21 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Posted by on 17 March at 3:21 pm

Just like you, there are days when I just don’t feel like exercising.

Take yesterday, for instance.  I had risen at 5am to get to the airport in San Diego for my return flight to Bellingham.  I had a fantastic – but tiring – 10 days of 2 conferences + tennis camp/tournament at PNB Paribas in Indian Wells.  OK, it wasn’t ALL work :-).

– see the picture to the right – I got to try some crazy equipment at the IHRSA conference……

Robin is about to pedal into orbit...or something

I am in a bicycle pod, about to pedal into orbit…or something

But travelling and being away can be draining.

As we arrive back home, we are greeted by grey skies and pouring rain.  Not exactly inspiring weather to be outside.

And then there is the mundane – unpacking, laundry, mail…..

By 5:30 pm I still hadn’t exercised and REALLY didn’t feel like it.

It helps when you have a buddy (that would be my husband) to prod you along..and off the couch.

So we both went to our creepy dark basement, set up our bikes on trainers, and did a sweat inducing indoor cycling ride.

Why did I get moving?  Well yesterday it was because I knew I’d feel better, my husband was encouraging me, my knees were achy, and I wanted to burn the calories.

HERE ARE 21 MOTIVATIONAL TIPS that may just help you get off the couch.

And I’d love to hear about your motivational ideas too – just leave a comment below!

1.  You’ll feel better.   This is my #1 reason to exercise.  I always feel better after a good workout.  You get the happy endorphins flowing and your mood is instantly brighter.  Plus you know you’ve done something good for your body.

2.  You’ll burn calories.  Exercise is one of the best ways to manage your weight.  The more you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn.  And the more intensely you exercise the more you’ll burn during the time you are working out.

3.  You never regret the workouts you do, only the ones you miss.

4.  The time will pass and either you get the benefits of exercise or you don’t.  Since exercise will always help you to have a healthier life, choose to exercise.  Are you going to choose lazy and fat or energetic and lean?

5.  Stress Relief.  When you are carrying a load on your shoulders, exercise is one of the best ways to release that stress.  Again, let’s be thankful for endorphins.

6.  Look in the Mirror.  If you are trying to change your shape with fat loss or increased muscle tone, it won’t happen when you sit on the couch.  Get off the couch and move toward your “skinny jeans.”

7.  Look in your Medicine Cabinet.  You can reduce or eliminate some medications by becoming healthier through exercise.  Save yourself gobs of money that you’ll spend on health care and expensive prescriptions by improving your health one day at a time… get moving.  Spend that money instead on a fun, active vacation!

8.  Start with just 10 minutes.  If you really are struggling with the idea of a workout, just commit to 10 minutes.  Chances are that once you get going you’ll keep going.  And who doesn’t have just 10 minutes?  10 minutes for your health are better than zero.

9.  Time to Think.  I love letting my mind wander while I workout.  When else do you get the luxury during the day to do this?  Some of my best ideas come to me while exercising.

10.  A Gift to Yourself.  It is all about you and probably the best thing you do for yourself all day.  As you make yourself stronger and healthier, you’ll be better equipped to help others.

11.  Register for an Event.  Events, like a 5 K or a charity ride 50 or 100 miler, provide motivation to stay on track with your training.  The event will arrive and you’ll feel so much better if you have trained well for it.  Create a training plan for your event and stick to it.

12.  Find a Workout Buddy.  Working out with a friend will help you motivate each other.

13.  Hire a Coach or Personal Trainer.  The expertise of a coach or personal trainer will help you get results faster and keep you accountable.

14.  Sign up for a Class.  The camaraderie of the group provides loads of energy.  Plus they might wonder where you are if you miss out.  Working out with friends is fun.

15.  Take a “Before” Picture.  Put the picture where you see it regularly to motivate you to keep up the exercise.  Then take pictures as you make progress to show how far you’ve come.

16.  Keep an Exercise Journal.  Just writing it down keeps you accountable. And if you are trying to lose weight, keep a food log too.  Daily, write down what you eat, exercise activities and time, and how you feel.

17.  Weigh & Measure Yourself.  Just weigh yourself once per week and measure your waist.  You’ll be motivated to see the numbers decrease and know it is time to get serious about your eating and exercise if they don’t.

18.  Age with Ease.  I don’t know of anyone who relishes the thought of getting older, achy, and slow.  You can limit this with regular exercise.  I want to be able to keep up with my kids and (future) grandkids – and I need to be fit and healthy to do so.  I don’t want to be slow and stooped and I don’t want to be on a pile of medications. That is motivation to continue a regular exercise program.

