The Secret To Staying On Track With Fitness When You Don’t Feel Like It

It was another rainy day during the rainiest year of my life. I try not to let the weather impact my mood. I’ve been failing a lot.

I stood at the bedroom window watching cars drive by and wanting to do just about anything other than what I had to do…reach 20,000 steps for the day.

A couple months earlier I posted on Facebook about my 20k One Year Step Challenge20,000 steps every day for a year with no days off. But, as I watched the rain fall yet again, I very much wanted a day off. I still had a lot of steps to get, but what I really wanted to do was to plop my butt down and Netflix the rest of the day away.

Fitness is not easy. It requires intentional effort over a long period of time. And, there are going to be days when you just don’t feel like it.

It happens to EVERYBODY on a fitness journey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting or been doing this thing for years, as I have. There are some days when you just don’t feel the love and want to do anything, but.

Thankfully, there is a “silver bullet” solution when you start whispering one of these excuses to yourself:

“I’m Too Busy”

This probably describes life for most of us. We simply feel like there’s just too much to do. It’s relentless. But the normal busyness of life is typically not the reason we don’t feel like doing fitness. Let’s face it…you didn’t make the decision to pursue fitness in a vacuum. You already had a job, relationships, and the stuff of life on your calendar.

No, it’s not the normal busy that derails fitness. It’s the extra busy. It’s the overtime at work you didn’t anticipate. It’s the deadline for the project that is fast approaching. It’s a family event that requires more than you expected.

When your calendar becomes even more crowded than normal you may feel the pressure to take a day off. It becomes easier to say, “I just don’t have time today.”

I’m in the final weeks of my 20k Challenge. And, yes, there have been more than a few days that got busier than normal.

I had several work days that lasted more than 15 hours. Those were tough. There were the two days with long car rides to the beach for vacation. And, there was the day Ava had breast cancer surgery and I was at the hospital with her.

Those days probably qualified as “too busy” to reach the goal, but I had my “silver bullet”.

“I’m Too Tired”

Who hasn’t had a day or two when you just couldn’t wake up? It’s recommended we get at least seven hours of sleep each night with eight being optimal. But, who nails that goal every night? We are a sleep deprived culture.

It was either football coach Vince Lombardi or General George Patton (they can’t figure out which one) who said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” In other words, when you’re tired it’s so difficult to do a hard thing…like fitness. Even a five minute walk to get those final 500 steps feels overwhelming.

This is my life. I’ve worked in morning radio for decades. I have no idea what getting eight hours of sleep is like. My alarm goes off at 2:20a. To get eight hours I need to be in bed AND asleep by 6:20p. Yeah…that never happens.

I know what tired feels like, but I have my “silver bullet”.

“It’s Not Working” 

Some of us would pursue fitness even if there were no benefits. If you find a fitness activity that you really love you might keep doing it even if you never lost another pound or your blood pressure never went down.

But, for most of us…fitness is directly tied to results. I love walking, but I don’t see a scenario where I’m reaching 20,000 steps a day if there were no health, mental, and emotional benefits. And, most of us begin a fitness journey to make a specific change.

When I started, I wanted to stop the extra pounds that were gathering around my middle. I also was experiencing blood sugar issues that had me concerned since there is a history of diabetes on both sides of my family tree.

Those changes take time, but we want them NOW. It can be discouraging to keep putting effort into something that is hard and feel like the changes are too small or non-existent. And, when you’re staring at a hard day for fitness it’s easy to take a break thinking, “Why does it even matter?”

When that question pops in your mind…there is a “silver bullet”.

“I’m Bored”

Fitness is fun at the beginning. It’s new and exciting and holds the promise of transformation. But, eventually the excitement wears off and the transformation is very slow. But, you keep plugging along, until…

…something more fun comes along.

Maybe it’s a spontaneous invitation from a friend for coffee. Now you have to choose between that fun opportunity and your fitness activity. If you’ve been feeling bored it becomes a tough decision. Or, maybe it’s not hard at all to say yes to coffee.

How about vacation? Is it easy to say no to fitness because vacation should be all about the fun?

If you’re faced with the decision between fitness and fun there is a “silver bullet”.

