For years, I had such awful, stupid ideas about taking care of myself. For a long time my goals were in weight loss, and I was caught up in limiting ideas about dress sizes instead of considering health and wellness. As a teenager, I was bulimic and that began as a deliberate choice. Dumb. I remember sleeping in as late as possible so I would eat less, my own deluded version of the Valley of the Dolls sleep cure. Dumb. I remember trying all kinds of pills and bitter tasting things to drink in the hopes that my appetite would be reduced and I’d lose weight. Dumb. Notice that in the midst of that list of things I did to try to lose weight, I never ever mentioned exercise. Dumb.


I used to see diet and exercise as mutually exclusive weapons in the war against weight loss. Now I’ve evolved and I see things through a different lens. My goals now are fitness and strength, flexibility and capability. I don’t think of my goals in terms of a dress size or a specific number anymore. It is about my health and well being. I always tell people who ask, I just want to be able to run away if someone’s ever chasing me. I want to be able to climb multiple flights of stairs without feeling like I’m about to pass out. I want to face life’s unexpected obstacles, secure in the knowledge that I am able to.

I actually spoke about all of this at length in the Curls Teleseminar, ironically titled No Excuses – Beginning Your Fitness Journey. Since we’re talking about it here, let me tell you about the excuses I used to make, and sometimes still make. And at the end in the comments, I’d love you to tell me yours. Let’s get the excuses out of the way together. The toughest part of starting a fitness regimen, is STARTING a fitness regimen. So let’s get into what’s prevented me from success. Here are the excuses I made (and sometimes continue to make but am trying not to make anymore).

1 – I don’t have time. It’s true. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. What are we doing with them? Why do we waste so many of them on inconsequential things? Why are some of us incapable of using all of them wisely? I try to tell myself, if women as busy as Michelle Obama and Oprah can find time to get in a workout every day, so can I. All it takes is 30 dedicated minutes to complete my Couch to 5K workout. Popular workout FOCUS T25 is popular because it’s only 25 minutes long. The folks behind P90X came out with a 30 minute P90X3 DVD Workout for that very reason. Not into the DVD workout systems? There are all kinds of workout classes and regimens you can find online, in magazines and books, anywhere you care to look. We make time for the things that are important to us. Part of making exercise a part of your life and achieving your fitness goals, is making that time. Even if you hate it.

2 – I hate being at the gym with people watching me. This has held me back in so many ways. This false perception that people are looking at me. I’ve come to learn a few things. First of all, they probably aren’t looking at you. That’s your inner voice of self consciousness and doubt projecting. Second of all, if they are, so what? You’re there to do YOUR thing. And third of all, see the first point. Turn the music up louder in your headphones and get deeper into your zone. That nagging feeling of self consciousness will go away if you stay focused.

3 – My feet hurt. Yeah. I let that go on for over a decade. I have super flat, Fred Flintstone feet with no arch at all. Running HURTS. Excessive weight on my feet makes them hurt. I let the foot pain I endured from walking long distances or trying to run on a treadmill hold me all the way back until I finally sucked it up and got fitted for real, sturdy, made-for-the-task-at-hand athletic shoes at Fleet Feet, an amazing running and fitness chain of stores here in Chicago. My awesome friend Renisha of Renewed Fitness works there, and put me through some tests before determining the perfect sneakers, socks and insoles for my specific needs. I walked on a treadmill while a camera captured my stride, and through that I learned that I have excessive pronation and possible plantar fasciitis. Knowing that has made the world of difference for me when trying to exercise or even just trying to walk in general, and I wouldn’t know if I didn’t go to finally have my foot issues addressed. Next stop, finding a legitimate podiatrist (instead of the charlatans who tried to rip me off last time), and custom orthotics.

