No Time to Exercise?

One of the most common excuses for not working out that you will hear in any gym around the country is, “I don’t have time to exercise.”  I know I hear it constantly, and I’m sure that I’m not the only personal trainer who does!  Here are a few tips and items to consider when making the excuse that you don’t have time for exercise.

1.  You really don’t have time to exercise.  Hardly anyone does.  Few people in this fast-paced country have huge pockets of time all carved out, ready and waiting for their personal fitness.  Most people work as least forty hours a week plus their commute time.  Other people (namely, moms) are chasing toddlers all day long and can’t just take a “lunch break” and work out.  Then there are social obligations, family commitments, etc.  When does a person find time?

2.  You really do have time to exercise.  What?  Didn’t I just become the first personal trainer in the history of trainers to let you off the hook by telling you that you didn’t have time?  Yes…and no.  While you don’t have time readily available, you can have time if you want it.  You just have to make time.  I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true.  Few people have time available at their beck and call to fit in a workout.  For the rest of us, we make that time.  So how in the world do we do that?

3.  Here we are back to the P5 Principle: “Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”  (I think in my post regarding this subject, I used the word  Proper instead of Prior, but it should be Prior and makes more sense that way anyway.)  Just in the past few weeks, I was really losing motivation for my own workouts.  While this probably means that I need to register for a race, a sure-fire motivation for me any time (death by half-marathon does not sound pleasant!), I decided instead to put my workouts on my calendar.  I’m a bit of a calendar fanatic.  (My sister always teased me about how perfectly color coded it was, even as a kid!  Then again, when you have three jobs with an occasional fourth one thrown in for good measure, you have to be a calendar fanatic!)  At any rate, usually I have my workouts, voice, and piano practicing on my calendar, and sure enough, once I took a break from that, guess what didn’t get done?  Back on the calendar those workouts went, and wouldn’t you know they got done, I’m feeling great, and ready to hit it hard this week?

I’ve been training one client in particular since July.  We meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:30 a.m.  We work hard for an hour, then she jets home to shower and change, grab a quick (and also healthy!) breakfast, and dash out the door for the LightRail.  Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she does a 5:45 a.m. spin class with an occasional Saturday workout thrown in for good measure.  She is gone about eleven hours a day once you include her commute time.  Plus, she’s planning her wedding.  I’m about 100% confident that sleeping in an extra hour in the morning sounds like heaven to her, but she’s decided that 5:30 a.m. is when she makes time for exercise.

4.  Learn to love mornings.  I will always be a big believer in early morning workouts.  I honestly believe that you will get more workouts in if you do them in the morning.  Why?  Because nobody is calling you at 5:30 a.m.  No extra projects for work are being thrown on your desk.  No commitments have come up unannounced that early in the day, and unless you’re nursing a baby, none of your family members are probably asking for your attention either!  While I know some people work out better later in the day (men in particular due to higher levels of testosterone), I do believe that if you are on a particularly tight schedule, morning is your best time to work out.

My early morning client will tell you to just stick with it for a few weeks.  Eventually you’ll get so tired that you’ll want to go to bed earlier.  Thus, you’ll be ready to get up when that alarm buzzes so early.  Your body will adjust!

5.  Get Creative.  So what do you do when you really do have commitments and obligations from the crack of dawn until bedtime?  This is when it’s time to get creative!  Fit in exercise here and there, wherever you can!  Only have a ten minute lunch?  Hit the stairwell, going up and down as many times as you can in that time frame.  Sitting all day at work?  Do twenty body weight squats every few hours.  Take phone calls standing up, park farther away in the parking lot, and choose to always take the stairs that day.  Got another ten minutes between work and your first obligation after work?  Do some crunches, planks, push-ups, and lunges!  Body weight exercises that you can do anywhere will save you on days like these.  Perhaps most importantly, they’ll keep your mind in “fitness mode” so that you don’t end up throwing the whole week aside and saying, “I’ll get back on track next week.”  We all know how that goes…

6.  Lastly, think about the benefits.  There are plenty of days when I don’t feel like going for a run and lifting weights or doing yoga first thing in the morning.  Sometimes I’d just like to sit and drink my coffee and read the paper instead!  However, it usually only takes a few seconds of thinking about how terrible I’ll feel the rest of the day if I don’t work out that gets me out the door.  I know I feel motivated, confident, alert, and energized after my workouts, hungry for my breakfast, and ready for the day’s challenges when I finish.  I know I’ll make healthier eating choices that day as well (why would I want to throw away that hard work by eating junk food?).

Not only will it help my day-to-day living, but I know I’m helping my body long-term.  I read this quote today, and found it tremendously inspiring.  Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby said: “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”  Wow!  I definitely don’t want to slow down for illness!  I can’t even stand getting a cold!

So there you have it–my advice for those days when you’re tempted to claim you don’t have time for exercise.  You really can do it!  It’s just a matter of training your mind to believe that, too.  Don’t worry, your body will follow!

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