My Exercise Plan

Now that my weight loss is under way, I want to build an exercise program.

I already exercise. I am a member of the MIT ballroom dance team and I go to the gym, where I use the machines, swim, and take gentle yoga and Zumba classes.

Doesn’t sound bad, right? But the reality is that I went to Zumba class a total of three times last year. I skipped half the dance classes I signed up for because I was too tired to attend. I had sincerely planned to go to them, but they’re held in the evenings, when I’m already drooping.

The yoga situation is the worst. I’m scheduled to go to yoga twice a week, but just as it is time to leave for yoga, I get very hungry and cannot resist having a snack. Then I remember that they do not recommend practicing yoga after eating a meal, and voilà—I have found my excuse. I am all set up to exercise five hours a week, but in reality most weeks I do not exercise at all.

How can I motivate myself? I know that with food, if I have gained weight one day, I eat less the next. So if I’ve missed my goal of exercising one week, do I add those hours to the next week? That’s unlikely to actually help, since the problem is that I’m not meeting my exercise goal, period.

Many people suggested that I punish myself. For example, if I do not meet my goal, I should donate money to a cause I do not support. This feels wrong. If I fail, I’ll feel doubly guilty. I’ll go broke paying for psychotherapy.

I can try to reward myself. But what should the reward be? Should I reward myself with a piece of tiramisu? Since I am trying to persuade myself that sugar is bad, I shouldn’t create a situation that makes sugar desirable. So rewarding with food won’t work. Should I buy myself something? If I really want it, I will buy it anyway.

I’ve been thinking about a plan for a long time. Finally I realized that I should find other people to reward me. I do have a lot of friends, and I came up with an idea of how they could help.

The next time I saw my friend Hillary I asked her if she wanted to sponsor my new exercise plan. She said, “I’m in,” without even hearing the plan. Hillary is a true friend. This is what she blindly signed up for.

I decided to push myself to exercise five hours a week. Because of weather and health fluctuations, I pledged to spread 20 hours of exercise over four weeks. I will sent Hillary weekly reports of what I do. This is in itself a huge motivating factor. After the four weeks, we will go to lunch together, which is a great reward for me to look forward to. If I succeed with my plan, she pays for lunch. If I fail, I pay.

Once I saw how enthusiastic Hillary was, I lined up four other friends for the next four-week periods. I hope that after several months of exercise, I will learn to enjoy it. Or at least, I will start feeling the benefits and that itself will be a motivating factor.

Hillary liked my plan so much that she designed a similar exercise plan for herself. Now I am looking forward to two lunches with Hillary.



  1. Count Iblis:

    The reward will come later; once you are physically very fit you will not only have lost a lot of weight, but that weight will also be stable, it will not depend strongly on your calorie intake anymore. So, you can then stop dieting, except that you should still focus on eating healthy foods.

    E.g. I eat approximately 3800 Kcal/day. I will usually eat 500 grams of vegetables, 1 kg of potatoes, 500 grams of whole grain bread every day. I exercise about 5 hours per week (running) and I weight 58 kg.

  2. Felipe Pait:

    I invite you for lunch provided the place is a generous walk away from your new place!

  3. Tanya Khovanova:


    Great, we’ll do it.

  4. Norse:

    Try a variant of any keto diet (essentially: high-fat, protein, no-carb). I found that I was not really hungry anymore, and snacks tend to be small enough to not stand in the way of exercise.

Leave a comment