4 – I’m not good at **insert physical activity here.** Of course you know the best way to get better at doing something is to do it over and over again…but that’s not always going to get you up and at em and exercising. What worked for me? PAYING somebody. Because playing with my money is like playing with my emotions, as Big Worm said. I kept saying to myself, “self, we’re going to go to the gym. Tomorrow.” Until I finally decided to pay a personal trainer to work with me at the gym. Knowing that she is there, waiting, and I’ve paid for her time to be there and it wasn’t cheap gets me up and sweating. My trainer’s name is Jennifer Zea and she’s the founder of Phyzique Chicago. She does personal training as well as teaching classes I’m currently too intimidated to take (but likely will sometime in the future, I know you’re reading this Jen). Working out with Jen was the push I needed to realize my need for holistic fitness. Because of my regular workouts with her, I can now do things like lunges, squats, planks and burpees without feeling afraid, incapable or defeated. There are still MANY physical activities I am terrible at, but now at the ripe old age of 34, I realize that my skills at these activities directly correlates to my dedication in practicing them. You get out what you put in, etc etc.

5 – I don’t feel like it/I hate exercising. I know that’s a universal truth. Sure, there are folks out there who just LOVE working out and sweating and all that good stuff. Most of us don’t. And many of the folks who do feel that way, had to work damn hard to get there. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m lazy. I’ve been lazy my whole life. I’m the Laziest Gal in Town. But if I want to achieve my health and fitness goals, if I want to make sure that my family’s legacy of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes never befalls me, I need to put my laziness and hatred of exercise aside and just GET IT DONE ALREADY. Sometimes life and being a grown up, is about sucking it up, shutting up, doing things that you don’t like doing so you can get the results you need to get in the end. There’s no cute, pithy way to get around that.

So those are my 5 main excuses for not exercising. Even right now as I type this, I’m lacing up my sneakers to go and meet Jen for a workout session and thinking hard about excuse number 5. I’m still not in a space where I love exercising and make it the priority it needs to be. But I’m trying to get there. My journey continues.

What are your main exercise excuses?

For more fitness motivation, follow @CeCeOlisa and her #PSPFit movement on Twitter and YouTube. It’s refreshing to see women who look like you, working out and inspiring others!


