Why You Can’t Stick To An Exercise Program

A few weeks ago I published a post called Stop Expecting Miracles from Exercise. It was basically about how most people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to workout programs and how we all need to re-adjust our thinking when it comes to getting our sweat on.

can't stick to exercise program

I received a few emails from readers asking how to re-adjust their thinking so I thought I’d throw together a list of the real reason’s why you can’t stick to an exercise program… and stop doing those things.

You call it an ‘exercise program’

Exercise should be a daily habit, like showering. You don’t put yourself on a shower program. You just do it every day because it’s gross if you don’t. Stop looking at exercise as something that you do in 6 weeks stints like a bootcamp. It has to happen several times a week, every week.

You think exercise has to be hard and painful

Total myth. At the very least you should be doing 10,000 steps every day plus 3 more intense sessions of exercise a week. That’s it. You can meet a mate and go for a walk, take your kids on a hike through a national park, do a 30 minute workout on your lunch break, join that yoga class your mate has been trying or use that amazing thing called the internet and do some at home workouts with YouTube. You don’t need to go all Gwyneth on the situation and work out until you cry. Just move a bit most days and move a bit more on every second day. Boom.

You’re expecting to end up looking like Beyonce

That’s not going to happen. You need staff, chefs, childminders, trainers and a butt load of cash to look like that. Let go of the Beyonce goal. It’s not helping anyone.

You go too hard and too fast

It’s totally unsustainable for a normal person, with a full-time job and regular person responsibilities to exercise for a full hour, every day for the rest of their lives. Don’t work yourself too hard when you start out. Baby steps are key.

You keep searching for a magic formula

I’ve tried every kind of exercise under the sun and you know what? It’s all the same shit. Literally. I can do barre classes, pump classes, boot camps, fun runs, strength training and any kind of 45-minute interval session with a weird acronym like KTX or BPG and I shit you not the results are the same. If I sweat and use my arms and legs in combination with any kind of resistance, the results are the same. By all means, try lots of different exercises (I never stop trying new stuff!) but stop looking for the Drinking Wine and Eating Cheese Summer Tone Up Program. It doesn’t exist. All exercise is exercise. They’re just dressed up differently.

You keep waiting for motivation

‘Motivation is not always going to be there, so what’s going to happen when you wake up and it’s gone? Is that game over for you? Motivation is like any emotion – it comes and goes, so if you’re going to rely on motivation to get the job done, it will let you down. And that’s the trap – motivation is an often an excuse in disguise.’

– Michelle Bridges

Bottom line? Motivation isn’t actually a thing. There’s no pill, potion or special gene that other people use to get motivated. The only thing that gets you out there and exercising is your own brain and you’re in charge of that so show it who’s boss.

You have an end goal

Losing weight for an event or trying to tone up for summer aren’t exactly brilliant reasons to exercise. If it’s freezing cold and you’re snuggled in your bed at 6am, I’m willing to bet that the thought of looking fat at a wedding in six months time isn’t going to get you springing out of bed and hitting the gym. You need to start looking at exercise as that thing you do every day that makes you feel good rather than that temporary thing you’re doing for a set amount of time.

Do you struggle with sticking to an exercise program? What has helped you in the past?

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  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid 6 years ago

    I think moving your body and calling it an “exercise program” is a bit like eating healthily and saying that you’re “on a diet.” It’s kind of counter productive. I don’t work out for results, I do it because it feels good and I know it’s good for me. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever regretted a workout, but I’ve totally regretted not exercising too many times!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I’m the same! I’ve never regretted a work out – except on actually. I nearly got hit by car on my way into the gym, did my class and then fainted half way through after my adrenaline wore off! That was bad. 🙂

  2. Kelly 6 years ago

    As per usual Smaggle – you have hit the nail on the head and just told it like it is. I know I have been guilty of looking for the magic dust and am absolutely certain there isn’t any. Sometimes you spend so much time looking for the easy option, going for a walk for 30 minutes actually turns out easier than all the effort you are putting in trying to get out of it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Absolutely! You’ve just got to go for it because you waste so much time procrastinating about it!

