I have been racking my brain for over a week now, trying to pick a fun, quirky product to talk about for my first Quirky (Naturally) post. There are so many cool geeky goods I’d love to introduce in the coming months (some more eco-friendly than others), but for today, I’d like to write about my recent struggle to get back into a steady fitness routine.
Disclosure: The content in this post is my personal opinion, based on my own experiences. I took all photos appearing in this post, with the exception of those I am in (which were taken by friends). Links are NOT affiliated and I am in no way being compensated for writing this post.
The dreaded exercise slump.
Let’s admit it—we have all experienced an exercise slump at least once in our lives. We need to exercise and we want to exercise, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do any exercise. And chances are we have all found ourselves using excuses to justify why we can’t possibly start now.
Not long ago, I was a huge fitness enthusiast. I played sports twice a week (flag football, soccer, racquetball, volleyball) and went to the gym around 3 times per week (mostly to lift and maybe spend 15 minutes on the elliptical). When I felt like trying something new, I would pop in a well-known extreme fitness DVD program (like P90X, Body Combat, or Body Beast) and work out at home. I was in the best shape of my life, I felt strong, and I was building great muscle tone.
So, what changed?
For one, my past injuries started acting up (the fractured leg, the chronic ankle sprains, the elbow and joint pain). Two, I started a new job (new environment, new stressors and lots of overtime). Three, I got sick (and have continued to suffer from sinus issues at least once a month). Life took a toll on my body and I needed a break. This break turned into something closer to an extended vacation and this extended vacation turned into a leave of absence that I didn’t give myself permission to take!
Believe me when I say that I have tried many times to get back into my old routine, but I keep falling off the wagon. And jumping back on the wagon after 6 months of walking behind it is no easy task. I really need to exercise, I truly want to exercise, but I just don’t.
A virtual intervention.
If any of you are having a similar struggle, feel free to join me as I admit that my reasons for not exercising are merely excuses, and are worthy of a virtual HIMYM-style intervention. I am not going to list 15 random excuses people use to avoid exercise and tell you how to overcome them. Moving past this type of hurdle is very personal and not nearly as simple as “snapping out of it.”
Instead, my goal here is to share my 7 deadly exercise excuses and I can tell you that I have used them all within the last month. And if any of these resonate with you, maybe the least I can do is let you know that you are not alone.
My 7 deadly exercise excuses.
Here we go, in order of how often I use them, from least to most.
#7: “I can’t seem to stick with a program.”
This problem goes all the way back to my childhood, when I could never stick with any activity. I took a few gymnastics classes, kicked my teacher in the face while doing a balance beam somersault, and never went back. I signed up for Magic lessons and changed my mind before I even went to the first day. The only thing I ever stuck with was ballet, which I did for 10 years until I graduated from my dance school. So, the key is definitely passion and true interest.
I have started 5 different programs in the past two years, including Jillian’s Ripped in 30, a program from NROL for Women, P90X, Body Combat, and Body Beast. I lasted the longest with P90X, but after about 60 days, I came down with a cold and it totally knocked me off my game. I think the reason that I can’t stick to a routine is that I keep choosing 90-day programs with 6-day per week schedules. In the beginning it is exciting and easy to get into something like this, but after 30 or 60 days, I get bored, run down, or both.
This time around, my parents bought me P90X3 (yes there is a 3) and I aspire to actually do the full 90-day program—just not in 90 days. I know better than to overload myself after taking a long break, so I will start slowly with about 4 times per week and see how it goes :)
#6: “I don’t want to diet. And if I don’t diet, then what I eat will just cancel out the exercise I do.”
The age old, why-should-I-work-out-if-I-am-not-going-to-change-my-diet mentality. This is by far the most ridiculous of my excuses. I am not a horrible eater on even my worst day, so why I would think that my diet would cancel out any progress is just absurd. When I was in the best shape of my life, I wasn’t on a diet. I know that once I start lifting again, I will have to adjust my food intake to some extent and I will most likely gain weight before I lose any. But I’m ok with that. Even exercise without a diet is better than no exercise at all.
#5: “I am feeling sick (again).”
These days I feel sick more often than I feel well. Headaches, digestive issues, exhaustion, stuffy nose, and joint pain plague me on a daily basis. So, I often use illness as an excuse to put off exercise, but in reality exercise would surely do me good. I remember feeling so much better when I was working out regularly, so I’m not sure why that doesn’t motivate me to pick up my dumbbells. I even broke a fever once by playing a game of flag football! I know that by exercising I can increase the blood flow to my brain and body. As a result, my muscles will receive an oxygen boost, helping to increase and release my natural painkillers (endorphins)!
#4: “I am too busy.”
Umm, everyone is busy. These days I use this excuse mostly because I work crazy hours, and never know what time I will be leaving the office. Then, when I finally make it home, I am either too tired (see number 3) or I know I still need to do a lot of things and get overwhelmed. But should any of us be saying that we are too busy for our health? If we are too busy to take care of ourselves, how can we expect to be able to do any of the things keeping us busy? When something is important, you make time for it—even if it is later than you wanted or means something else needs to wait until tomorrow. I realize that I need to make a conscious effort to balance work and life, so that I have time to exercise, but also so I have time to spend with my family and friends (and a little time for relaxing!). Lucky for me, the X3 consists of all 30-minute workouts! No excuses now, huh?
#3: “I am too tired.”
The “too tired” excuse seems to go hand in hand with the “too busy” excuse. Being busy makes us tired. Being stressed makes us tired. And being tired makes us tired :) Whether you are on your feet all day or sitting at a desk, exhaustion can manifest itself physically and/or mentally. Personally, I find staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day to be one of the most exhausting things I do! I also believe that some of my tiredness stems from my hormone imbalance. Regardless, sometimes the best solution for tiredness is to move. There is just something utterly ironic about me being too tired to exercise, when if I just got myself moving, exercise would give me more energy!
#2: “I have no motivation.”
Well, after reading the previous 5 excuses, this one I’m sure comes at no surprise. Not sticking with a program, not wanting to diet, and feeling sick, busy, and tired would cause any person to lack motivation. But when you think about it, if I had enough energy and motivation to come up with all of these excuses, and now write them down, then I can’t possibly lack motivation, right? I need to take some of my blogging motivation and share it with my exercise intent :)
#1: “I will start next week.”
All I can say about this one is slippery slope. I have never been a procrastinator, so I’m not sure why this is the one I always fall back on. I am constantly saying I’ll start my new program after I get better, after the next big holiday, or after this rough week—but here’s the thing—there is always a next week and one next week turns into another and another and another, until 6 months have passed you by and you can barely walk up the stairs without having to catch your breath. Well, ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. Instead of saying I will start next week (and FYI, my latest is, I will start after I post this article), I need to start today.
So, those are my big 7. Yes, I’ve compiled them and gone to the extreme with some of the examples, but writing them down has been very liberating. Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with many people about fitness struggle. Sometimes it is easier to get motivated (upcoming event, summer, losing weight), but other times you just can’t get back into it no matter how much you want to.
As corny as it may sound, what I’ve learned is that I need to let go of all of my mental blocks, so that I can free myself to focus on my wellness. And, if you are struggling as I am, I challenge you to write down your 7 exercise excuses (maybe you have more, maybe less). Once you do, figuratively tear them up and let them go. If you catch yourself using one, remember that you are in control and those setbacks don’t define you.
Start your fitness journey anew, or pretend you never took a break, and surge forward with as much or as little as you want to give.
What is your deadliest exercise excuse? In the comments section below, feel free to share your own struggles and/or let me know if you would be interested in more fitness posts.