Marcella says:
January 23, 2014, 10:16 pm
Hi Bella!! First of all I love your site and I'm so proud to be a caribbean girl like you - only still living in the Caribbean (Antigua to be exact). Anyway, I've been following your blog forever and this is the first time I have commented because I am in that place in my life where I need to throw away the excuses and get to it. This piece connected more than usual because it was like you were telling me "oh please gurrrrrl! get off your stories and "limiting beliefs" and get to it." Thanks for the encouragement and motivation, You're doing a fantastic job and I love how you are evolving. With love and sunshiny hugs!!
pets says:
January 24, 2014, 8:07 am
I hear you! I have not been as dedicated to keeping fit as I had been in my 20s. Thanks for making me face my excuses aka fears.
Ingrid says:
January 24, 2014, 10:34 am
My current excuse...I insert this excuse in the excuses rotation from time to time...."I just got my hair done..." No joke. I literally just got my hair done last Saturday and I haven't worked out all week because I don't want to waste my money. Yup. I use this excuse about once a month. I know better so I better start doing better! "No Mas!" We learned this quote in college...gotta make it my mantra again...Thank you for this post! Right on time! "Excuses are the tools of the weak and the incompetent. They build walls of nothingness and leads to roads of nowhere. Those who specialize in them, seldom excel in anything else."
Trina says:
January 24, 2014, 11:32 am
I think I've used all of those excuses at one point. in January 2012 I weighed in at 282...thought, well, might as well throw in this same resolution I have every year and try to lose weight. I am one of those people who would walk for 30 minutes and be like 'Whew!!! all that work, I've earned a cheese burger!" friend, a gym rat said for her, she had to stop thinking of food as a reward. "I'm not a dog. I give my dog a treat for rolling over." That made me think...I was the queen of going hard in a workout only to follow it with pizza. My excuses WERE -Too tired from work and other stuff -Didn't want to be seen at the gym -I am unable to lose weight as evidence from the failed diets -Can't keep weight off, so why try? -I can lose weight whenever I want so I'll put it off for later In 2012, I decided that there were no more excuses...figured out my main problem--binge eating-- and got rid of all of the food in my house that I would binge on. Basically kept things around that I liked, rather than loved. Then I had to deal with that whole working out thing...I work from 7 to 5. The LAST thing I wanted to do was workout. I had a gym membership, but didn't want to go there. At home, I had a 30 Day Shred DVD (since 2007) and put it to good use as well as my treadmill (had it since 2006) and Zumba 2 on wii. Started working out 2 hours every day after work. Lets fast forward 2 years. Binging is still a problem, but I recognize the urge. Working out after work is a habit. In the last two years, I've missed ONE day without physical activity and that was just this November when I had the stomach flu. I tried to skip the workout once and felt kind of bored by 6pm.. Some days, I get up at 3:30 and either hit the gym or do a 30 day shred/Zumba combo before work. And I proved to myself I could lose weight and actually keep it off. It's slow going now days because i don't burn as many calories...but 100lbs down and 60lbs to go.
BK says:
January 24, 2014, 11:47 am
Bella!!!!! I'm sooo happy you put this out there!!! So many of my clients suffered from the same issue!!! I'm happy you got properly fitted and now have the appropriate shoes.. I will continue to follow your journey and help to motivate you in anyway I can!!! but even as a professional fitness instructor.. I too have excuses.. I sometimes don't feel like teaching.. or I get upset because my class wasn't into it.. I had to take a look at myself and wonder.. WHY they weren't into it. a few tweaks of songs and I had my mojo back and my class was back to being awesome LOL My biggest excuse is that I'm exhausted from work (my 8-5).. but threw that excuse out the window when my son challenged me to do 15 mins of stretching every evening when I got home.. It was more to keep him accountable but also he didn't realize it help me stay accountable and active when I was getting over my Achilles injury. Keep keeping on sis..!
michelle coleman says:
January 24, 2014, 12:43 pm
I wholeheartedly agree: it's time to flush the excuses. Our bodies, minds and spirits require DAILY exercise. Just as we shouldn't refuse nutritious food, sleep, good hygiene and overall care -- we shouldn't refuse to exercise. Our need for exercise changes throughout our lives. My menopausal body needs regular strength training and yoga. I also need the endorphins exercise provides. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a nice long walk! I carry a packed gym bag everyday. Regular exercise keeps me young - it also keeps my weight stable, my waist trim, energized and positive. I want to go into old age feeling strong, good and capable.
michelle coleman says:
January 24, 2014, 12:44 pm
I wholeheartedly agree: it's time to flush the excuses. Our bodies, minds and spirits require DAILY exercise. Just as we shouldn't refuse nutritious food, sleep, good hygiene and overall care -- we shouldn't refuse to exercise. Our need for exercise changes throughout our lives. My menopausal body needs regular strength training and yoga. I also need the endorphins exercise provides. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a nice long walk! I carry a packed gym bag everyday. Regular exercise keeps me young - it also keeps my weight stable, my waist trim, me energized and positive. I want to go into old age feeling strong, good and capable.
