When I was a kid, my mother had this way of getting us to go to school whenever we said we were sick. It started like this:
Kid: I don’t feel well. Maybe I should stay home today.
Mom: Why don’t you get dressed and see how you feel.
Kid (after dressing): I still don’t feel good. Maybe I should stay home.
Mom: Why don’t you eat breakfast and see how you feel.
Kid(after eating): I really don’t feel good. I seriously think I should stay home.
Mom: Why don’t you go to school. If you still feel sick, I’ll pick you up.
Kid resignedly gets on the bus. (Unless you were currently vomiting or had a temperature of over 100 degrees, you went to school.)
Most of the time, once you got there, you put up with school and made it through the day. I can only remember one serious exception, where I seriously needed to stay home, and was forced to go to school.
How does this apply to me and exercise? I use that same formula today to trick myself into exercise. It starts like this:
Me: I don’t want to exercise today because [insert excuse].
Me: You don’t have to exercise. You just have to walk around the blocks and get a few more steps…. Oh, but put on your workout gear in case you change your mind.
Me (after getting down the block): You don’t have to exercise, but why don’t you walk a little more. Try a mile. No biggie.
Me (after walking 1/2 mile): This would go a lot faster if you just ran the last half mile. You don’t have to do more than that. Just a half mile.
Me (after running 1/2 mile): Seems silly to get all sweaty for just a half mile. Why don’t you just finish off a the other half and make it a mile. Just a mile. No big deal.
Me (after running a mile): Gee, your time was pretty good. Don’t you want to see if you can run a little farther? Just go for 2 miles and call it a day. Don’t go too fast. Just take it easy.
Me (after running two miles): Well, you already committed. What’s one more mile. If you make it the full three, then you don’t have to exercise tomorrow. Think about it. Get it over today, and you can take tomorrow off.
It seems as if I can just get myself to put on the workout clothes and walk out the door, it is much easier to convince myself to do more. All I have to do is get past that first hurdle.