Eliminating Exercise Excuses!
We all do it.
We’ve all come up with some excuse or another to not exercise. Really, exercises excuses are cheap and abundant. In fact, the list of potential excuses is infinite, and in most cases, we just don’t want to do it. Generally speaking, we are rather impatient and lazy, and when it comes to exercising, it’s really, really easy to talk ourselves out of it. Ironically, when it comes to generating these exercise excuses, we exert tremendous energy. Why is that?
Well, today I want to try to anticipate some of those exercise excuses you may have heard – or even used – and offer some suggestions. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll be out of excuses…or at least have a better list of excuses then you do now. Either way, it’ll be productive.
1. I’m too busy; I don’t have time.
I have little patience for this excuse, because in our hearts we know it’s lame. Fitness involves a series of lifestyle choices, so this is tantamount to saying, “I don’t have time to live.” If you’re not fit and you want to be, you have to change how you live. Nevertheless, there are some practical helps to attack this excuse. Consider these:
- Plan with a calendar. Build a 30-minute training session into your schedule. Consider getting up a bit earlier and exercising before breakfast. You’ll get your day off to a great start and feel great.
- Double dip: exercise while doing something else you have do to. Have a walking meeting with a colleague. Listen to a good audiobook or the Bible or a personal-development message while exercising. Watch the evening news while on the treadmill. Make your calls during your commute to free you up later on. Rare are the times when I’m doing nothing but exercising. I’m always trying to make the most of my minutes.
- Do short workouts. My hardest workouts have almost all been under 10 minutes. Who doesn’t have that kind of time? (By the way, that’s a time when I’m usually doing nothing else but exercising…and it’s over quickly.)
2. I’m injured.
To be sure, some exercise excuses are legitimate. Some folks have chronic illness or conditions that keep them sidelined. Others have injured body parts. To them all, my message is the same: Do what you can.
If you’re rehabbing an injured knee, you may be on a hiatus from your squat program, but this could be a great time to work on those pull-ups, pushups and planks. I call this “making lemonade” (you know, “when life gives you lemons…?”)
What you don’t want to do is to let an injury conquer you. How many times have you heard someone use a sore thumb as an excuse to skip a leg workout? I’ve heard it – and countless other weak excuses – plenty of times. That’s just excuse making, and it’s not good for you. Don’t do it!
3. I’m too heavy to exercise.
I’m not trying to be a jerk, but you might as well say you’re too heavy to diet while you’re at it. If you want to improve how you feel – and how you feel about yourself – you have to decide to make some choices. Do something.
Some people don’t have the stamina to exercise as hard or as long as they’d like. Others suffer joint pain when running because they weigh so much. Well, as with #2 above, you do what you can. If you can only walk from the couch to the refrigerator once without getting winded, then do it once a bunch of times, until you can do it twice.
If you can run one mile without stopping, then try to push yourself to 1.1 miles and go from there.
If you can do 15 perfect kettlebell swings with a given weight without your form breaking down, then set a goal to do 30 reps with the same weight and program your training until you’re able to do.
If you have almost no mobility, do some mobility work like Original Strength Resets or yoga stretching. Little by little you’ll get there, and soon you’ll be moving better, exercising harder and longer, and you’ll feel better too!
4. I don’t want to sweat.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Seriously?” But yes, there exist people in the world who want to exercise without sweating (cough SONJA! cough). In fairness, there are times when you may have a few minutes to exercise, but don’t have have time to change your clothes or shower before heading back to civilized company.
Well, the principle here is to be a long-term thinker. Something really is better than nothing. So if you don’t want to sweat, why not do a few short sets of pushups? Why not go for a short walk? How about a few minutes of stretching and mobility exercises? These are all small, simple things that, compounded over time, make a significant difference.
5. I can’t afford the expensive equipment or a gym membership.
There were strong, fit people before the advent of the dumbbell and big box gym. How? By leading an active lifestyle and eating well. You can do this too. A few suggestions here, too:
- Do spend some money, but invest wisely. A pair of kettlebells and a pull-up bar could set you back $200-400 (depending on the kettlebells you get), which is a lot less than a full home gym or a membership. Beyond this, they’d take almost no footprint in your home. But if that’s still too much money, there’s good news! Read on.
- Go for a walk. You don’t need any equipment for this. Brilliant! Have extra energy? Walk faster!
- Use bodyweight exercises. They also don’t require any equipment, and healthy people have used calisthenics for thousands of years to get – and stay – strong.
6. I don’t feel like working out.
This is the one that haunts me the most. And in truth, I don’t often feel like working out. But I do it anyway. And one of the greatest parts of my day is when I’ve finished a workout…especially one I didn’t want to do. It’s so satisfying, and it feels great. So there are two helpful options that I see here: either change your attitude and just do it anyway, or change your workout and do something, because that’s better than nothing.
The less-helpful alternative is to let yourself not work out simply because you don’t want to. And again, that’s a bad habit to let yourself get into.
I want to have a disciplined mind, and that requires disciplining my body. I’m in charge of it; it’s not in charge of me. So I won’t just work out when I feel like it; I’ll work out when it’s time to do so…within reason.
The recurring theme here is this: Do what you can. If you are faithful with what you can do, you’ll be healthier before you know it. And don’t cheat yourself or be lazy. Do what you can with your available time, resources, and current levels of fitness.
Finally, keep the big picture in view. Whether you exercise thirty minutes today or three minutes or zero minutes, your overall fitness level tomorrow won’t be significantly different. But one year (or five or ten years) of these sorts of decisions will make a difference, one way or another. A year of exercises excuses or a year of measured discipline may reflect a series of Slight Edge differences in any given moment, but they will make a huge difference down the road.