How to beat your exercise excuses!

With today’s frantic schedules, exercise is often the item on our to-do list that gets pushed to the bottom and forgotten. Whatever your reason for putting it off, here are the most commonly used exercise excuses – and ways to banish them! It’s never too late to start living your fittest and healthiest life.

Fitness Excuse #1: Being too tired

Reasons

The struggle is real: lack of sleep, lack of exercise and a lack of healthy foods can all result in extreme fatigue and reluctance to train.

Ways to combat it

  • Make the commitment. You’re also too tired to fetch the kids from school sometimes – but you still go! Exercise needs to rank high on the list of priorities.
  • Remember that you never regret a workout. You are guaranteed to feel good afterwards, so power through any reluctance you have beforehand and know that you will feel better for it.
  • Just show up. If the thought of a really tough or intense session is putting you off, just make your goal to simply arrive – doing a littler versus doing your whole session is still better than nothing. Once you’re there you can decide how much you’re up for, and chances are your energy levels will pick up during the session and you’ll forget you were tired.
  • Remember that exercise is ENERGISING. It often has the same – if not better – energizing effects of a nap for the same length of time. Exercise also helps regulate circadian rhythms and can improve your quality of sleep. If you’re feeling exhausted, remind yourself that you will feel LESS tired after the session.

ALSO SEE: How To Burn More Calories

Fitness Excuse #2: Not having enough time

Reasons

Kids, demanding schedules, travelling or working two jobs can feel like there is simply no time to include daily exercise.

Ways to combat it

  • This one is simply about prioritising. Exercise needs to be set as one of your non-negotiables – we don’t exercise for fun (well, some of us do): we NEED it to look better, feel more energized, build strength and keep our bodies healthy. Remember how critical exercise is to your happiness and health when you are tempted to skip.
  • Add ‘BUFFER’ time to a busy schedule. Exercise needs to be pencilled in like everything else, but it’s often the first thing to be removed from the list when the going gets rough. If you have a daily to-do list, UNDERestimate yourself rather than OVERestimate, and make that list shorter. What you essentially do is pencil in ‘buffering’ time around your other activities, to factor in emergencies, complications or unplanned events. That way your commitments for the day will stay safe, and you won’t have to forego any of them.
  • Commit to 20 minutes of exercise – you can torch serious calories in just 20 minutes if you’re prepared to get intense.
  • Make the effort to prepare before bed. A 20-minute session of meal-planning and packing gym clothes is often all it takes to make your morning run smoother.
  • Make ONE activity on the weekend fitness based. Go for a family run on the beach or a challenging hike to a pretty destination instead of watching a movie. You’ll sneak in an extra workout so you have less to do in the week.
  • Cook in bulk. Make more of your healthier meals – stews, curries and bolognese and portion them off in the freezer. Make smoothie bags for the freezer too, for quick blending in a hurry.

Fitness Excuse #3: Not being able to afford contracted exercise / trainers / classes

Reasons

Most people associate exercise with two things – gym contracts and personal trainers, both of which are usually reserved for the privileged few.

Ways to combat it

  • Explore free options. parkrun, road and trail running clubs and free outdoor gym equipment available nationwide all make free exercise a reality.
  • Train at home. This is one of the easiest and most effective training options. You can source FREE online gym tutorials, no gym clothes are required, and you can make use of fitness DVDs for a very affordable once-off purchase and enjoy supervised exercise at home. Minimal equipment can really maximise your workout – a set of changeable weights is more than enough.

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Fitness Excuse #4: Not knowing how to train / eat properly

Reasons

Exercise feels unproductive and your time is wasted when you’re not sure how to do most standard moves correctly.

Ways to combat it

  • Attend fitness classes. The instructors are in charge of keeping you in check.
  • Exercise with an informed friend. Shadowing someone who knows what they’re doing gives you a good guideline of what to do.
  • Follow fitness DVDs and online tutorials – any information provided by a professional is going to include good form.
  • Accept that nutritional health is something we should be constantly updating our knowledge on and that we as individuals need to take responsibility for it. Marketers aren’t truth-tellers. It’s not ‘low fat’ or ‘sugar-free’ that’s going to make you healthier, it’s fresher, less processed produce together with sound nutritional knowledge. You need to dedicate time to learning what it takes to be healthy. It will make being flexible much easier and will lift your dependency off of fad diets and trends.

