Lots of people know they should be getting fit, but they can’t seem to find the time to form the fitness habit.
And while I understand this completely — I was stuck in overweight, unhealthy mode for years — I think it’s useful to take a look at the justifications we give ourselves to put it off.
I put things off because I didn’t have time, or energy, or I had too many family commitments, or not enough motivation, or work kept getting in the way, or I didn’t feel good enough to run, or I was sick, or other people would make things difficult, or I didn’t have the money for a gym membership … you get the idea.
But I’ve learned to kill all the excuses. Or to put it less violently, I’ve found loving ways to let them go and embrace the joy of a fit and healthy life.
I did it with six kids and a wife, a full-time job (and now my own business), a ton of family and work commitments, freelancing on the side, building a blog on the side, while writing various books … and so the excuses were ultimately meaningless.
Why might you be putting things off? Let’s look at the justifications, and try to blast them.
- I don’t have the time. Do 5 minutes a day. You can squeeze 5 minutes of brisk walking into your busy schedule. If you can’t, you might need to seriously rethink your priorities. Cut back on TV, Internet surfing, watching or reading the news. This 5 minutes a day (for now) will save your life. If you can’t go outside to walk due to the weather, do some pushups, air squats and lunges at home or near your desk. Start with 5 minutes of an easy exercise, and once you’ve learned to fit this into your day, you can expand to 10 minutes.
- I have kids, dude. Yeah, me too — I have six of them. They’re awesome, and I love spending time with them. So I take them to the park and play with them, running and climbing and lifting them up (like weights) and putting them on my shoulders and running up hills. By exercising in front of them, and with them, I’m setting a good example for them that they will take into adulthood. We combine exercise and bonding time. Or split time with your spouse, or do it when they’re at school or sleeping (at night or early mornings). You owe it to your kids to get healthy and stay healthy into old age.
- My job takes my time and energy. Mine too — at one point I was working two jobs while starting a blog/business (and writing about 20 posts a week). I know that work drains your energy and sucks up your time, but if you put fitness first, you can do both. Workout before work — it’s a great way to start your day, get some key thinking done, get energized before you start working. Or workout right after work — great way to unwind, de-stress, and perhaps spend time with your spouse or friend or kids.
- I’m too tired. Not working out actually makes you feel more tired most of the time — in my experience and from lots of people I’ve talked to about this. When you work out regularly, you feel refreshed, energized, de-stressed, ready to take on the world. If you’re tired, just tell yourself all you need to do is lace up your shoes and get out the door — even the most tired among us can do that!
- I’m sick or injured. If you’re really sick, with a fever or serious medical condition, exercise at this moment might not be best — rest is sometimes better. Same with serious injuries. But often you can do something with lesser illnesses and injuries, and we just let the pain or tiredness stop us. Consult a doctor if you have a serious condition, but most people who just have the sniffles can still go for a walk or do some bodyweight exercises at home.
- My family isn’t supportive. That is definitely tough, but you have options. One of my favorite tactics is getting my family on board early — before I’ve decided to make a change, when I’m still thinking about it. I send them articles I’m reading, talk to them about things I’ve learned, why this is important to me, etc. Then when I’m ready to make a decision to change, I ask for their help deciding — and then their help implementing. Another tactic is to just ask for them to give you the space to make your own change, even if they don’t want to support you, and then find support online. Finally, sometimes you have to take responsibility for your life instead of blaming it on others, and just do what you need to do, and try to win their support and educate them along the way, even if they’re not there at first.
- The gym is too expensive, or too far. Go walking or running outside. Doing bodyweight exercises at home or in the office is free. You can do yoga at home using free videos online.
- It’s too hard. Start easy. Just 5 minutes of walking, or just 5 pushups. If that’s too hard, do 2 minutes of walking or 2 pushups. Starting small and only progressing gradually beats this objection every time, and is generally a good idea for other habit-change reasons as well.
- I don’t have the right equipment/clothes. Use whatever you have. You can go walking in jeans and a T-shirt. I’ve walked and run barefoot many times. You can do bodyweight workouts in your bedroom in your underoos.
- I’m not good at it. No one is good at it when they start out. Everyone has to learn, everyone starts somewhere. You get good at it by doing it. Do it in the privacy of your home if you’re afraid of looking stupid. Find a friend who’s a beginner and do it with them. Or do it with a trainer or a friend who’s really good at it and can show you how.
- I don’t know how. Who cares? Get started — that’s the most important thing. You’ll learn as you go. You don’t need to read a dozen books or websites to learn something — just start, take it easy so you don’t get injured, and educate yourself as you go. If you’re worried about getting injured, do a free session with a trainer or find a friend who knows what he or she is doing.
- I’m not strong, fast, flexible. You know how you get strong? Do strength exercises. You know how you get fast? Keep doing it. A good way to get flexible is to do yoga. Exercise solves all these problems.
- I hate running. So don’t run! There are a thousand different ways to exercise. Walk, bike, swim, do yoga, pilates, tai chi, martial arts, strength training, bodyweight exercises, dance aerobics, kickboxing workouts, bootcamps, gymnastics, rock climbing, hiking, basketball, football, soccer, trampolines. Also, running can be fun if you start easy (walk/run intervals), go somewhere beautiful, and do it while conversing with a good friend.
- The weather sucks (too cold, rainy, hot, etc.). Do it inside. Go to a gym or public indoor pool. Or suck it up and go outside anyway! I’ve run in torrential rain (it’s amazing), done Crossfit in freezing early morning weather, done a GoRuck Challenge with 70 lbs. of weight on my back for 13 hours in the middle of the night, the heat of midday, freezing ocean water, with sand in my shoes. It’s hella fun.
- I’m not motivated. Bam. Motivated.
Motivation is everywhere. It’s in the mindset. It’s in the people around you doing something amazing, showing what’s possible. It’s in the idea that moving your body can be fun, joyous, miraculous, and that sitting is killing you.
You can have excuses, or you can move. Your choice