We begin a new fitness routine with the best of intentions—telling ourselves that we’ll hit the gym three times a week—but actually accomplishing what we set out to do can be harder than expected. Combining a busy work week with other obligations and a list of errands can be a recipe for fitness failure. Exercise has to be pushed to the bottom of the list since there are only so many hours in the day, right?|
Everyone has the same 24 hours to work with every day. It’s how you decide to spend and prioritize your time that’s the real issue. It’s easy to make excuses and kid yourself about why you’re not reaching your fitness goals, but until you take responsibility for your actions (or lack thereof) you will remain in front of the television for one more evening, all the while moaning about how you can’t fit into your favorite clothes any longer.
"But I’m tired," you tell yourself. "I’ve had a long day and I deserve to sit back and relax. I’ll just take it easy tonight and I promise to work out tomorrow." Then tomorrow comes and you’ve got to work late and you’re out of milk so you have to go buy groceries and before you know it, another day has passed and still no exercise. Why is it that you can hold down a job, make it to class, run a household and put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, while you disappoint yourself every time you miss your own appointment with the treadmill?
Of course there are legitimate reasons to not exercise. But unless you’ve just given birth or had surgery, most of these reasons aren’t reasons at all—they’re excuses. If you’ve been allowing these excuses to keep you from the gym, it’s time to refocus.
Exercise Excuse # 1: I’m too tired.
It takes energy to produce energy, so while you may be tired now, even a short 10-minute walk will get your blood pumping and will boost your energy levels for up to two hours after. And regular exercise helps improve the quality of your sleep, meaning more energy throughout the day. Some research suggests working out can help regulate your sleep cycles, so you’ll fall asleep easier, sleep more soundly and wake up more rested. A morning workout—not a cup of coffee—could be just the ticket you need to feel more awake and energized all day long!
Exercise Excuse # 2: I don’t have time.
Eliminate 30 minutes of television viewing each night and exercise for half an hour instead. Unlike couch time, this method will strengthen muscles, burn fat, lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Record your favorite shows and watch them while lifting weights or running on the treadmill to multitask. Get up an hour earlier in the morning and go for a walk before you start your day or bring along your sneakers and go for a walk during your lunch break. There are many little time stealers in your day, from surfing the Internet to watching reruns to accepting calls from people you don’t really want to talk to. Getting rid of these distractions can add hours of free time each day—time that can be spent improving your health.
Exercise Excuse # 3: I can’t afford a gym membership or equipment.
While going to the gym is a great way to get in shape, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good workout. Either sign up for the bare bones membership package (are you really going to use all the perks the gym offers anyway?) or exercise at home for free with help from SparkPeople’s exercise demos, workouts, videos and other fitness resources. Push-ups, lunges, crunches and aerobics can all be done in the privacy of your own home and cost no money at all. Don’t forget to borrow some fitness DVDs from your local library to ensure you don’t get bored with your routine. Exercising at home also eliminates another avoidance excuse—the weather. Your home treadmill is available rain or shine, 365 days a year.
Exercise Excuse # 4: I’m embarrassed by my appearance.
It’s tough to go to the gym if you don’t feel good about your appearance. A well-fitting pair of yoga pants and a new T-shirt go a long way towards making you feel better about your body. Baggy, oversized shirts and track pants may be comfortable, but they make you look bigger, so find some fitness clothes shaped to play up your best assets. If you are afraid of being the biggest person in the exercise class, sign up for a class specifically designed for overweight individuals or a beginner’s class where there will be others just starting out, too. And remember: Everyone at the gym has the same goal in mind and everyone had to start somewhere. You may feel self-conscious, but chances are that no one is really paying attention to you and if they are, they’re probably silently cheering you on for working toward your goals!
Exercise Excuse # 5: I’m too depressed.
A Harvard University study found that after 12 weeks of weight training, nearly 90% of seriously depressed seniors no longer met the criteria for clinical depression. And just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts the levels of your brain’s feel-good chemicals, making you happier and more invigorated. So exercising will actually improve your mood, even if you feel like biting someone’s head off before you begin. Many bad moods are the result of stress and exercise is a proven way to relax and lower the amount of cortisol (which is produced in response to stress) in your system. High cortisol levels have been linked to the accumulation of harmful abdominal fat.
We are all busy and have lives outside of the gym, but we all need regular exercise to help us stay healthy, lose weight and cope with the stresses of everyday life. By making excuses to avoid exercise, all we’re really doing is telling ourselves that our physical and mental health is not important and doing the dishes, driving the kids to their activities or watching mindless television is a more worthy endeavor. And nothing could be further from the truth.