15 Things to Tell Yourself When You Want to Quit

By , SparkPeople Blogger
On day two of my hike to Machu Picchu, I was beat. My lungs felt like they were going to explode, my quads had quit and the calves were violently cursing me. As my body traded insults about which part was in the most pain, my brain kicked in. "Hey guys, let's all just relax, I've got some Queen queued up," she said. "All together now: Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time. I feel ali-hi-hi-hive and the world, it's turning inside out! I'm floating around in ecstasy. So don't stop me now. Don't stop me, 'cause I'm having a good time, having a good time!"
Freddie and friends carried me all the way through the tears that tough day two and on to the Sun Gate two days later. When that quitting part of the brain starts raising its voice, it's staring myself in the mirror and repeating that classic Marine saying, "Pain is weakness leaving the body," or mouthing the words to "Work This Body" that keeps me going. Angry breakup song lyrics work well, or sometimes it's literally visualizing looking like a rock star in that dress I bought last month. Whether it's a breathing technique, mantra, your group fitness instructor shouting a one-sentence inspiration or song that keeps you going, having the ability to power through that moment of wanting to quit is key in any kind of training.
In fact, your brain is actually wired to keep you from discomfort, meaning that when you're pushing your body to its perceived limit, your brain will step in to "protect you" from yourself. According to a CNN interview with Dr. Emma Ross of the English Institute of Sport, your brain senses muscles deteriorating from fatigue and will do what it can to keep them from being damaged. "In an untrained person the [central nervous system] is quite conservative but shifts as you train," Dr. Ross says.
Train your brain to overcome those natural barriers and you'll be shocked by the things you're able to complete. Which is why having an inspirational saying can mean the difference between defeat and dominance. It can be all too easy for your brain to talk you out of pushing your body to the next level, so steal one of these motivational sayings submitted by SparkPeople staff and members and reach that next level of fitness prowess, whether that means hitting a new PR walking on the treadmill or completing that last set of bicep curls with the heavier weight. 

When the Going Gets Tough

Chris "SparkGuy" Downie: In this situation, there are a few things I do. I challenge myself to get better every day, knowing that this short-term workout challenge will lead to positive results and major breakthroughs in all areas of life if done consistently. I visualize my goals that will be easier with improved fitness, like being a better father. I [also] track my average fitness minutes per day, so during a tough workout, I know that each minute helps me maintain or increase that average. This [mindset] helps keep me from stopping while nobody is watching because that average is a coach for me.

Mike Honkomp, Ad Operations and Yield Director: What keeps me going? I think about how far I have come and what I used to be. Thinking of how out of shape I was four years ago, not able to run a quarter mile or do two pushups, [and] that is usually enough to keep me going.
TRACEE5: You just hit three miles—I bet you can't make it to 3.5! I love challenging myself!
Melissa Rudy, Digital Health and Fitness Journalist: If I'm struggling during a run or workout, I will often say things like, "You're strong" or "Can't stop, won't stop." It's amazing how just saying the words out loud can change my mindset and remove the option to quit.
MOMMO77: Stopping when it got hard was what got me where I am now. Keeping going will get me where I want to be.

Jen Mueller, Community Director: When I’m in the middle of a hard run or totally spent hitting pads during Muai Thai, I remind myself that I would never want my kids to see me quit. My mantra is "Be tough for them!"
Rachel VonNida, Vice President Accounting: When I am running and feeling like I want to stop, I take a deep breath and try to relax my brain. I try to clear my head and enjoy the moment or song I am listening to or view or running partner.
MOTIVATED@LAST: Slow down, recover and then go again. Just don't stop.
Paul Elfers, Vice President Engineering: When I'm in that spot—lungs hurting, legs hurting, ready to quit—I have the audio from these two videos among my mp3s. When I'm running or working out, I'll sometimes put them on as "music" and they're pretty motivating.
Amanda Kanaga, Chief Revenue Officer: I say a few things when I do my boot camps, spin classes or go for a run: no pain, no gain; make my kids proud; defy age; be that strong mom; don't let someone else win; and feel the burn, it's my turn!

Elizabeth Lowry, Assistant Editor: I usually just tell myself, "If you quit now you're just going to have to do it all over again, so shut up and finish."
RUBYREDSTAR19: You'll never make it to the Olympics if you don't keep pushing!
Merle King, Customer Support Specialist: I try to tell myself, "It is easier to keep going than it is to stop and restart later." Sometimes it's, "Just 10 more minutes! Surely I can do anything for 10 minutes."
MLAN613: Each step gets you closer to the finish line—and there's a medal at the finish line!
Kelly Crockett, Office Manager and Human Resources Coordinator: When I feel like stopping in the middle of a workout, I remember that I can do anything for five more minutes! When that five minutes is up, I tell myself I can do anything for two more minutes! When this seven minutes have passed, I'm generally past my "Make this stop hurting" point and I can focus on why I work out—which, let's be clear, is so I can have a glass of wine without guilt!

