Using excuses to not work out

In the last couple of weeks, while preparing to do sports, reasons for not to doing it came to my mind. I mean, the decision was made, I was wearing workout clothes and the sports mattress laid on the floor, so there was no way of talking myself out of it.

But there I was, thinking of reasons why I could stop and do something else. “I have a lot of work to do”, “It’s too late and maybe it will affect my sleep”, “My mobility today is not great”, “I am sad”, “I wish I were reading”, “It’s too cold in this room”, “I am not sure how to start it”, “I have nothing to listen to while working out”, “I washed my hair yesterday”, “I will go out to walk later”, “I don’t like working out with this T-shirt”, “It’s too cold outside” or the favourite “I am not in the mood”.

While I was thinking about these reasons I realised how easy it could be for me to right then and there decide to do something else. There is always a reason why not to do it. It’s hard and it can be unpleasant. It’s painful and sweaty and tiresome. There is always something else more pleasant that could be done instead. So why not quit and do something you actually want to do?

Well, maybe because we know that we want to do the hard thing. There is a decision making process that takes place way before we start working out. So we already know that we want to do it. Sure, maybe we have some doubts right before we start doing it, but we know that the hard activity is good for us. So why not just start, work through it and feel happy at its end because we pushed through?

Why my brain comes up with all the reasons to stop and do something else I don’t know. I suspect it’s because of the fact that it is a habit. Thankfully, doing sports is also a habit and so these thoughts aren’t strong enough for me to act on them and stop. Anymore, at least.

Maybe it has something to do with feeling motivated. Yes, overall I know why it’s important to me to workout. But I am not motivated every time I do it. There are days when I completely lack motivation. When I sit on the floor and think what’s the easiest way out.

It became much easier to ignore my reasons to not work out after I had some realisations:

  • (a) working out is good for me, as it makes me happy long term and it keeps me sane on a daily basis;
  • (b) working out is a matter of life long practice, not something I do until I reach a goal and then I quit;
  • (c) working out is something I want to constantly do, ideally every day.

I value this, it’s important to me, so I am investing time, effort and money into it [how else can I prove to myself something is important to me if I don’t direct resources toward it?].

Taking these realisations into consideration, it was easy to make a deal with myself. It’s 30 minutes of what my body can do that day, some cardio, some abs, some legs and/or some core. I listen to one of the four podcasts I am in the mood for and if nothing is appealing, I turn the music on. On rest days, which are basically all the days when I am not working out, I am taking at least a 30 minutes walk.

I start by warming up and then I do a circuit of six to eight movements, each performed 16 times. If I want to, I can do more. I can also do less, as after 20 minutes I can stop and get back to whatever is next on my to do list of the day.

It also helps that I decided I am allowed to work out during working hours. As I sit on my desks for a few hours in the morning, I start to feel the need to move so I take a break to work out. Afterwords I come back at my desk and resume work. I feel energised and ready for another task. In this way, it feels that the time spent moving is something good I do for both my work and my body.

Even though there are rules, I am also flexible in terms of what I do and when I do it. I can’t workout every day. There are days when I am not feeling well, when there’s too much work which needs to get done, when I feel too tired or when working out is not one of the priorities of the day. But I know that I need to take a long walk and so I do. If that isn’t possible, as there are days like this as well, I will simply do something about it the next day. I try my best to never let three days in a row pass without me doing some form of working out.

It’s alright to make whatever arrangements are good for you. To me, sports is one of the most important activities I do in a day. It’s a non-negotiable. I stopped a long time ago wondering whether or not to do it. To me the answer is clear. It’s a matter of when is the best time during the day and what can my body do then.

My main motivation is that I want to be healthy. It’s incredible how the line between being healthy or sick is so fluid. If we can all agree on something, that something is that it’s better to be healthy. And nobody else, assuming you’re an adult, is responsible for your health but yourself. It’s our own decisions that can make the difference in your life.

It’s not easy to know what is the best for you, that is why reading and seeking professional help is so important. I am also learning and I wouldn’t dare to give advice on how or what to do. I know that moving our bodies is crucial for health so I do recommend it. But each one of us knows best where to start and what can the body do.

If you are interested in moving your body more and don’t seem to be able to be constant about it, there is something which can be done: start small from where you are, use what you have and keep up with it. It’s something that builds over time. Like friendship and education.

Make today count.

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