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Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Think You're Too Heavy to Exercise? - Part 2

How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert
Ever find yourself forced to politely listen to someone (like me) talk about how much they used to hate exercise, but now really love it? If you’re like I was a few years ago, you probably wished you knew what pills this clown was taking, so you could get your hands on some of them for yourself. Or maybe you just wanted to reach out and gently knock that obnoxious smile right off their face.

Either way, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to buy the chemicals that make exercise feel good and rewarding—your body makes them all by itself. They’re called beta-endorphins. As you’ve probably already heard on the Message Boards and read in the Resource Center, it's true that if you can put in that first 10 minutes of exercise, the endorphins will kick in and make it much easier (maybe even fun) to keep going.

So, now you’re probably asking questions like…
"That’s nice, but what about those first 10 minutes?"
"What am I supposed to do if 10 minutes is all I can handle at once, on a good day?"
"What’s the point of putting myself through all this discomfort just to burn roughly enough calories to burn off one pound every other month or so?”

WELCOME! You have just arrived at article #2 in a three-part series, and we’ll focus here on building and maintaining both your motivation and your progress. (Part 1 got you started safely and effectively, and Part 3 will focus on some special goal-setting and problem-solving techniques that can help you get through the toughest days—and have a lot less of them.)

Please check to make sure your seat belt is securely fastened, all snacks are stowed away, and your Barcalounger is returned to full upright position, in preparation for departure.

Yes, it’s true that when you set your sights on your long-term goal of losing a lot of weight, all the little things you can do along the way seem pretty insignificant. If I had a dollar for every time I talked myself into staying on the couch, by thinking of the 100 calories I'd burn with a couple of trips around the block as trivial, I could afford to retire. And I’d need all that money, because I wouldn’t be able to get off the couch at all by now, much less work.

So, let’s get real here for a minute. The reality is that the only thing that will get you where you want to be is the same little thing you don’t want to do because it seems so insignificant. That’s life—we want drama and spectacle, we get 10 minutes on the treadmill. All you can ever do is what is right in front of you, right now, in this moment. Everything else is history or fantasy. If it’s meaning you want, try doing whatever is in front of you as well as you possibly can.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Great article. Keep them coming. - 7/13/2013 11:16:33 AM
    exercised for the first time!...I think i can ...thanks - 2/3/2013 7:01:15 AM
  • Dean, you really get it! Your article spoke to me...I was feeling anxious just reading it and felt like running into the kitchen to eat something! Instead your article fed a part of me I thought nobody else understood. I can do this, thank you! - 1/31/2013 10:01:17 AM
  • Great column. It is easy to discount a little exercise as both hard and insignificant (because it doesn't bring double digit results immediately). But small doses bring strength and endurance built step by step over time.

    You sure won't get more fit and trim by sitting on the couch. - 12/20/2012 8:10:53 AM
  • Thanks for this article. I was just about to bail out on exercising today. I also thought of something.....I have not been counting the 2x daily walks with my dog. I walk him morning and night and have not been thinking of this as exercise! Usually I do a 45 min workout video or 11 min chair exercise in addition to the dog walking. So I am doing more than what I thought! I will include your 3 points in my daily journal log that I maintain on my fitness page. Luckily you can track all of this on Spark!! - 10/8/2012 8:59:01 PM
  • Man did I need to hear this today just got back from a 30 cycle ride and it kicked my butt. Only been a member for 3 days but loving all the helpful hints!! - 7/10/2012 10:59:34 AM
  • Thank you for writing this article(s)! I feel impowered and I am sooo glad to have read an article that understands where I am coming from and feels like you are speaking right to me! I am going to start this week and also keep that journal. The way you wrote the article is so comforting and great. Thank you! - 12/4/2011 9:29:30 PM
  • Thank you so much for this! It's what I needed to finally start the walking exercise dvd I bought 3 months ago! - 12/4/2011 9:12:51 AM
  • PLEASE more articles like this! FANTASTIC! I needed to know this! - 1/31/2010 8:29:48 PM
  • WOW! Reading the article was just what I need! I was going strong for about 4 weeks and then the last 2 weeks I haven't exercised at all - just seemed to make excuse after excuse. I just started back exercising these last two days and wonder to myself why I stopped in the first place. I ALWAYS feel better physically and mentally after I work out.'

    Thanks you for the motivation to keep it moving!!!!

    Kellie :0) - 4/10/2009 8:36:46 PM
  • This is one of the best articles I've read in a very long time! - 12/4/2008 9:38:34 AM
    Dean, what a fabulous article! I love the idea of an exercise journal. - 7/2/2008 1:11:04 PM
  • Great article. Jack LaLanne is 93 and works out two hours every morning of his life. He says he hates to exercise, but he loves the benefits. That is all I keep telling myself. - 3/29/2008 9:12:03 PM
  • It was if you could see right into my struggle. I have been working out for about two months and I find that I am struggling with the before the workout thought patterns. I journal about my workout after the workout but never thought of journaling before and during. I have found though I have a love for exercise that I didn't have before. It is just taking the step to do the exercise. I didn't realize there were others that felt the way I did. - 3/9/2008 5:47:53 PM
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