12 Books That Will Motivate You To Get Fit — And Show You How To Do It

Did you know that moving your body is really, really good for you? Of course you do! You are a smart person. You know who Jillian Michaels is. You read Bustle.

The thing is, though, that just knowing that exercise is good for you isn’t enough to make those good things happen if you don’t actually do the damn workout. And, just as frustratingly, wanting to get healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually going to do it.

I feel you, lazybones. After being a gymnast and a tennis player during my childhood and early teenaged years, I basically did zero physical activity between the ages of 18 and 21. That’s also when my struggle with depression became serious. Is it a coincidence that once I began practicing yoga regularly, my sense of self-love deepened, my appreciation for my body grew, and I learned how to better navigate my dark moods? Nope.

I’m definitely not saying that just getting on a bike will magically fix all your problems. But I’m definitely saying that the hype about working out is true. Because we all know by now that “working out” is not synonymous with “losing weight”: When you exercise, you’re vowing to understand your body, to fortify your heart, and to trust your innate strength.

Still not convinced? These 12 books will help motivate you to shut that laptop and do some sun salutations.

Image: Matt Madd/Flickr

'Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom' by Colleen Saidman Yee with Susan K. Reed

In this memoir, Colleen Saidman Yee, who owns Yoga Shanti with her husband Rodney Yee, tells the story of her wild youth as a drug addict, and how finding yoga helped her to heal. An inspiring look at how practicing yoga can revolutionize far more than just your abs (although it does do that, too).

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'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir' by Haruki Murakami

You probably know Haruki Murakami as the brilliant weirdo who wrote such surrealist stalwarts as Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle . But you probably didn’t know that the Japanese writer once ran an ultramarathon, which is exactly as terrifying as it sounds. You may not be convinced to run 62 miles after reading Murakami’s memoir about his favorite physical pastime, but at the very least you might want to hop on the treadmill for a bit.

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'Make Your Own Rules Diet' by Tara Stiles

Although yogi Tara Stiles’ Make Your Own Rules Diet includes yoga sequences, don’t think of it as just an instruction manual: rather, Make Your Own Rules Diet offers techniques on how to feel good even when you step off your mat. The book also includes healthy recipes and simple meditations geared toward improving your mood and being kinder to yourself — which, in turn, will make you more inclined to keep yourself happy, i.e. practice more yoga! Genius.

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'Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen' by Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall’s soon-to-be-classic investigation of Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians — who can run for hundreds of miles without rest — reveals the wonders inherent to the human body. Next time you think you can’t do it — whether it’s running or spinning or taking the stairs instead of the elevator — keep in mind that you possess the very same natural gifts as this remarkable tribe; it’s just a matter of (patiently) revealing them.

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'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing' by Marie Kondo

What does a book about cleaning your house have to do with getting in shape? Everything, as it turns out. Marie Kondo’s revolutionary The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up presents the cleaning consultant’s wonderfully bizarre, but highly effective, techniques for cleaning up your living space, both materially and energetically. When your home is clean and tidy, Kondo avows, your mind calms, your energy levels replenish, and your motivation (like for getting to that FlyBarre class, perhaps?) increases.

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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' comic series

Yeah, I’m serious with this one. More than anything else — like my sh*tty moods and my discomfort with my body and my feelings of total and utter hopelessness — what motivated me to climb out of my bed and into a sports bra was binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer .Because I wanted to be able to execute a perfect roundhouse kick to an ugly vampire’s face; I wanted to be able to take down a gang of vicious, possessed hyena-demon-people. Although I’ve unfortunately never done either of those things, it’s nice to know I’d be physically able to if given the opportunity.

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'The Hunger Games' Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The way I feel about Buffy? Ditto for Katniss Everdeen. She may make some questionable personal decisions (Team Gale over here. Is that still relevant?), but girl knows how to throw a punch.

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'Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual' by Michael Pollan and Maira Kalman

Eating well and working out go hand-in-hand: feeding yourself healthy, nutritious food gives you the energy to move your body; and exercising regularly will make you crave those healthy, nutritious foods. Michael Pollan is the unofficial expert on eating mindfully, and Maira Kalman’s charming illustrations that accompany his Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual make this a classic worth revisiting.

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'Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run' by Alexandra Heminsley

Like us all, Alexandra Heminsley had heard of the wonders of running; but what everyone had failed to warn her about was how hard it is to start. In this charming and funny memoir, Heminsley explains exactly how tough those first few weeks can be, but she also describes the exhilaration of crossing the finish line at her first marathon, how running with her father brought the two closer together, and how her exercise routine taught her the importance of self-discipline. A must-read for anyone in need of a loving push toward hitting the pavement.

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'The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body' by Cameron Diaz

Celebrity books can be a little iffy, but Cameron Diaz’s The Body Book is seriously wonderful. In it, the health-conscious movie star talks candidly about the importance of loving your body, offering science-based facts about the human body as well as her personal tips and tricks for keeping herself healthy.

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'Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes — and What We Can Learn from Them' by Mark McClusky

In Faster, Higher, Stronger , Mark McClusky reveals the sophisticated training methods coaches now use to turn promising young athletes into superstars. You don’t need to be a sports buff to find these athletes’ incredible capacity for physical achievement totally inspiring. It’ll probably inspire you, too. Actually, move that into the definitely column.

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'No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness' by Michelle Segar Ph.D.

Think you hate exercising? As Michelle Segar’s No Sweat reveals, it’s probably not the “moving your body” component of the exercise you hate — it’s what our society has made you believe counts asexercise” that doesn’t resonate with you. The bottom line, Segar argues, is that the best exercise is the one that makes you feel good, and that you’ll want to keep doing again and again: windowless gyms and soul-sucking treadmills not required.

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