What do you tell your body when your brain tries to tell you to stop?

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EVILCECIL 9/13/2020
Good ideas. Thanks. Report
CECELW 8/2/2020
I love some of these quotes! Report
CD18062374 2/5/2020
thanks Report
GRAMMYD11 1/24/2020
Great advice on self motivation, I do some of it new tricks thank you Report
SURFIE 12/13/2019
Some good motivation in here for when my "want-to" is lacking, but my body is capable of more. Obviously using common sense to know when your body is nearing its limit - and stopping before you cause an injury - is also important to consider. Report
MNABOY 10/20/2019
Thanks Report
KATHYJO56 10/10/2019
Awesome-I just tell myself to "Believe" Report
I LOVE this article! Stopping is what got me here.
I DON’T want to start over. Don’t want my kids to
see me stop.
“I want it all, and I want it now.”—Queen Report
I'm getting tired of the drumroll: Don't quit, don't quit, don't quit. Sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do. Pushing yourself to injury is the height of recklessness. Bad form is dangerous. Ignorance of your limits can kill you. I firmly believe in quitting when you're ahead. Report
I don't like this article. You should be friends with your brain. If you are at the proper fitness level, it won't feel like a workout is too hard. Gradually get aclimated to it! You don't need to be acting like gladiators. That's how you get injured easily. Report
Great ideas!!! Report
Thanks. Report
Thank you. Some very helpful tips here. Report
Focus. Report
I prefer taking classes at my gym; the instructor or trainer and my classmates keep me motivated to do my best Report
I think if you are in pain you should stop. If it's just a little discomfort, then stop & evaluate. A tiny pebble in the shoe 👟would need to come out rather than irritate & cause a blister. You have to know yourself; what is important. I'm not on a tight deadline 📅to walk the equivalent of going to NYC so if I only walk 15 or 20 🕰minutes one day that's okay. The next day I will make it up. If I decide to do 45 minutes, also okay. Currently I track 📈my activity by time & less about how much distance I cover. When hula hooping, you don't count how many times it spins🤔 so someday when I have my own fitness room w/ a treadmill that could change. I've never been a Type A hence my totem.🐨 Report
Thanks for the info Report
All great points. When I hit a wall on the treadmill, I will usually set a time limit or a specific calorie count as my focus point. It also helps to turn up the music and get lost in a song that I like. Report
Still great ideas! Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Thank you! Report
Thanks. Some good ideas. Report
Great ideas! I can do anything for 5 minutes! Report
I set my timer for 17 minutes and then see how I am doing. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
When I'm on the treadmill and ready to quit, I usually say "I'll go for 1 more minute, then I'm done." When that minute has gone by I'll say "I can go for 1 more minute, then I'll quit." By the time I stop adding "1 more minute," I've probably gone for 10 or 15 minutes. It's a similar thing with weights (I can do 1 more rep or set...etc.). Report
'It's not that I completed the rep, move, set, mile, etc. that I'm proud of.
It's that I had the strength, power, bravery, and courage to do so!'
~Forever_Agape~ Report
All great 😀 ideas-- thanks! Report
These are all great as lately I have been feeling sluggish. Thx SP Report
Great inspiration! Report
Great Article Report
These will come in handy Report
thanks Report
Thanks ! Report
I have never been athletic and now as a 65 yo senior, I can sometimes work through pain, but not usually at a lot of the levels mentioned here. I am not the Marine mentality. But I do push myself to try a little harder frequently. sometimes I end up with injury or soreness that can last a month or more. So, I am careful. If this works for you, good. Report
thanks Report
This is such good advice. Thank You. Report
These are fantastic suggestions. I feel like I need a printable list for my cube wall when I don't feel like taking a walk.

Not sure why someone would read this article if they didn't want suggestions from people they (probably) didn't know? Report
I care little for what other people say/do. I don't know the people offering suggestions or advice.

Bottom line, If I want to stop, I will stop. If an activity is boring or difficult to the point of not enjoying it, why continue. There are many other options that I will enjoy. Report
love the suggestions. Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
I never want to give up. Report
Some.favorites, Die fat die! You are strong! You are a beast! And a Jillian Michaels favorite, "if you dont faint, puke, or die keep going!" Report
Keeping a chart of the miles you walk/run/swim. As you cross them off, you will NEVER have to do that mile again. So keep going to complete that next one, knowing that it will be forever behind you. Report
great advice Report
good advice here Report
I trash talk myself. What's wrong with you - you can't do 5 more? Report