When you’re feeling overworked or overwhelmed, it’s easy to find an excuse to skip a workout…or two…or a whole week’s worth. But don’t let bad excuses get in the way of good intentions. Here’s how to keep them from derailing your fitness routine.
THE EXCUSE: “I’m too busy!”
Instead of letting your endless to-do list take priority over your health goals, treat exercise like any other important task. “It’s about prioritizing and planning ahead. Set a time and schedule it, as if it were a dental appointment,” says Jimi Varner, a trainer on MTV’s I Used to be Fat series. Of course, there will be days when you really are too swamped to squeeze in a full workout—but that doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Instead, try to carve out a few minutes to break a sweat. “If you have just 10 minutes, it’s still progress,” Varner says. “It doesn’t have to be an hour and a half, so knock it off.” Go outdoors and do a few sprints, or try a time-crunch-friendly program like FOCUS T25 or P90X3.
THE EXCUSE: “I’m beat.”
Whether you’re sore from yesterday’s workout or drained from a long week at work, don’t bail out just because you’re low on energy. Start slowly, and gauge how you’re feeling after the first few minutes. “It’s okay to exercise at a lower intensity for a shorter time. Start doing it, and really listen to your body to see if this is nurturing or punishing,” says Michelle Segar, PhD, Associate Director for University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center and a motivation and behavioral sustainability researcher. “This helps get people more in tune with their body and actually can improve their desire to move.” Promise yourself you’ll do the first five minutes of your workout—once you get going, chances are you’ll go ahead and push through.
THE EXCUSE: “I’m broke.”
When you’re on a tight budget, it can be hard to justify the cost of a monthly gym membership. But you don’t need Globo-Gym to get in shape. “Walking is among the best ways to move, and you can do it anywhere,” Segar says. And Varner suggests picking up furniture movers (usually under $10) and using them for lunges or mountain climbers. And, ahem, we can recommend a few DVD training programs that won’t break the bank.
THE EXCUSE: “The gym is intimidating.”
You might feel like everyone’s staring at you, but the truth is, they’re probably way too busy worrying about what they look like. So get out of hermit mode and go build a support system. “Everybody you see in these classes was once in your shoes,” Varner says. “They understand how you feel and the courage it takes to be there. And they will be more than happy to help and be supportive and friendly.”
THE EXCUSE: “I’m bored.”
If you do the same workout every…single…day, it’s easy to fall into a rut. But there’s no rule that you have to stick to a rigid, repetitive fitness regimen. “You can change up any part of your routine,” Segar says. Renew your enthusiasm by starting a new program, joining a new class, ditching the treadmill for a hiking trail, or making a friendly weight-loss wager with a friend.
THE EXCUSE: “I’m dieting instead.”
Just because you’re counting calories, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to chill on the couch. “Diet alone works well when weight loss is the goal, but adding exercise to the mix can enhance the results,” Varner says. “Exercise has countless other health benefits than just weight loss—you’ll look better, feel better, sleep better, have more energy, and be more productive at work and home.” And with all those benefits, why would you want to make excuses?