Elle says:
January 24, 2014, 12:45 pm
I gave up all of my excuses once my Sugar (glucose) reading was 378 and my Blood Pressure was int he stroke range. Once you get yourself there, and start slowly the initial aches and pains go away, once you start seeing goals met even better! This was me 3 weeks ago labeled as "not that big" but at risk for heart attack and strokes! Ladies you can do it, start slow, and find something that is your pace weather it's swimming, walking in a park, or lifting weights.
Vivi says:
January 24, 2014, 12:57 pm
I had a whole rack of excuses but none of that eclipsed pretty much the #1 reason why I wasn't excersing before: laziness. Pure laziness. So, starting from last year I stopped with the excuses and laziness and started hitting the gym. I grew to enjoy exercising again (of course, a little eye candy here and there motivated me to keeping going there, too). Also, I pack a gym bag and leave it in my trunk that way I just head straight to the gym after work. That really really helped. Finally, I have a workout schedule based around the classes I take at the gym.
Rita says:
January 24, 2014, 4:27 pm
You are not alone! I've been a yo-yo exerciser for years. I got through period of time when I'm so hardcore and seeing results and actually enjoy exercise and something happens where I become complacent and just stop. What happens then is a complete 180 and I end up in worse shape then when I started. It's a terrible cycle. I'm currently at the end of the cycle and at the heaviest I've ever been. I do have a trainer who I've managed to ditch the last 7 weeks (I realize that's relatively a short amount of time but no exercising plus horrible eating habits and the holidays is all it takes to pack on the pounds) but reading this made me realize it's time to take responsibility for my actions. I have to be an adult and just get up and do it, again. We all need reminding of things like this and it's good to know I'm not alone in this struggle! Thank you! Rita <3
Marie Taylor says:
January 25, 2014, 7:37 am
Those excuse are dumb indeed! Exercising will bring us health and vitality so we should make every effort to do it for our own benefits.
SanTara says:
January 25, 2014, 11:40 am
I'm guilty of using the season as my reason for not exercising. "It's too cold" and "I don't want to drive in the snow" are my common wintertime phrases. I was doing well with some in home activities but that's been decreasing so I'm in search of a dance class to get me going.
Keshia says:
January 25, 2014, 4:45 pm
One of my excuses for not exercising was that I didn't enjoy it. I've since found a form of exercise that I enjoy. It's dance fitness at a dance fitness studio with a huge variety of classes. Finally, I've found exercise that I look forward to doing and with the class choices, I can't get bored with it!! I believe that's the key. Find the type of exercise that's fun for you and you'll be more likely to stick with it! Keshia
Nicole says:
January 28, 2014, 5:36 am
My main excuse is I don't feel like it....this was an awesome!!! definitely sharing it ;)
Erin says:
January 28, 2014, 10:01 am
I know these excuses very, very well. I made sure to change some of my eating habits, which gives me feel a little better about avoiding the very expensive gym membership I pay for. Somehow, I'm losing weight without doing much else but eating healthier. You've got this girl!
Carlos Solís says:
January 29, 2014, 1:46 pm
Mine is that exercise is incredibly painful and, no matter how long I keep struggling, the pain never diminishes or disappears. Until I find a muscular anesthesic or something like that I won't be able to endure a session.
Firece Kitty says:
January 29, 2014, 3:31 pm
I had to laugh at all these excuses because I've made them ALL myself in the past. I thought I was the only one that thought people at the gym were looking at me - LOL! But the dumbest excuse I've ever made for not going to the gym was - "not having a good book to read while on the treadmill" - no lie. I actually stayed away from the gym for months while I "searched" (or so I told mysefl) for good book to read. Good for you for accepting the truth about your own self-hindering behaviors - and deciding to do something about it. Love this site and wish for you (and your readers) tremendous blessings in 2014 :-)
Kathy says:
January 30, 2014, 9:28 am
I used to feel very self conscious at the chose running, but would run in the evening when it was darker (or in the rain) & less people would even notice.....this then led to me not actually caring as my confidence increased!....& my feet did use to hurt! but never gave in to that one.
Joe Curry says:
February 17, 2014, 12:16 pm
I love Fleet Feet and used to live across the street from the Elmhurst location. They helped me get into running and prepared me for my first half marathon. The hard part for me is establishing a routine. I leave the office late and am hungry so my excuse is that I shouldn't eat on an empty stomach. Solution: I'm packing Clif bars in my gym bag to eat on my drive home (well to the gym and then home). Mornings are always predictable and probably my most consistent way to get exercise. My excuse: Leaving my bed at 5:30am in -10 or -20 degrees is unpleasant--both because I like sleep and it's darn cold. Solution:I switched my training appointments to 6am -and- I'm working on going to bed earlier (like before midnight earlier). Hand in hand with exercise is my eating plan. I love to snack and I don't like to track. But, I'm writing everything down and making smart(er) choices and tradeoffs. Good luck!
click here says:
September 16, 2014, 9:26 am
The main with us, to say too tried to walk