I admit it, sometimes I don’t want to work out. I’m tired or hungry or I think I may have strained my left earlobe, so I should probably rest it. Whatever the excuse, I’ll find it. But, since I know that working out is an important path to being a whole, healthy human, I try to work out no matter how I’m feeling. Here are some ways I’ve combatted the urge to choose naptime over exercise.
Think of your future self. Usually if I’m deciding between working out now and working out in a few hours (during which I will inevitably lose my momentum), I think of my future self. Future Shan will be so happy that I worked out today. Future Shan will be one step closer to her goals of being a healthy human who can lift heavy stuff up and then put heavy stuff back down without hurting herself. Future Shan loves when Past Shan has done the work. Really loves it. Wants to throw Past Shan a parade.
Logic yourself. One of my colleagues asked me a very important question when I said I was tired and didn’t want to work out. Will not working out make you less tired? The answer was inevitably no. So I worked out. (This can also work for emotional distress, general stress, etc.)
Find a way around your excuse. This is like logic with an action step. If you’re too hungry to work out, have a light snack and then work out (or sip on a super shake while you work out). If you have too many errands to run, ride your bike or jog to your errands instead of driving. If you have no clean clothes—where’s the excuse there? You’re just going to get them sweaty anyway. And so on. Whatever your obstacle, find a way around it.
Pre-plan. This helps two-fold. Firstly, this helps with getting to the gym. Keep your gym clothes/water bottle/sneakers handy, schedule in your workouts, snack an hour before your scheduled workout, choose a gym that’s on the way home from work, etc.. Do things in advance to make actual working out as easy as possible. Secondly, this helps with the workout itself. Find a workout program and follow it. If you take the guess work out of what you’re doing, it makes it easier to get the work done.
If you have to, bargain. If you planned to run 3.5 miles, tell yourself that you’re going to run 2 miles and then see how you feel. If at 2 miles you still feel good, awesome! Now try to get to 3. Then you might as well complete the 3.5; I mean, you’ve already done 3. But if you decide at 2 miles that you’d rather stick the claw-end of a hammer in your eye, stop. Cool down, stretch, whatever. Be psyched that you worked out at all. (Celebrate any and all victories.)
Find a way to work out at home. If you really can’t get away or if you can’t afford a gym, set up a workout space. A stability ball, some dumbbells, resistance bands, and a yoga mat can take you far. Not enough cash/space for all that? Bodyweight will do. And you could always squat while holding your baby, dog, plant, gallon of milk if you want to.
Play. Don’t feel like doing a heavy set of deadlifts or running 12 miles today? Give yourself some playtime instead. One secret thing I like to do is to look for workouts on YouTube. Zumba? Boxing? Yoga? Yes, please! I can look like an idiot and no one sees me! I don’t expect to be good at it, because I haven’t done it before! (Side note: don’t do anything that is going to get you hurt.) I can laugh at myself, have a little fun, and get a little sweaty. While it might not improve my deadlift or get me closer to my first marathon, it’s better than sitting around binging netflix. (You can do that after your workout.)
Find someone to hold you accountable. This can be a trainer, a scheduled class, or workout buddy. Having an appointment to work out can make the difference between getting to the gym and not. If your schedule is too up-in-the-air to be structured (or if you can’t afford a trainer or a class, ask a friend to check in with you daily. (Did you get your workout in? Great!) I have a friend who posts a sweaty selfie every time she works out, thereby becoming accountable to the whole world! (Hi, Mama Niki!)
Re-prioritize. Sometimes other life things, like work or family, will get in the way of working out. If you have a big project due at work or your mom broke her leg and you have to do some extra caretaking, you might not be able to get in your workout. That’s okay. Sometimes working out just can’t be the most important thing. Keep in mind, however, that for your entire life, you’re only allotted one body. If you don’t maintain it, it will fall apart. So eat well, work out, and live to be 150 so that you can finally see the first woman become president of the United States. (Just kidding. I hope.)
Check back next week for some bodyweight exercises that you can do at home to minimize your excuses!
Looking for the accountability and expertise of a trainer, but need more flexibility in your schedule? Check out my distance coaching services!