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The Top Excuses for Not Exercising, and How to Beat Them

As a personal trainer, I hear every excuse in the book from the hundreds of clients and customers I have worked with over the years. The truth is, it all comes down to your "why."

Why do you want to exercise and eat healthy? Maybe it is because you just had a baby and want to get your body back, or maybe you have a new job and all you do is sit at a desk all day, or maybe you are bored with your current workout routine and need a change. Or, maybe you are entering middle age and know that your metabolism is slowing down and you want to do anything in your power to reverse that cycle.

For me, I want to be around for my kids when they grow up to be adults as I had my kids later in life than most.

So, sit down and reflect on the reason (your "why") you are exercising, and you will find that you make up fewer and fewer excuses and that your exercise and eating healthy become your lifestyle instead of something you dread. Let's go over a few of the top excuses people have these days:

Excuse #1 — Too Busy

To improve your health, the American Heart Association says that two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activities (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) is all you need to squeeze in each week. Or, one hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).


To find pockets of unused time, keep a 24-hour log of one weekday and one weekend day. You'll quickly see pockets of time where you can add in some exercise. Try scheduling it into your PDA or datebook the same way you plan meetings or other commitments. If exercise is a priority to you, you will make time for it.

Make exercise a habit. It takes 21 days to develop a habit. Try working out five days per week for three weeks and see how you feel. I bet you will be craving your next workout and will have more energy for your day.

Excuse #2 — I’m Too Tired

Go to bed a half-hour early and get up early. For many, early mornings are the only time they have to workout. Working out in the early morning also allows you to get it done and not wait until after work when you may find yourself too tired from your long workday or something else comes up and eats up the time you allotted to get your workout in.

Excuse #3 — I Don't Want to Redo My Hair and Makeup

Here is a way you can take care of post-workout primping in five minutes flat with this regimen. Give your sweaty spots a once-over with an antibacterial wipe, and do the same on your face, with an all-in-one cleansing pad. Next, apply a beauty balm, which is similar to a tinted moisturizer. Touch up mascara and use a three-in-one color stick to add shimmer to eyes, cheeks and lips. Lastly, apply a little dry shampoo to the crown of your head to freshen up your hair, and that is it!

When I worked an office job in the Finance Department at Disney, I was also training for the Olympic Trials in the pole vault and had to squeeze in my training during my lunch hour because I had a little 3-year-old at home that I had to get ready for preschool, and the early mornings were too dark to workout at the track. So I slipped out of my career clothes and got into my running clothes, jetted over to the nearest track, blazed through my sprint workout and hurried back to work. I did my version of a sponge bath, sprayed some body spray on and I was good to go. I had a dream and a goal to make it to Atlanta in ‘96, and I wasn’t going to let the inconvenience of a job get in my way. Find your motivation!

Excuse #4 — My Kids Get in the Way

I know kids are usually not with you at work, but if you are trying to get some workouts in during the weekend to get in your 150 minutes of exercise per week, then one way to do it is to have them exercise with you by hiking, walking, biking or playing an outdoor game.

Excuse #5 — I Am Too Fat

As we age, it is typical that we gain weight. We tend to be less active and our metabolism slows down. Especially with a desk job, research has shown that people are less active than people who work part-time or do not work at all and tend to burn about 500 calories fewer per week. Forty-five percent of workers have gained weight since starting their current jobs, a recent CareerBuilder.com survey finds. Twelve percent have experienced a weight gain of more than 20 pounds, while 26 percent have gained more than 10 pounds.

Excuse #6 — I Am Thin Already

Even if you are in a healthy weight range, you may still may have too much body fat percentage — what I call “skinny-fat.” You might have a very fast metabolism, but what you are feeding your body is food that might be unhealthy and can contribute to diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. Everyone can benefit from exercise for their heart and muscles to help prevent falls and help them do everyday activities.

To summarize, learn the benefits of working out and eating clean not only for the benefits of looking your best, but for what it can do for your body from the inside out. If you make small changes every day, you will feel the difference and start to have more energy and vitality. Spend some time to really think about the reason you started an exercise routine and healthy eating in the first place — find your why. Maybe pin up a photo of yourself when you were at your best, or a photo of an idol and look at it every day.

The best time to workout if you have a 9 to 5 job is in the early morning. Go to bed a little early and wake up a little earlier to get that workout in. If you don't get your workout in during the early hours of the morning, you are taking a chance that you will be too tired or life will get in the way.

Good luck on your journey to better health and fitness.

Sue McDonald of McDonald Fitness hosts monthly Online Clean Eating and Fitness Accountability and Support Groups helping people reach their goals of better health and wellness. The next group starts April 28. Click here for more information. Click here to connect with her Facebook page for fitness and health tips, recipes and motivation!

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