It’s so easy to talk yourself out of exercise, particularly when you’ve had a bit of a break from fitness and you’re trying to get back into shape.
We’re all guilty of making the following classic excuses, but here are my tips on how to overcome that voice in your head telling you not to bother.
1. I’ll start on Monday
After a long spell of not exercising properly because of illness, I kept telling myself that I’d start afresh next Monday. That Monday never showed up, and the only way I found to get started again was just to go out and do it. Don’t wait for the next week, or tomorrow; there’s no time like the present.
2. I won’t be able to do what I used to
I used to be a world record holder in procrastination and I get it, there are so many doubts in your head that it’s hard to ignore them sometimes. What if I’m the most unfit person there, what if my injury flares up again, what if I feel dreadful? I used to easily talk myself into something only to then go full circle and back out of it again.
It’s time to kick fear to the kerb. Grab a post-it note and write ‘Go exercise, what is the worst that can happen?’ Place it on your bedside table so that you look at it every morning when you wake up.
Often the fear of the unknown prevents us from taking action. If you need to, write out all the worst things that can happen, then rip them up. Start by taking the first step – go for a brisk walk, book into a Digme class and tell the instructor your fear or sign up with a friendly local running club. Anything! Just take the first step.
Quick tip: If you’re going to a class, go into the back row. No one will notice if your first class back is tough!
3. I don’t have time
“I work long hours”, “I have a new baby”, “I’m running around after the kids” – yes, these are time-consuming things in life, but there’s always a spare 20 minutes in the day, and it’s about putting time aside.
Are you a morning exerciser or night owl? Doing some exercise in the morning not only gives you less time to change your mind, but that buzz you get from doing it stays with you for the rest of the day. Try laying out your clothes the night before so you’re ready to go.
If you’re more of an evening person, put it in the diary like any other appointment and do something on your way home from work. If you go home first, the sofa and a glass of wine will often be too tempting, particularly in the winter.
4. The same workouts get boring
So mix it up! One of my favourite books is The One Thing by Gary W Keller and Jay Papasan. Commit to doing some form of exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be gut-busting and could be as simple as:
Monday: Spin class
Tuesday: 30-minute walk
Wednesday: 7-minute workout app
Thursday: Spin class
Friday: Walk and stretch
Saturday: Kick a football in the park with the kids
Sunday: Cycle in the park.
You can change these to suit you but it gives you an idea of how to get started straight away.
5. Nothing’s happening quickly enough, so what’s the point?
If you set huge targets, you’ve got to make sure you set smaller goals that you can track as you go. Make your objectives SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Here are some examples:
Specific – Lose a stone, complete a triathlon, run a 5k, come top of the Digme leaderboard.
Measurable – Set a date to aim for to achieve the main goal and line up mini objectives you can tick off along the way.
Achievable – Don’t set the bar too high, particularly if you’re coming back from an extended break. Aiming to complete an Ironman six months after major knee surgery might be too much, but a sprint distance triathlon would probably be realistic.
Relevant – Is your fitness goal relevant to YOU? If you hate running, running is not for you. Pick a goal you will enjoy achieving.
Timely – Set a time limit but don’t make it so strict that the journey becomes hellish. Ask the fitness pros for advice and come up with a timescale that works for you.
So there you go, no excuses not to get out there. And always remember that feeling afterwards when you’re buzzing from the endorphins!