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?