  3. Maxabella 6 years ago

    When I stopped trying to don the lycra and do the gym thing (because that’s what ‘real’ exercise is, right?), I finally got it. I exercise every single day just by living in an exercisey way and I’m a fit and healthy person. Isn’t that what it’s all about? x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I still do a bit of both but my FitBit totally changed my life. 10,000 steps every day is an absolute life saver and totally achievable!

  4. Jess 6 years ago

    Oh god, stop speaking directly to me! 😉 I needed to hear this today, and I’m definitely a sucker for the trap of being ‘all-in’ on a program or nothing at all. Gotta start me some regular and balanced movement!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Ha! I’m reading your thoughts through my computer! 🙂

  5. cat@thatbettiething 6 years ago

    I’m very goal orientated. I’ve got some goals I’m trying to achieve at the moment (more related to the frequency than kilos) and I’m going to reward myself once Ive achieved them. Almost like a grown up star chart!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I think goals are definitely important and frequency goals are more achievable than kilo goals!

  6. Cath 6 years ago

    Hello! Just to throw my 2 cents worth in, I think the key is finding something you enjoy too. I live surrounded by beautiful forest with lots of hills and lushness, right on my doorstep, but I’ve only properly discovered this in the last 18months! I hit the forest with my phone loaded with podcasts (addicted to podcasts) and run/ walk for over an hour 3-4 times a week. It is my happy place. Just me and my big old dog, the light in the trees, the smell of the earth AND I’m learning new things from the podcasts too! I also share a session with a P.T once a week for an hour with 2 friends and I can highly recommend this too, we laugh SO HARD at our piss weakness in comparison to our P.T who is 15 years older and so crazy fit and buff! I have a Fitbit too, so I try to get to10k steps a day too. Having more energy is the best reward !

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh definitely! I actually enjoy the treadmill – lots of people think I’m nuts but I love watching shit TV and smashing out a run!

  7. Flat Bum Mum 6 years ago

    So brilliant! Thanks Carly.
    I love the Michelle Bridges quote. I make exercise part of my day because I want to be healthy….not skinny. i also like feeling sane at the end of the day instead of feeling like a deranged monster who wants to kill everyone in my path! X

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Exactly! I do not cope emotionally if I don’t move my body! I love the MB motivation thing too – totally helps me get out of bed in the morning.

  8. My weird thing is that most people seem to get their motivation/desire to be fit from wanting to look hot for others and feel good about themselves. I already feel good about myself and I’ve always been one of those weirdo’s that cares far more intently what people think of my goodness, intelligence etc than my looks. Doing it for your health is hard to grasp when you’re young so I get a bit stuck on that front. But like you said its about just realising its something you have to do and making it a habit, which I do

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      It’s about mental health more than anything which is so important when you’re young! You should try exercising and mood tracking for a month and see how you go!

  9. I think that’s it – it’s not a program it just is, like cleaning your teeth, you just do it because it is the right thing to do, the best thing to do and healthy for you. OK. Mindset changed.

  10. carolyngracebeaumont 6 years ago

    I love that Michelle Bridges quote. Recently I heard something similar that really resonated and I’ve been trying to keep in mind frequently. It’s “mood is a poor indicator of whether or not you should do something” and it’s so true. Also, doing the thing can, and often does, change your mood. I can be feeling too lazy to work out, or unmotivated to do xyz at work, or whatever, but after I force myself to do the thing, my mood has changed noticeably and I feel energized or happy or motivated or confident etc. Way more so than letting my poor mood continue and my behaviour spiral.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I ADORE that quote. I honestly think that attitude can change your entire day. x

  11. Melissa 6 years ago

    As always, another spot on article that makes me ‘ha’ (that’s a laugh) out loud. Thanks for the giggle with the truth. Inspiration for my day.
    Ps I love the bridge in Florence picture.


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