

Tip #4 - Make yourself responsible

Tell other people what you are doing. Share your goals. Some smartphone apps allow you to do this. I have heard of people blogging about their exercise habits and weight loss goals. If you take a picture of your overweight self everyday and post it on Facebook or online for everyone to see, chances are you will be more motivated to exercise. Find yourself a workout buddy and encourage each other.

Tip #5 -  Don't worry about the expensive equipment or memberships

I am cheap. I get cheap stuff. For me doing pushups is a lot cheaper than doing bench presses. The equipment I own are dumbbells with weights, exercise bands and a pull up bar. You can get all this for less than $100.

I no longer live in a small college apartment, and I don't have my sweet setup with my exercise bike, but I still exercise while I watch Hulu on my computer. It may sound dumb, but I jump up and down during commercial breaks, and run in place during the show I am watching. It may not be the best exercise, but it is a good workout and it is much better than just watching a show without doing anything at all.

Tip #6 - Eating well is like a fake version of exercise

I like food. If given the option, I could probably eat nonstop for the rest of my life. I learned though, that to not be overweight, I have to eat healthy and I can't eat all the time. Being cheap like I am, I found out that you can get fruit (healthy) pretty cheap if you get what is in season or buy fruit right as it is becoming overripe. I have had a handful of checker girls ask me if I was a monkey because when bananas go on sale (and they are super cheap when they are) I will stock up and buy almost of shopping cart full of bananas to take home and freeze. I don't like eating bananas, but they are perfect in fruit smoothies. You can do this with just about any fruit.

Have other tips for how to force yourself to exercise or eat healthy? Post a comment.

About McKay


  1. I find it hard to believe that a handful (which normally means at least three) people have asked you if you're a monkey.

    Maybe that was a stab at sarcasm or humor, but it didn't happen. The odds of multiple people asking you if you're a monkey for buying bananas is slim to none.

    Don't lie to your readers.

  2. Thanks for the self promotion Fred. If I wanted to lie, I would probably make it a bit more cool, like "A handful of people have asked me if I was Brad Pitt."

    When you buy three bags of bananas at the grocery store, people don't really know what else to say other than asking if you are a monkey. Not exactly something I would brag about ("Hey, that's awesome... I just got asked if I was a monkey"). It was simply a way to illustrate the fact that I buy a lot of bananas.

  3. The laptop/bike setup is great. Also, tip # 4 - I just read "Willpower" by somebody named Baumeister, I think - a research psychologist - very helpful, and apparently there's a lot of research showing that social reinforcement - smartphone aps, etc. - really works.


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