Fitness Excuse #5: Fear of being judged by others

Reasons

Not having proper gym clothes, being too self-conscious to exercise in public or being unsure of what you’re doing can all make you skip the gym entirely.

Ways to combat it

  • Training at home is an easy option – there are no gym clothes required.
  • Invest in a good sports bra and good trainers. For women, those are the biggest investments in your gym wardrobe that need to be made. Once you’ve got those out the way, you can get the rest of your gear very affordable.
  • Sign up for group sessions or attend a class. In this environment, you are one of many, not singled out or responsible for deciding what move comes next.
  • Master a few moves. If you are going to the gym, practice the basics at home – those are squats, lunges, pushups, triceps dips and planks. These are the easiest moves to master and you can stick to these essentials at the gym and still enjoy a well-rounded, full-body workout. Once you’ve gained more confidence, you can add more moves to your repertoire.

Fitness Excuse #6: You never see results

Reasons

Failed previous attempts often create hopelessness. Aggressive starts to a fitness programme followed by poor maintenance could mean your results are short-lived. Following short-term quick fixes or fad diets almost always guarantee disappointment once they’re over and your progress reverses. Attempting to switch to a healthy lifestyle the slow and steady way is often not stimulating enough, as the results are too slow to keep you motivated.

Ways to combat it

  • Get a better reason for being fit. Being more than image-driven is a crucial step in staying motivated. Having a mantra of HEALTH, ENERGY and HAPPINESS each time you train will remind you why you’re doing it.
  • Remember that true healthy habits are a slow burn: energy will creep up slowly, and kilograms will drop off slowly. Don’t expect immediate results. This is why IMPROVED HEALTH is the best goal to set – knowing the greater good behind what you’re doing every step of the way versus checking in the mirror for a result you might not see yet will keep you on track.
  • Do a detox. If you simply have to have a kickstart to stay motivated, try a week’s detox. You will likely drop a kilogram or two quickly and feel energized within a few days. It’s a good start to long-term healthy habits.
  • Take a selfie – it’s true! Photo evidence really is the best way to measure your success, especially when it’s slow. The scale is also not a great reflection of your progress, so stick to tracking your visual improvement for motivation.
  • Make sure you set a goal and know how to achieve it. The same workout doesn’t yield the same results in everyone. Ask a fitness friend what type of exercise YOU need to be doing to get the look you want.

Fitness Excuse #7: Thinking your general daily activity qualifies as exercise

Reasons

Running around after toddlers, being extremely busy throughout the day and being on the move constantly can make it feel like you’ve clocked in more effort than the average workout. The truth is, business and the fatigue that comes from it is not always an accurate reflection on how much physical exertion you have made in a day.

Ways to combat it

  • Wear an activity tracker. It still doesn’t monitor intensity (although the Fitbit HR does), but you’ll know if you’re meeting your general requirement of 10 000 steps. This is my favourite tracker right now.
  • Most of the time its intensity we’re lacking. You need to do something that makes you feel challenged, raises your heartbeat or makes you sweat. Think running up the stairs versus a slow stroll up. Skip the long, drawn-out slow walks and add in intense bursts of exercise wherever possible to really reap incidental exercise benefits – carry the groceries instead of taking a trolley, take the stairs and do heavier household tasks yourself rather than always opting out and letting someone stronger do it.
  • Schedule in actual exercise. It may just be an added 15 minutes to your day, but you may need to pencil in exercise – even during your favourite TV show if you think your general activity is not cutting it.

Fitness Excuse #8: Feeling too old to train

Reasons

As we age and aches and niggles creep in, it’s common to think that exercise will do further damage or just aggravate existing pain.

Ways to combat it

  • Remember that exercise is the number one preventative against a myriad of illnesses and ailments associated with ageing. It is a form of defence you can’t afford to neglect and is considered critical to health as we get older.
  • Stiffness and soreness are normal after a few initial sessions, it is not an indicator that exercise aggravates pain. You need to push through the initial tough stages to really feel the benefits of exercise and to actually alleviate and prevent further pain over time.
  • Women lose muscle mass rapidly as we age, and bone density lessens as a result. Exercise is crucial in building muscle strength, strong bones, improving posture, helping us heal quicker from injury or ailment, improving balance and preventing falls, improving range of motion. Bouncing on a mini-trampoline is a highly beneficial form of fitness if you’re older: it improves balance, flexibility, core strength, circulation, bone density and is considered anti-ageing.