I once heard my yoga instructor say "the toughest pose is rolling out your mat."
How true it is. We have the best intentions. We plan, we promise ourselves, make deals with ourselves, buy the class package, enroll at the gym, fill the house with exercise equipment and stock the closet with workout clothing, but sometimes we just don't get around to STARTING. We get distracted, we lose our motivation, we tell ourselves we'll make up for it tomorrow.
This rings true not just for fitness but for many other things, such as practicing our instrument or sitting down to do our journaling or meditation. In his book Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch talks about creating a "set-up." A set-up is a space designed specifically for your needs (workout or otherwise), which is always available when the time comes to do your work. You don't even need to roll out the mat, it's just there. The idea is to give yourself a space to work in (or workout in) so you have as few obstacles as possible, and so it's as easy to start--and stick with--as possible.
Think about how you can create a setup for yourself. This may involve converting a part of your home, checking out the local yoga or dance studio, or researching places for your running, biking or hikes.
Now that the location is decided, you'll need to create space in your schedule as well. This will take some strategy, and may involve some experimentation, but don't get overwhelmed. Start with the most likely time you'll workout. Are you a morning person or does it feel better for you to sweat it out after a long day at the desk? Where can you place your workout so that other events are unlikely to conflict? What time-wasting activities can you eliminate in your day? I promise you, there's something you can remove to make time for yourself. Once you've established days and times, do everything you can to make it easy to stick with your routine. If at all possible, try to keep your workout or practice on a regular schedule. This may feel difficult at first, but once it's established, you will find it's just doesn't feel right to miss it.
Once you have the time scheduled, force yourself to go and do your work. My voice teacher use to tell me, "When the time comes to practice, stop EVERYTHING you're doing--even if you haven't finished your last task--and start practicing." If you are washing dishes, put them down. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, or the phone, wrap it up and move on to your next task. It's not an easy discipline, but it's simple. Consider this: it's often more about prioritization than motivation. If taking care of yourself is a priority (and it should be...because if you're not healthy, how can you be the best you at work or home and how can you be the best you for your loved ones?) then the dishes and Facebook can wait. It'll take sacrificing some time, maybe some other activities and maybe even space in your home, but if you make your own well-being a priority those sacrifices are worth it.
It's amazing to see what happens when you start. You may feel at first like it's forced or uncomfortable (you might even be grumpy about it), but soon enough you're rolling with it, and you may find you're enjoying the work in spite of all the difficulty you may have experienced getting started. Then there's the high of the workout, and the satisfying sense of accomplishment. This becomes positive reinforcement. Not only will you become so used to the routine that it doesn't feel right to miss it, you'll realize you don't feel as good if you miss it either. And who wants to feel bad?
You can do additional things to help yourself stay committed. Set goals and reassess them regularly. Find a workout partner who will hold you accountable. Keep track of your progress through a journal. Set up a reward system for staying committed, or after you achieve certain goals. Share your intentions with your loved ones, so they can help you stay focused and perhaps even cheer you on.
Getting started is a matter of a little pre-planning and good dose of self-discipline, but it'll get easier and better as you go on. So go ahead, get started. There's no time like the present.