Excuses for not exercising?

Thursday, August 17, 2017. Author Martin Cheifetz

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"I don’t have the time to exercise.  I don’t have the money.  I look fat and people at the gym will laugh at me.  I’m uncoordinated.  I have too many obligations.  I’m too tired.  My knee/elbow/shoulder/back/etc hurts. My wife/husband/kids/job/parents/etc put too many demands on me!"

Sound familiar?

Believe me, I get it and I’m going to give you some helpful practical tips on how to incorporate exercise into your daily life.  In doing this, I am unfortunately going to relieve you of most of your excuses, and I’m sorry, but you’ll have no choice but to start exercising more and start enjoying the resulting physical and mental health benefits.  Your family, your friends, your boss,  your co-workers and YOU will all be much happier.

I’ll give you a little insight into my life to put this article into perspective.  I’m 51 now and generally speaking, I’ve never felt better.  However 7 years ago, it was a different story.  At age 44, I felt myself starting to slide downhill quickly.  I had a “big job”.  I ran a business with 65 employees in 6 countries.  I traveled close to 50% of the time across multiple time zones and continents.  I worked a minimum of 60 hrs a week. I lived in a very expensive city.  I had an eye-watering mortgage and enormous bills to pay.  I had 3  kids who were 3, 5, and 7 yrs old.  My wife and I had no family infrastructure around to support us, so it was “full-on” at home.  And despite working for the largest health and fitness publishing company on the planet and having unlimited access to the best information, trainers, coaches, nutritionists, etc, I was drinking too much, not exercising enough, developing an unflattering dad-bod and just starting to feel old, creaky, and out of shape.  

Here’s what I did:

I made my mental and physical health my #1 priority.  Yes, I had a family and yes, I had dozens of employees and a big P&L to look after, and yes,  there were a lot of competing obligations and pressures to manage.  I needed to operate at full throttle all the time, and if I couldn’t, I was failing either my colleagues or my family.  So how could I possibly take the time to “indulge myself” in the “selfish pursuit” of exercise with all these demands on my time?

Rather than viewing my workout time as a luxury, I viewed it as a core responsibility integral to my success and happiness at home and the office.  As the sole breadwinner in the family, my requirement to stay fit and healthy and maintain my ability to perform at maximum output was paramount, and exercise became a facilitator of peak performance.  Exercise kept me sane.  It kept me focused and calm.  It kept me energetic and it kept me healthy.   

I made a point of carving out time early in the morning and adjusted the rest of my day accordingly.  I’d exercise at 6am at least 3, if not 5 days per week.  I worked out early and was mentally prepared, physically energized, ready to blitz it every day.  During the week, I could still be home by 8am to take the kids to school, or on the weekends when I could go for a long bike ride, I was still home by 10am to join up with whatever uber-organized, overly scheduled familial mayhem was ensuing.

Your possible excuses for not doing what I did:  

1.  I can’t get up that early:  Actually, you can.  Go to bed earlier. You can stop drinking alcohol too.  That’s a big help for improved sleep quality and weight management.  Exercising in the morning sets you up for the day.  If you’ve never tried it, you really should.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, both mentally and physically.

2.  I don’t like exercising in the morning.  See #1 above or consult your CLOCK gene report for your optimal training time.  There are 24 hours in a day.  You CAN find 45-60 minutes 3-5x per week.  Trust me...and I’m going to show you how if you keep reading.

3.  My job starts too early.  See 1 and 2 above or try a Runch... or... wait for it... exercise after work.  Whatever irritating things happened during your work day will disappear in your endorphin rush.

4.  I have a long commute. Can you ride your bike to work and shower at your workplace?  Can you bring your bike to work on the train (or in a co-workers car) and then ride home afterward? Can you take the train half-way and ride the other half? So many enlightened employers or even national governments offer bike-to-work benefits. It is really something to look into.

Get creative and find a way to squeeze it in:

On days/weeks where I couldn’t get a “real workout” because my hotel didn’t have a gym, or the weather was terrible, or I had "57 kid's activities in a 48hr weekend", I had to improvise.   

Possible excuses for not working out while traveling or during busy weekends:

1.  Your hotel gym sucks:  Been there. Buy a good set of resistance bands or tubes and take them on every trip.  They are an amazingly effective workout tool, they’re inexpensive, take up very little space, and weigh nothing.  If you don’t want to buy resistance bands, presumably your own body weight is coming along on your travels, so develop a routine incorporating push ups, assorted plank variations, bodyweight squats and lunges, do one legged balance work,  use the hotel room bed, desk or chair to elevate your feet or hands to change the angles, and intensities.  

Our Get Fit System has a whole range of bodyweight routines that are genetically tailored just for you, so give that a try.  I have stayed in some pretty poor hotels over the years and apart from those capsule/pod rooms in Japan, every hotel room has enough floor space for you to do push-ups, planks, lunges and squats and you can do them in your underwear at any time of the day or night. It makes no difference what you look like or what you're wearing, so no excuses, please.

2.  Too many family obligations: I hear you.  You need to get from Point A to Point B with your kids, right?  Get one of those jogging buggies, stick Jr inside and run him to his face painting party.  Don’t like running?  Neither do I.  You can still walk him to the party pushing the buggy and get a bit of resistance training or better yet, get one of those baby backpack contraptions, stick Jr in the back and walk to the party.  Your kid gets a great view from up high and you get a killer core and leg workout.  I used one of those baby backpack carriers with all 3 of my kids and a) they all loved it and b) it’s a great full body workout.  

None of that sound appealing? Don’t worry because I’ve still got you covered.  Rather than walking,  you drove to Jr’s face painting party and now you have 45 minutes to kill before the next obligation starts flashing on your phone, right?  What do you do with those 45 minutes?  

No, you don’t chit-chat with all the other parents about whatever school/diaper rash/my kid is so fabulous repetitive brain-numbing drivel happens to be on their agenda.  

No, you don’t get a cappuccino and a piece of carrot cake at a local cafe and fiddle with your phone.

You go for a walk or a run...or even just go back into the car and take a nap.  Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap either.  Chances are, not only do you need more exercise, you probably need to sleep more too.  

If you’re lucky, and your over-scheduled weekend obligations all follow the same pattern, i.e. at 10am you need to be here and at noon you need to be there and at 2pm you need to be wherever..I am extraordinarily confident that somewhere along the way, there is a park or a trail (where you can go for a walk/run, do a bodyweight workout, stretch, use the playground jungle gym for pull ups, muscle-ups, etc) or there is a gym (where you can get a full or casual membership or a day pass to use on weekends) or a Crossfit box, a swimming pool, a big set of stairs or a big hill that you can walk up and down a few times and get your heart and legs pumping. Stairs, hills, parks, and trails are all FREE and require no special equipment, so no excuses, please.  

If you are motivated, there is a way that you can shoehorn some exercise in all of those blocks of downtime...even if it’s only 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there, you can grab an hour’s worth of activity instead of doing 2 sets of yapping about Jr’s test scores and chicken pox while super-setting carrot cake and cappuccinos.

While none of my suggestions above are a replacement for a proper genetically tailored workout and nutrition program, they are certainly a step in the right direction to get you moving towards a healthy, active lifestyle.

I will continue this blog post next week and give you a few more of my tactics for exercising anywhere, exercising around your injuries, and incorporating more exercise into your everyday life, regardless of your budget or location.  Part 2 now live

Any questions?   Feel free to get in touch with me directly at martin.cheifetz@fitnessgenes.com or at https://twitter.com/martincheifetz

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