February 23, 2011

What Is YOUR Excuse?

It's no secret that I've become addicted to working out. I try to work out every day: I run, bike or swim. Sometimes I do something different and I do the ellipitcal or another machine instead. And I try to lift weights for strength training at least 3 times a week. Not only do I need to work out daily because I'm in training---I still have 3 half marathons and 4 triathlons left to complete this year!-- but I FEEL better when I work out. I feel good physically, mentally and emotionally. Of course, there are days that I have to skip my workout. Sometimes I wake up and I am utterly exhausted, or I am sick. On those days I listen to my body and take a rest day. Other days it's logistically impossibly for me to get a workout in. And that's ok---to miss a day here and there is fine.

Because I am so committed to an active lifestyle now, I don't understand people who aren't. I mean, I literally don't understand how people can NOT be active! I'm not saying that people need to work out daily like I do, but there is no reason not to be active at least 3-4 days a week.

People have excuses.

Trust me, I used to be the queen of excuses. I went for many years being an on-again-off-again runner and gym rat. On my off-months (or off-years even) I would say that I didn't have time. Or that my weight was fine, I didn't need to exercise. Or that the gym was too far away.

What I wasn't taking into account was that even though my weight was fine, I was at-risk for some medical problems. I have a horrific heart history on both sides of my family, and even though I have low cholesterol and very low blood pressure it doesn't mean I am not at risk myself. Plus, I have osteopenia and exercising will help me increase my bone density. And, of course, everyone knows the other benefits of exercise: it decreases the risk of cancer, helps with depression, and gives more energy, among tons of other benefits.

Plus, regular exercise makes your body look hot!

What I have come to realize is that if you really want to do something, you will find any excuse TO do it. If you don't want to do something, you'll find any excuse NOT to. For example, let's say I hurt my foot and can't run (this is not a far-fetched example, as I am injury-prone!). If I wasn't committed to working out, I'd blow it off and "rest" until I felt better, days or even weeks later. But now? If my foot hurts and I can't run, that's ok. I can still do something else that is non-impact: I can swim, bike, or do the elliptical. In short, there is no excuse that I can come up with for not exercising, but there are a million excuses I can find to do it.

This is the same premise in life: if you really want to do something you find a way to do it. Want to take a vacation you can't afford? You can save a little bit each month until you can afford it. Want to find time to pursue a hobby? If you really want to, you'll find a way to carve out the time, no matter how busy you are.

I am always reminded of something I heard about our President. Who is busier than the President of the United States? Not many people. The President has a very busy, extremely stressful schedule. Yet each of our recent Presidents have found time to exercise. Bill Clinton and George W Bush ran, and Barack Obama runs and plays basketball. If THEY can find time in their schedules, I think everyone can.

Here is my rebuttal for people's excuses not to exercise:

  • "I don't have time." See my above paragraph about the President of the United States. Everyone can make time to work out. It may not be every day, but I have a hard time believing that people can't find 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week, to get their heart pumping and body sweating. I myself have trouble finding time in the day, so most of my workouts are done early in the morning. Do I LIKE getting up at 5:20 in the morning to get to the pool? No. But if I don't get in the pool by 5:45, then I won't have time to swim. I suck up the early wake-up alarm and just do it. Also, re-examine your schedule. What can you cut out? Do you need to be on the phone so much? Or watching so much television? Or surfing the web? If you cut out ONE TV show, there is your 30-60 minutes. Or you can multi-task and watch TV WHILE you exercise!

  • "It's too hot/cold/windy." I understand that sometimes weather can affect workouts. But that is no excuse. If it's too cold, and you want to run outside, dress in appropriate layers. It it's too hot, wear as little as you can, and try to schedule the workout for earlier in the day, or in the evening, when it is a bit cooler. Or, move your workout inside! Join a gym and get on the treadmill, bike, or take a class---inside is always heated or cooled, depending on the season. I see my friends on Twitter and dailymile work out in extreme weather all the time. I'm in awe---living in San Diego I don't have quite those challenges--but they do it and make it work.

  • "I can't afford a gym." Gym memberships can be pricey, so shop around. It doesn't have to be a fancy gym---the local Y may have something in your price range. Or, skip the gym all together! All you really need is a good pair of shoes to run in. You can buy weights or resistance bands at Target or a sports re-sale shop. You can even buy exercise DVDs and do a class in the privacy of your own living room. As a last resort you can put on the radio and dance; go up and down your staircase; go for a walk around your neighborhood. Sometimes, though, paying for a gym membership can be incentive to go. I used to belong to a gym that was several miles (and a few freeway exits) away. It was cheap, but because it was far (at least in my mind) I never went. A few years ago I quit that gym and joined a gym that was half a mile from my house (but 3 times the cost!) However, I use it! Because it's so close, and I pay so much, it's hard NOT to go!