19.  The Lethargy from Not Exercising.  You know that feeling…the heaviness in your body.  I know that as soon as I exercise that feeling will be gone.

20.  Your Bones Feel Better.  I have arthritis in my knees and if I don’t exercise my joints begin to hurt.  Keeping moving helps your joints to generate healthy joint fluid to keep them lubricated and moving easily.

21.  It’s an Accomplishment.  You can pat yourself on the back every time you exercise.  We all need to have “wins” in our life and this is a big one you can have every day.


If you need a motivational indoor cycling workout try this:

The Biggest Excuse Ever…exposed

Posted by on 24 February at 4:07 pm


Are you happy with the way you look and feel?

If YES => Keep doing what you are doing!

If NO ==>  Do you want to be happy with the way you look and feel?
        If YES => Change something!

(Read on for the biggest excuse ever)

 Change:  Where do you start?

Most people KNOW what is holding them back.

I came across a saying a while back that has really helped me with making positive changes in my life:

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it” ~ Bill Cosby.

When it comes to your health, you only have one body.  You need to take care of it, always.
It isn’t something you can turn on or off.
It isn’t a 2 week “diet” .
It isn’t an exercise program that you can begin and end.

If you want to be happy with the way you look and feel for the rest of your life, the answer is fairly simple …but you have to WANT the change.
Here are my secrets:


#1  Exercise vigorously a minimum of 3 hours per week (30 min per day + one day rest, or 1 hour X 3 days per week)

#2  Eat fresh foods.  Make 1/2 your plate fruit & veg, 1/4 starch (pasta, rice, bread), 1/4 protein (meat, eggs, fish, tofu).  Avoid packaged and processed foods.  Eliminate fast food & soda pop.  Drink more water.  Never do a “quick fix” diet – just learn how to eat healthy.

#3  Get more sleep.  Sleep is vastly underrated in its ability to help our bodies heal and work more efficiently.
Now, that doesn’t sound so hard, right?

What it takes is making your health a priority in your own life.

The Biggest Excuse Ever:  “I don’t have time to exercise” 

 When you say “I don’t have time to….(fill in the blank)”

What you mean is “It is not a priority to me.”

Some of the most successful, busiest (and healthiest) people I know always have time to exercise…because it is a priority.

When you make your good health your permanent priority, you will begin to see significant and lasting change.
Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it!

Committed to your Good Health,

Coach Robin

PS – If you want a great indoor cycling program to guide you in your exercise, check out Power to Pedal.


How Many Turns on the Knob = “Hard”?

Posted by on 5 February at 6:56 pm

I had a great question from one of our Cycle Moles who is using the Power to Pedal videos about how to figure out how much tension to add.

(BTW, I happy to receive questions – either as emails or as comments here, and I will answer them in posts.)  

Here is his question:

        “Is there any way to identify the difference between ‘Easy’ and ‘Moderate’ etc., in terms of 1/4 turn or 1/2 turn on the tension knob? I’m not too sure if I’m working ‘Very Hard’ when I should only be working ‘Hard’.  I don’t use a heart rate monitor as I find a chest strap uncomfortable.”

Note of warning:  This turned into a rather long post because measuring “how hard is hard” needs explanation.  Near the end of the post, I tell you how to do your own Perceived Exertion assessment and give you the worksheet.  But please read the whole post as explanation leading up to the assessment.

Let’s first say that there are two primary reasons for no single answer to this question:

  1. All tension knobs on indoor cycle bikes are not equal.  1/2 turn on one can be totally different on your bike than on the bike next to you. This is because of differing wear on the breaks, varying calibration, and especially differences between brands.
  2. What is “hard” for me (in terms of turns of the tension knob) may be “easy” for you.  Each person has different abilities and so while I may only need 1/4 turn on the knob, you may need 1/2 turn to feel the same relative increase or decrease in exertion.

The simple answer is that if you do a heart rate threshold analysis, you will know by heart rate where your training zones are and how “hard” you are working because you are getting feedback (your changes in heart rate) through the cause and effect relationship of adding tension and change in heart rate.  (Remember that heart rate lags behind exertion by about 30 – 60 seconds depending on the increases/decreases you are making).   But that means you need to wear a heart rate strap.

How, then, do you figure this out when you don’t wear a heart rate strap?

The key is to get to know your own levels of perceived exertion.