“I’m Not Feeling it”

Human emotion is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s predictable. When the Ravens lose I feel sullen for about an hour. When they win, I feel like the playoffs are in my team’s future. Every Sunday. It’s predictable.

But, sometimes our emotions are like the wind. They change direction without warning or reason (at least that we are aware of). There are some days when fitness is just not interesting. You don’t know why, but you’re just not feeling it that day.

That’s how I felt that rainy day staring out of our bedroom window. I was bummed by the weather, but it certainly wasn’t the first crappy day I faced during my 20k One Year Step Challenge and it wasn’t the last. But, that day stands out because I was SO disinterested. I wasn’t feeling it AT ALL.

Thankfully, I used my “silver bullet”.

The “Silver Bullet”

For each of these reasons to take a day off from fitness there is a one-size-fits-all solution…a “silver bullet”. But first, a couple questions.

  1. Are you doing a fitness activity that you enjoy? I love walking and that’s what this blog is about, but there are lots of fitness options. I’ve written before about how crucial it is to find that fitness activity you enjoy (read it HERE). If you don’t enjoy it you’re going to stop doing it. You can only gut it out so long. The silver bullet won’t work here.
  2. If walking is your fitness activity, is your daily step goal too high? It’s important that we start small with fitness. 10,000 steps is what everybody talks about, but for most of us it’s a terrible starting point. If your goal is too high and you’re trying to do too much fitness is not going to last and you’re looking for reasons to stop. The silver bullet isn’t the solution for this either.

The “Silver Bullet”

Oh…one more thing. Why do we even need a “silver bullet” to keep us going? What’s the problem with missing a day? What’s the worst thing that can happen?

The worst thing that can happen is actually the thing that DOES happen when you miss a day of fitness.


Nothing happens when you miss day of fitness. You won’t suddenly gain five pounds. Your health won’t plummet. Your muscles won’t atrophy. NOTHING HAPPENS!

And, that’s the worst thing. Because it makes it easier the next time you feel like skipping a day. Which makes it even easier the next time. And it keeps getting easier. And, before you know it fitness is getting smaller and smaller in your rear view mirror.

The “Silver Bullet” (this time for real)

When you want to take the day off from fitness what’s the silver bullet that helps you power through?


There it is. Surprised? I doubt it.

Commitment is powerful! But, you already know that. Commitment keeps you moving forward when your feelings start drifting in a different direction. Nothing of importance or significance ever happens without commitment. That doesn’t mean feelings aren’t important, but commitment is the engine of change.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes the easiest person to break a commitment with is yourself. You probably believe that reaching your daily step goal doesn’t really matter to anyone else so what does it matter if you take a day off when you it gets a little harder than usual or you just don’t feel like it?

Except it does matter. Your pursuit of fitness matters to the people in your world. Even if they don’t say so. But, even more importantly…it matters to YOU!

70I stared out that bedroom window and watched the rain fall as the cars drove by. My feelings were strong and all I wanted to do was sit for the rest of the day and find something mindless to watch on Netflix.

I stood there for probably 10 minutes wishing I had never made this stupid commitment to get 20,000 steps. Dumbest decision ever!

And, then I slowly walked away from that window and kept moving until I reached my goal. The best part of that day wasn’t the 20,019 steps on my Fitbit when I climbed into bed. No, the best part was that I kept a commitment I made to myself. And, that made it easier to keep the commitment the next time I didn’t want to.

If you struggle with keeping your fitness commitment I have something I’d like you to try…a contract with yourself. It might feel a little cheesy (because it is) but, it also might be just the tipping point you need to honor your fitness commitment and keep moving forward the next time you don’t feel like it.

Download this free contract, fill it out, sign it, and keep it nearby. The contract is only for 30 days.

Set a daily step goal for the next 30 days and watch what happens when it gets challenging. You’ll start proving to yourself that you really can win at fitness.

Commitment. It’s the “silver bullet” and it makes all the difference.

If you struggle with motivation to stick with fitness this blog will help. Don’t be intimated by the title. That’s my goal…not yours. But, my bigger goal is to help you start a fitness journey that builds momentum and never stops. If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone and to the right and above on your computer) you’ll get an email with a link to each motivating article the moment it’s published.




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