Hurdling exercise excuses

Choosing a lifestyle of exercise isn’t easy. It requires sacrifice, it requires planning, it requires determination. All of these things can be hard to muster up every single day, so what do you do when your motivation and determination wanes? How can you overcome the excuses that keep you sitting on the couch and in a slump?

You know the excuses: I don’t have time, I’m not prepared, I haven’t eaten yet, I’ve eaten too much, I’m feeling lazy. The list goes on and on.

In the moment it’s easy to give in to these excuses. The mind likes to settle at the easiest option. And so it does, and you miss that afternoon workout. Luckily for you, there are ways to surpass this excuse phase and get into the shape that you want.

The magic is in the time when you feel motivated, when you feel inspired. During this time you have the energy to plan and prepare your workouts, so much so that when it comes to those times when your mind wants to give in to an excuse, it no longer will.

When you feel determined and inspired, when you see the vision of yourself working out and being in shape, this is the time to set up cues for yourself that will later rekindle your inspiration.

Half the battle is taking the first step of preparing, mentally and physically. If you prepare the night before your body and mind will be ready the next day to get some exercise in, it will even expect it. It boils down to these two things…

Setting up cues and preparation.

Let me give you some examples:

#1: It’s 6am in the morning. Your alarm goes off. You’re tempted to press snooze, but then you see your tennis shoes deliberately placed right by your alarm. You remember the feeling you had last night when you felt inspired to workout. You decide not to press snooze. You look up further to see your workout clothes laid out, along with a water bottle. No going back now. You change into your workout clothes, take a swig of water, and head out for your morning jog.

#2: You’re at University or work. You have an incredibly packed day and you’re tempted to stay in the library or at your desk, eat a snack, and force yourself to be un-creatively productive. Then you look down at your bag. You see your workout clothes & a soccer ball. You remember wanting to go kick the soccer ball around at the local field and then lift weights at the gym. The smell of the grass on the field comes to mind and you decide that fresh air and exercise will make you more productive in the long run than sitting and halfway eating a snack/halfway doing work.

#3: You just got off of work, all you want to do is go home and relax. You’re tempted to get in your car or hop on the bus and spend the rest of the evening with your couch. But as you grab for the keys or bus pass you see a healthy snack, maybe some granola, or a fruit snack, right where your keys are. With it is a note that says, “remember your locker at the gym? You’re workout clothes are waiting for you.” Or, “that sunset will make for one awesome run.” From there you get to eat your snack as a reward and then hit the gym or the trails for some exercise.

Ok, so you’ve set up the cues & have overcome the excuses, now how do you stay motivated? The next step…

Healthy Rewards

Creating healthy rewards for yourself will keep you coming back for more. My three favorite healthy rewards are…

#1: Exercising with others. Whenever I plan a workout with fellow gym mates or friends I’m 10 times more likely to get excited and stick to my workout plan. In addition to making me more reliable, exercising with friends adds an element of fun and sociality that keeps me going. I find that I even push myself more and exercise at a higher intensity when I’m motivated by my friends.

#2 I also like to keep a workout log. Whether it’s in a daily planner showing when and where I exercised or in a separate exercise log, having the exercises written down allows to check it off when it’s complete, creating a sense of accomplishment. Research shows that when we check things off our to-do list we get a rush of dopamine to our brain! Give yourself not only endorphins, but also dopamine on your next workout.

#3 I love rewarding myself with an adventure! Whether that’s surfing, hiking, kayaking or finding a spot to set up a hammock in the forrest. I love exercising because it allows be to access the inaccessible, it allows my body to be in shape to the point where I can catch a big wave or climb up a mountain to see an epic sunset.

Last but not least…

Customize it to you

There are countless ways to set up cues and reward yourself for a job well job. You can get creative and find the cue that starts your engine and the motivation that keeps you going. Don’t forget to change it up and keep it interesting!

Preparing and setting up cues makes life a whole lot easier for you and also makes excuses less powerful. If you didn’t set your shoes by your alarm and your clothes on your desk, it would be far easier to keep lying in bed, on account that it’ll take more effort to get up, pick your clothes, and find your shoes. Prep and cues means excuses no longer work. So don’t forget, during the time when you’re feeling motivated, take advantage and help the future you make the best decision for your mind and body.

Neil Anderson PT
Neil Anderson PT

I’m a performance and mobility specialist, gaining my love for fitness as a competitive bodybuilder, personal trainer, and WBFF muscle model.

I’ve had the fortune to work with all kinds of people, from actors, to models, to everyday gym-goers, and with companies like Under Armour. It all started over 20 years ago when I began competing in the technical sport of pole-vaulting. This sport inspired me to spend endless hours researching training protocols to develop better strength, power, speed and condition.

As a result, I experienced a change in my physique that gave me a new level of confidence and helped me develop in other areas of my life. Consistent energy and the good feeling of wellbeing go a long way!