Fitness and exercise goals are always a hot topic in January. Promises of self-improvement are renewed and schedules are stretched to make time for working out. But after a few weeks even the smartest plans begin to unravel and no one is too surprised when they fall short of success. Even with the best intentions, exercise drops to the bottom of the priority list faster than you can say: “I’m going to drink less, eat healthier and workout every other day.”
Planning to overcome obstacles and setbacks is critical if you are going to succeed in fitness. Everyday excuses are the most common obstacles to working out. For practically every hour of the day, there will be something more tempting than exercise. Knowing this fact is half of the battle. Knowing how to deal with excuses is the other half. Most excuses are merely distractions that can be ignored if you have a plan and the skills to stick to it.
Excuse #1: I don’t want to get out of bed this morning.
Busted: As long as you’ve had a decent night of sleep (about 6-8 hours) getting up and moving is a great way to start your day. Plan to workout the night before and leave your shoes and workout clothes out so you see them when you wake up. A small breakfast snack is a good way to jumpstart your metabolism so you can more effectively fuel exercise and burn calories. (Try any of these and see what works for you: 1 slice of toast, one half cup of yogurt, a handful of cereal, a small fruit or even a half cup of fruit juice.) Once you get started, allow a little extra warm-up time. Walking and dynamic stretching are great warm up activities. It can take anywhere from five minutes up to about twenty. You will know you are ready to increase the intensity when you feel warmer and looser, or even break a light sweat.
Excuse #2: I’d rather go to lunch with my friends.
Busted: Socializing is an important part of wellness, but allowing it to interfere with your fitness plan is detrimental in the long run. We are all creatures of habit and one cancelled workout usually leads to a few more. Lunch with friends almost always beats working out in terms of immediate entertainment value, but commitment to exercise pays off when your consistency leads to results. Invite your friends to the gym with you – they’ll appreciate the support.
Excuse #3: I’m way too swamped to exercise today.
Busted: Exercise often seems like less of a priority when other things fill your schedule. That’s why your daily workout should be planned first and not negotiated away. You may need to decrease your workout time or exercise at home, but crossing exercise off your list is not the answer.
Excuse #4: I’m too tired to go to the gym.
Busted: A long day can certainly wear you out, but exercise can be just the thing to recharge your battery. Plan a short workout at a low intensity, such as walking 20-30 minutes on the treadmill at a low incline and an easy pace. More often than not, once you get started you will end up doing more.
Excuse #5: I’ve got a cold.
Busted: If you have a cold with mild symptoms above your neck (sniffles, sneezing or sore throat) exercise is safe to do. Though scaling back the time and intensity is a good idea. If the cold is below your neck (with fever, body ache, fatigue, congestion or cough), working out is not recommended. If exercise makes you feel worse then rest is indicated.
Excuse #6: I feel too fat to workout.
Busted: Body image is real and negative feelings can hinder motivation. The key is to remember that exercise is the solution not the problem. Working out burns calories and builds muscle to lower body fat and it makes you feel better about everything – including your body!
Excuse #7: I don’t have a thing to wear to the gym.
Busted: As long as you’ve got freedom of movement, the support you need and breathable clothes, it doesn’t matter what you wear to workout. Your fitness plan should not hinge on what’s in the laundry. If you don’t like your exercise clothes, get some new ones. (Help the economy as well as your fitness.)
Excuse #8: I’m just not motivated today.
Busted: You don’t need to be motivated for a full workout to get started. Like any other task, break it down and do one thing at a time. Change your clothes, pack for the gym, get anything else you need (towel, music, keys, wallet, bag), go to the gym, change, warm-up, take one exercise at a time, cool-down, change again, pack and get back to your day feeling refreshed.