  • "I don't like to run/bike/swim/lift weights." That's ok! Do something else! Take a walk, go for a hike, or even put on some good music and DANCE for 30 minutes! Try yoga, ballet, a spin class, water aerobics. Anything that you can do to move your body is good!

  • "Exercise is boring." Exercise can be fun! I always bring my iPod on my runs, and delight in updating my playlist from iTunes periodically. I love to listen to music. I also listen to a few podcasts, and download these for my long runs. Many gyms have televisions to watch while working out. You can also enlist a friend! Having buddy run or walk with you definitely makes the time go faster. On days when I am exercising and can't listen to music (like when I'm swimming, or riding my bike on the road) I let my mind wander, daydream, sing out loud, or concentrate on my form. You can take a fun class (try being bored in a zumba class!) or try something new (it's hard to be bored when you are concentrating on learning!) We all do things that are boring: sit through meetings, go on long flights, attend work parties. But we do them. Exercise is just as important, and whatever boredom you may feel can be easily alleviated.

  • "I have kids." Find a gym with child care. My daughter, A, LOVES to go to the daycare at my gym. Hire a sitter or do a swap with a friend to watch each other's kids. Put the baby in a stroller and go for a long walk. Take a Mommy-and-Me yoga class where your baby is part of the class. Put on a DVD and do a workout while the baby is napping, or the kids are playing nearby. Put on roller-skates and skate with your kids. Take your kids to a nearby park and run with them, or play basketball with them. MOVE WITH THEM.

  • "I don't know what to do." Well, you know how to walk. If you can walk, then walk. If you want to kick it up, hire a personal trainer for a few sessions, read a book, or ask a fitness-savvy friend. I myself took a few swimming lessons last summer when I decided I wanted to do triathlon; I needed to work on my form. There are experts all around us....just ask!

  • "I'm too old and/or out-of-shape." Nonsense. You're never too old or out-of-shape to start. There are women with blue hair at my gym, in the pool doing water aerobics and doing strength training on the machines. There are overweight people everywhere walking off the pounds.
In short, there no excuse in the world not to exercise. But there is every excuse in the world TO JUST DO IT! There is no better feeling than a runner's high, or a post-workout glow, or the feeling of satisfaction knowing that you just pushed your body. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.


  1. I used to be the queen of excuses too! That's why I got to be 250 pounds...

    Realizing that I had to make a change made all of those excuses invalid. I stopped talking myself out of getting healthy and just DID it!

  2. i completely agree 100% with this post! Seriously, who can't find 20-30 minutes in their day to do something active! Even if it is doing push ups or crunches during commercials at night. It is totally doable! Yes, there are those days where things come up...but 3 to 4 days a week is COMPLETELY attainable!

  3. I was an excuse queen for two years before I got back on track - and I gained about 40lbs in that 2 year period! I was totally in denial - stressful job justified vegging out after work, it's more fun going out with family and friends instead of workouts, and "not enough time" because of a long commute. All bullshit. Then one day I had to go on a business trip to London and didn't have anything to wear because I was too fat for all of the suits I already owned. I got on the scale & saw 242 and knew I HAD to make a change. 15 months later, I'm 25lbs lighter and feeling better than ever. I work out 5-6 days a week and can't imagine my life any other way! Yes, it's hectic and stressful to fit in the long hours at work, workouts and quality time with my hubby. But it's worth it! Sure, I'll have to adjust again whenever we have children, but for now, I'll take a crazy schedule, fun activities with my husband and friends and HEALTH over being overweight and unhappy!

  4. I love this post! It is so easy to make excuses - mine was always "I don't know what to do!" and "my weight is fine!" but exercising makes me much happier than lazing around (most of the time. I do enjoy a good nap!).

  5. Braggart! Seriously, I'm happy for your healthy habit, SM.

  6. Great blog post! Unfortunately I have seen a slight decline at our gym since January. People are not keeping up with their resolutions!

  7. I am just like you, I often wonder why people think they can't workout. Um, yes, they can, even 20 minutes a day!
    And the excuse "I can't afford a gym", there's a zillion luxuries that people pay for and don't need! Like: dinner out every friday night, text plan, cellphone, highspeed internet, NetFlix, a bottle of wine every saturday.. <--all things that can be eliminated if needed to join a gym!
    Great post! I'm with you, I must workout!!


I love to read your comments!