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Arm Yourself Against Exercise Excuses

Winning the Fight Against Yourself
  -- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
I got into a fight this morning. It was not a “discussion." It was not a “disagreement.” It was a full blown fight. No, it wasn’t with my wife or kids or even the other drivers on the highway. The fight started before work and even before anyone else in the house was awake. The person I had a fight with was myself.

You see, if I am going to exercise, it has to go like this: Up at 4:45 a.m., running by 5:00, in the shower by 6:00, and then out the door to work. Now, I never said it this routine was easy (thus the fight). Always on time, I was awakened by the shrill beep, Beep, BEEP of my alarm, signaling the start of the fight. It was on!

You must be kidding. I feel like I just went to sleep a few hours ago! FOR GOODNESS SAKE, IT IS DARK OUTSIDE!

Another excuse jab here: I’m tired!

A plea punch there: It’s dark!

A surprise shot in the dark: Don't get out of this comfy bed!

I kept moving during the assault as the barrage of excuses filled my mind. I slowly made it to the bathroom to find today's running gear where I left it the night before. Even there, the attack continued: I can't get up and run when it gets cold in a few months. Then I was hit from behind with another jab of justification: It’s too dark. I could get hit by a car!

I put on my armor to boost my strength and defend myself better. Socks on. Shorts. Shirt, shoes, and visor. Trusty iPod in hand. That was all it took to bring down the offender. The fight was over and I was out the door. Even then though I could roughly hear his voice from the distance telling me: Just run three miles instead of the usual five. But it was too late—I had won today by a knock-out!

That's how my battle went this morning, but in reality, it's a battle I fight every day. I’d like to say that I am an undefeated champion, but that would be a lie. Sometimes I do lose and the voice wins. Many people think that a personal trainer never misses a workout and never struggles with eating the right things (or staying away from the not-so-right things). But I struggle just as much as everyone else. It is not easier for me than it is for others. It all comes down to the moment of the decision—like 4:45 a.m. every morning. That is where the battle is won or lost.

We all know how important exercise is to our health. We all know we should be doing it, but we allow ourselves “outs” with what we consider justifiable excuses. You can excuse yourself out of anything if you keep listening to yourself long enough. You can let those rationalizations make sense if you try. But I have come to a personal conclusion, a motto of sorts:

I will do what I need to do, in order to do what I want to do.

If that means getting up at 4:45 a.m. then so be it. I want to be healthy for a long time. I’ve got a long list of reasons why. I like to feel good and feel good about myself. I like the way exercise and eating well make me feel. I want to be around to spend a long, healthy lifetime with my wife. I want to wrestle with my kids and laugh and play and see them grow up and maybe even give me grandkids and great-grandkids one day! I want to be in the "90 and up" age category in the local 5K! I will do what I need to do (exercise and eat right) in order to do what I want to do (live a full life).

I'll tell you something I don’t want though. I don’t want to cheat myself out of precious time because I didn’t do the things I should have to live that long life. I don’t want to rob my wife or kids of years they could have with me. I don’t want to stare at the ceiling in a hospital room one day thinking, “I wish I would have taken better care of myself and not allowed this to happen.”

I want to encourage others to do what they need to do to be healthy. I want to encourage you to stay in the fight and not give into the excuses. Nike still has the best excuse-buster I can think of: Just Do It! Does it mean getting up early even though you'd rather sleep longer? Just do it. Does it mean staying up later to hit the gym and cook a healthy meal? Just do it. Is it hot or cold outside? Just do it. You name the reason why you shouldn’t do it, and just do it anyway.

The fight will be on again tomorrow morning. Same time, same place. Wish me luck—no, wish me determination—and I’ll do the same for you! After all, we are in this fight together.