"I'm too tired." "I have a big meeting tomorrow, so I don't want to be sore." "I'm so stressed at work, I can't even think about exercise." "My dog ate my gym clothes! Really!"|
If coming up with excuses for skipping a workout burned calories, many people would have supermodel physiques. While people dread exercising for various reasons—anything from tight joints to a deep-seated hatred for sweat—exercise has too many amazing physical and mental health benefits to ignore it as a part of your routine completely.
Much of the dread comes from a misunderstanding of what exercise has to mean for your life. While you can hit the gym for an hour every day, something as simple as regularly squeezing in time for a 10-minute abs circuit or a jog around the neighborhood can reap many of the same benefits. Learning to embrace exercise will not only release endorphins and put you in a better mood, but your health will thank you and before long, you might even come to enjoy it as a part of your routine.
The next time one of these five pesky excuses start to creep into your head in the morning or near the end of your workday, use these tips to overcome and get your body working.
1. "I hate getting sweaty!"
Maybe you hate washing your hair, don't want to shower again after you exercise, roll your eyes at the extra laundry that comes with sweaty workout clothes or you simply hate the feeling of being sweaty.
"First, let's reframe your relationship with 'sweaty'," says Sarajean Rudman, M.S., a certified advanced yoga instructor and health and wellness coach at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. "Sweat is one of the number one ways we detoxify our bodies. Anything that doesn't belong inside of us, the body will try to get outside of us. Sweating through exercise is one of the best ways to do this."
Depending on how much you sweat during your workout, you might only need to wipe off with some organic body wipes and spray dry shampoo in your hair. If you choose to shower after your workout, you might find that it's time saving not to wash your hair. A high, tight bun with a bit of hairspray is a great way to disguise dirty hair as wet hair.
Wearing quick-drying gym clothes so sweat doesn't linger on your skin is hugely important, says Rudman. Think about what you're packing to wear after your gym class, too. If you're still hot from your workout, you might not want to pull on a wool suit or itchy sweater for work that day. A silk or linen shirt will likely feel nicer on your skin than a heavy material.
"Reaching for something like organic rose water to spray to help give you a fresh scent, or diffusing little essential peppermint oil in some water in a spritzer bottle can help make all the difference post-workout once you are dressed and ready to roll," says Rudman.
2. "I look stupid or silly while working out."
Whether you signed up for a dance class and are feeling self-conscious about having two left feet, or, you think everyone is staring at you on the treadmill, chances are you're probably wrong.
"The truth is, nobody cares what you look like at the gym. They're all too busy worrying about what they look like," Rudman explains. "When we feel awkward in a situation it's because it's usually a new situation, and when we are doing new things and exposing ourselves to new activities, we are growing and evolving."
Everyone in a group fitness class—even the most talented dancers—were beginners once. You will not be the only newbie at the gym, especially in January. If you're uncomfortable with equipment, consider taking advantage of the gym's personal training offerings. Many gyms offer a free introductory session where a trainer will walk around with you and introduce you to various machines, making this the perfect opportunity to ask questions and get a lay of the land. If you really don't know where to start, enlist the help of a seasoned friend or hire a personal trainer just for a few sessions to learn the ropes.
"Finding comfort and a 'who cares' attitude in an awkward situation at the gym can help you get stronger physically, but also mentally and emotionally, as well," she says.
The key here is to fake it until you make it—and ask for help when you really have no idea what that machine on the weight-room floor is supposed to do.
3. "I feel like I'm starving after a workout."
You might find that you feel hungrier once you start increasing the frequency or intensity of your exercise routine. You may have even used the excuse, "Working out makes me gain weight!" or "Running makes me so hungry!"
When you push your body in a workout, you're burning energy and using up glycogen stores, which causes a dip in blood sugar and a release of ghrelin to stimulate hunger. How much you need to eat after working out, though, depends on how hard you exercised and your training goals.
First, make sure you're hydrated. Dehydration can mask itself as hunger when all you really need is a huge glass of water and to wait about 15 minutes to assess whether your body really does need food. Our minds tend to wander to food after a workout out of habit, but taking the time to consider if you're truly hungry could save you from unnecessary snacking.
Eat your first post-workout meal within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing your workout, suggests the American Council on Exercise, or 15 to 20 minutes after an intense workout. Keep in mind that refueling with a large pizza isn't going to do your body any favors, though. The key is to focus on a balanced snack or meal, ideally providing a four-to-one ratio of carbs to protein.
"When we exercise, every part of our body shifts and changes," says Rudman. "Our circulation increases, our digestion improves, our lymph system clears out, our mind gets sharper, our respiratory system beefs up and hormones balance out. Beginning a new workout routine is almost pointless without beginning a new eating routine, so your needs and desires will certainly change as your activity level increases or shifts." Fueling your body with the right kinds of meals and snacks throughout the day—which includes planning for post-workout snacks on days of high-intensity exercise—should help to eradicate those ravenous post-workout feelings.
4. "Exercise makes me tired."
You're putting off taking a morning exercise class because you think you'll be exhausted the rest of the day and you have a ton of things to get accomplished today.
Science has proven time and again that regular exercise plays a role in reducing fatigue, though, and that's not just for the super fit. Sedentary people who reported feeling tired increased their energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent by engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise, according to one study. That means you could even do a walking exercise video or LISS workout in your living room and experience an energy boost.
"I can't emphasize getting enough sleep," Rudman adds regarding becoming a morning exerciser. "If you are fueled properly with rest and a healthy diet from the day before, your morning workout will wake you up and make the rest of your day more productive and energetic. Will you be tired the first couple of days if you are someone who usually sleeps until the very last minute before catching the train or car to work? Yes. But it's okay. Within a week, your body will catch on to this [new] rhythm and you will be waking up before your alarm even dings."
Getting your workout done in the morning also helps immensely with morning elimination, digestion and alertness, so you can enter your workday feeling like a million bucks. "And the best part about morning workouts? You don't have to spend all day thinking about when you'll fit your sweat session in. It's done. Check that one off your list and move on," Rudman says.
5. "I don't have time to exercise!"
Your schedule is jam-packed. Your family's schedule is packed to the gills. The idea of finding time to get to the gym, workout, shower and get ready seems impossible. We get it. We've been there. "Lucky for you, frequency is way more important than duration for working out," says Rudman. The solution is finding small ways to squeeze in exercise throughout the day, without becoming drenched in sweat.
Program into the notes section of your phone workout moves you love or a bunch of mini, 5- to 10- minute routines. For example, you can do an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) routine or short bursts of workout moves whenever you have a short break. That could be some jumping jacks when you arrive at your kids' school early, squats while you're on hold on a call or incline pushups on the counter while waiting for water to boil.
If you prefer a full routine, pick a few exercises and do 10 to 15 reps of each: squats, lunges, high knees, pushups, dips and maybe jumping jacks. Do as many rounds of those as you can while your phone or kitchen timer is set for five minutes. If you do three, four or five mini-workouts a day, you will have exercised for 30 minutes. Once you get comfortable with that, build up to 10-minute workouts and aim for six sessions a day to work up to an hour.
As Woody Allen once said, "Eighty percent of life is showing up." That logic applies to working out, too. While it's great to give 110 percent during your workout every time, it's not always realistic. If you don't feel like working out, simply get started and remember that some exercise is always better than nothing as long as you're feeling healthy.