When it comes to skipping exercise, we all have a handful of different excuses that we love to use. But luckily there are also several strategies you can use to conquer them. We’ve rounded up a list of the most common (and if we’re all honest, the lamest) excuses for not exercising, and we called on the help of several fitness experts to find out how to crush them. Here’s what they had to say.
Sometimes the mind tries to trick us into rewarding ourselves prematurely. When you try to use the fact that you ate well for the day to rationalize skipping out on the gym, remind yourself that a nutritious diet is only half of the equation. “Eating healthy is great, but only part of the battle,” says Scott Malin, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and co-creator of the Dynamics of Motion workout system. “Eating healthy is a critical factor in losing fat, but you need to work out to build lean muscle. And building lean muscle significantly increases your metabolism, which will help you burn even more fat.”
Most fitness experts agree, this excuse is OK to use every now and then. After all, you do need to rest and it’s OK to give your body a day off if you feel overworked. But when this excuse is used over and over again, that’s when it becomes a problem. “It's OK to work out every other day, but you need to find a system and routine that works for you,” says Jillian Lama, a representative for Mind + Matter, a company that creates nutrition and lifestyle programs for people who want to improve their mental and physical health. She suggests signing up for personal training or group exercise classes to help ensure that you’ll stick to a regular workout routine.
This excuse is probably one of the oldest in the books, but it’s also probably one of the silliest; when you’re feeling tired and sluggish, exercising is one of the best ways to boost your energy levels. When this thought is trying to lure you away from your workout, Malin recommends that you do a bit of bargaining with yourself. Say, “I’ll do just a few sets of resistance training or 10 minutes on the elliptical.” More often than not, you’ll start to feel better and end up finishing a whole workout. And even if you don’t, at least you did something rather than nothing.
The stress-reducing effects of exercise totally invalidate this excuse. In fact, feeling stressed-out is a perfect reason why you should get a workout in. “Working out is a great way to relieve stress,” says Lama. She suggests making sure you choose exercises and activities that you really enjoy so that instead of something you’re dreading, working out feels fun and exciting for you.
“Your workout and personal life should balance, so take time for both,” says Lama. She suggests planning ahead so that you can maintain a consistent exercise routine and a personal life at the same time. But if you’re really serious about your goals, don’t let happy hour or other distractions disrupt your progress. “You have to ask yourself how serious you are about getting results,” says Malin. “If excuses like this are going to derail you, then you are not serious about getting into shape and reaching your goals.”
We’ve all been here before: you had every intention of going to the gym but stormy weather makes cuddling up on the couch sound like a much better idea. Sure, it sounds like the superior choice, but as both Lama and Malin point out, it’s really no reason not to exercise. “[Working out] will improve your mood, give you energy and help you stay focused when it's gloomy outside,” says Lama. Malin noted that if something as simple as the weather can convince you not to work out, then you might need to reevaluate your goals. “You have to take a good, hard look at why you are working out in the first place,” he said. If your motivation is waning you may need to come up with better reasons and goals.
For this excuse, Malin says the solution is simple; make fitness more fun. “The only reason you don't feel like working out is because you’re looking at it all wrong,” he said. “You need to make exercise fun so you enjoy your time in the gym.” He explained that it shouldn’t feel like a chore and that with the more fun you have, the less you will continue to create excuses for avoiding exercise. “The more you love it, the more you will stick with it. And if you stick with it, you will get results,” he said.
Working out with a friend is a great way to help maintain your motivation, but when your buddy bails (for whatever reason) it becomes really easy to say something like, “Well, now I’m not going to go either.” Malin says that if you’re serious about the goals you set then the gym will be a priority for you no matter what, even if your regular routine is altered a bit. “Use it as an opportunity to do some different exercises then you normally would,” he said.