Your ride is all about you, so you need to build the understanding of how hard you feel like you are working and how much work you can sustain.  The latter part, how much work you can sustain, will build as your level of fitness increases.  Pro athletes have taught themselves to endure high levels of work (with certainly a high level of pain tolerance).  I call this the “TST” for Total Sustained Threshold and it roughly equates to the heart rate (or exertion) just below the point at which you go from aerobic to anaerobic energy production AND your mental capability to hold that level of effort.

TST is a combination of your physical and mental capabilities.  If you haven’t exercised at a level where you push yourself hard for sustained periods of time, you will not have the mental focus and tenacity to stay with it.  Your TST will be lower than it could be for you.

This is all part of learning your body:  when you turn the knob on your bike to add more tension, how much should you turn it?

Here is how you can measure it.

The Rate of Perceived Exertion or “RPE” is a measuring stick of how hard you feel like you are working.  There are many scales of RPE with self ratings from 1-5, 1-10, or 1-20.  For the purpose of assessments, I use a scale of 1 – 10 and then condense it into the 5 Cycle Moles Zones.

I’ve adapted the “Foster Talk Test” to our method of calculating zones.  Now, usually we do this assessment with Certified Personal Trainers administering the test so that we can watch for signs of distress or evaluate what we are hearing you say.  But I am going to post this assessment here for you to do on your own.   If at any point during the assessment you feel dizzy, lightheaded, faint, or nauseous, stop the test. 

Essentially, in the test, you start out with a warm-up at an easy pace and add intensity every 2 minutes.  Near the end of each 2 minute segment, you speak a phrase out loud.  Then you ask yourself, “Can I speak comfortably?”.  If the answer is yes, add a little more intensity, maybe just 1/4 or 1/2 turn on the knob.  Please know that this assessment takes you up to a “very hard, at your limit”  level of exertion, NOT a maximum effort.  You will STOP before you reach your maximum effort.

Ideally, you just want to go up one level of perceived exertion (on a scale of 1-10) at a time.

As you work harder every 2 minutes, at some point you will become “winded” or “breathy” when you say the phrase, and feel like you may not want to continue.  It will be a heavy and hard effort, just before breathing begins to transition from steady, deep, and fast to panting.  If you are panting, you are likely over your limit (this is the ventilatory sign that you are transitioning from aerobic to anaerobic energy production) and your test is done.

AGAIN, this should NOT BE MAXIMUM EFFORT – heart rate maximum tests should ONLY be done in a laboratory environment.

When you get to this “yes, but” stage of “Can I speak comfortably”, try going one more level, until the answer to “Can I speak comfortably” is a firm “NO” because you are so breathy and winded.  If you start panting, you’ve gone too far.  End your assessment (make sure and cool down).

On the worksheet, there are places to record your level of perceived exertion,  “turns of the knob”, RPM,  heart rate, and watts.  The more information you can complete, the better.  The most important part is to fill in your own level of perceived exertion and at least one of the following:   Heart Rate, Turns on Knob, or Watts.

It may be that you do not advance in your RPE each 2 minute segment.  That is OK – you are learning how much to add to increase your RPE.  If you jump a level in RPE (say go from 3 to 5) then you’ve added too much tension and need to add less on the next 2 minute segment.

If you are wearing a heart rate monitor, be sure to record your heart rate.   If you are NOT wearing a heart rate monitor, it will be important for you to record the “turns on the knob” so you can start to relate the number of turns relative to how hard you feel you are working (perceived exertion.)

On the back of the worksheet is a place to calculate your 5 zones.  This worksheet was developed for Heart Rate, but if you aren’t wearing one, you could instead put in “turns of the knob” (adding them up from where you started as “easy”).

The MOST important thing is to relate to the FEELING:

0 Rest
1 Really Easy
2 Easy                                              Cycle Moles Zone 1
3 Moderate                                    Cycle Moles Zone 2
4 Somewhat Hard
5 Hard                                              Cycle Moles Zone 3
6 Harder (probably becoming “breathy” here)
7 Very Hard   
8 At My Limit  (this is the TST) Cycle Moles Zone 4
9 Past My Limit
10 Maximum Effort                     Cycle Moles Zone 5

You should not reach RPE 9 or 10 (Cycle Moles Zone 5) in this assessment.  Again, maximum effort tests should only be done with medical supervision.

Here is the RPE worksheet for you to download => 2 MIN Talk Test with HR & Knob turn +calcs

It is copyrighted, so please only use it for your own purposes.

Please let me know if you have any questions!  You can post questions or comments below.  If you live in or near Bellingham, Washington, let’s set up a training session and I can measure your RPE for you!

Committed to your Good Health,

CEM (Chief Executive Mole)