We all have great exercise excuses for not working out that day, but no matter how good that excuse is, you still didn’t do it! What it really means is that you’re not any closer to your goal, no matter how good you think that excuse is.
Even after someone has made the decision to get in shape and has started to make incredible changes, like drastic nutritional improvements and exercising more frequently, excuses creep up that keep you from making the next right choice for yourself.
One of the techniques that I have used with some clients to combat excuses is what I call the 30/30, and it has been very successful. 30 minutes of cardio, for 30 straight days. Simple but not easy.
In doing this my clients face exercise challenges that arise and learn how to combat them. But just as important, they learn to trust themselves to follow through with what they say they are going to do.
This story was co-written with Jane and chronicles her challenge of completing the 30/30 and overcoming exercise excuses.
It Started With the No Excuses 30/30 Challenge
After about two weeks of personal training with me three times per week, I challenged one of my clients to do 30 minutes of cardio for 30 days in a row. No matter what got in her way, no matter what challenges came up, Jane was to get in 30 minutes of cardio for 30 days. She accepted the challenge.
Day 8 – Tested – No Excuses Made
Eight days into her 30 days, I told her snowboarding didn’t count—which at first, seemed like a punishment to her. It was the dead of winter and since she wasn’t in that great of shape…yet, the idea of riding for a day and then somehow doing cardio afterward seemed extreme. Likewise, getting up thirty minutes early to run before she went snowboarding seemed unreasonable, as well. But, when it came time to go snowboarding, she hit the gym before she went.
Day 16 – Tested Again – She Made No Excuses
About 16 days into her 30 days, she came down with a cold. So, she took long walks until she recovered.
So far she had overcome
- Snowboarding and cardio ✔
- A cold and cardio ✔
- Some cocktails with friends and woke up hung over, but she still hit the treadmill. Hung over and cardio ✔
She was beginning to see that nothing could get in her way!
Of course it took planning
- Go for a run before work or after?
- If she should hit it before training with me or after?
She had to set herself up for success—figuring out specific times in her week that allowed her to achieve this goal.
Day 24 – A Big Day for Excuses
At day 24, she had to attend a funeral. Obviously, this isn’t something she could plan for. The funeral was in another city and the hotel she was staying in didn’t have a gym.
Winter was in full bloom, so the roads were covered in ice, making running outside dangerous. The day of the funeral, she had to drive five hours and leave at 5 AM to make the ceremony.
After arriving, she headed to the funeral grounds, which was supposed to require a thirty minute hike. Perfect, she told herself. I will get my cardio in that way. The hike ended up being twenty minutes. The funeral lasted six hours.
Failure and Excuses
Afterward, she was so exhausted that she immediately fell asleep and awoke after the temperature had dropped well-below zero. She conceded to not doing thirty minutes of cardio that day. I tried, she thought, but the cards were stacked against me.
Jane left early the next day, got her cardio in when she arrived home and didn’t feel bad about her failure the day before. She knew I would understand.
When I saw her the following Monday, I asked her how she was doing and how the funeral was. She told me about what she had been through and without missing a beat, admitted that she had missed a day of cardio because of it.
What? You Don’t Understand?
Jane seemed utterly surprised by my response. I told her she had failed to meet her goal of 30 minutes of cardio in 30 days, because our goals aren’t flexible.
I couldn’t give her a pass on this, because she can’t give herself a pass either. The point is, she is learning to trust herself. She said she would do something and she didn’t.
It’s not easy to gain your own trust
Nobody ever said it would be easy. Learning to trust yourself to do everything you say you will do is a huge part of the battle and the struggle.
In the past, she said she would work out, she said she would lose weight, she said she would get to it, and she didn’t.
If she gave herself a pass because of a funeral, then giving herself a pass when other things became emotionally trying in her life like
- Fighting with a spouse or family member
- Losing her job,
- Fertility Problems
- Any other Medical Condition
Or having positive important things on her plate such as a
They could all easily start to count as days off or excuses not to stick to her plan. If holidays, bad days, important days and vacations start to count as days off, you can easily see how she’d slip back into poor habits.
Soon, she’d be telling herself, it’s Monday and I don’t like to work out on Mondays. Then, where would she end up?
Standing up for her goals
Was I being hard on her? Yes. But, it doesn’t mean I didn’t sympathize with her pain or the challenge she faced. More importantly, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t on her side.
I was being her biggest advocate, because I wanted her to take care of herself when she most needed to take care of herself. I was the one standing up for her when she wasn’t standing up for herself.
Jane then challenged herself to the 30/30 and blew right past it! She went well beyond the 30 days and didn’t stop until she hit 30 minutes of cardio for 47 consecutive days.
She learned she could trust herself and now knew she could do whatever she set her mind to doing! What a freeing thought right? Just imagine it. Now make it happen!
See Jane’s Results – HOW I WAS BEFORE, HOW I AM NOW, I’M BEYOND ECSTATIC*
No excuses no matter what
We can all tell ourselves a million excuses, reasons, explanations or matters of fact about why we don’t meet our goals. We can convince ourselves in an infinite number of ways that we are justified in our excuses.
There’s always something, right? Just because it’s hard, maybe the hardest thing you’ve ever been through, doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. But, it has to start with you.
You have to be the one that makes it the most important thing.
Exercise Excuses run the gamut
It can be something as small as not wanting to mess your hair up. “Sorry, I’m washing my hair,” is that joke we all laugh about; the excuse for not doing something, especially a date. But, it’s an exercise excuse that women, mostly, actually use not to work out.
The surgeon general even put out a warning about it in 2011 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/surgeon-general-calls-for-health-over-hair/?_r=0. But, nobody seems to be laughing.
It’s a ridiculous excuse in every other situation, but in terms of one’s health, it’s become an actual problem. How could we let hair stand in our way of happiness? Excuses can be big, too, like Jane’s was. But, they are all excuses.
They all boil down to the same thing: failure to get closer to your goal.
You make time for so many other things so why not exercise?
Think about all of the things you make time for. Think about all of the things that you believe are the most important things
- Loved ones
Think about all of the ways in which you excuse yourself from tending to your own needs to make time for these other things.
When you take care of yourself you can better help others
One thing that people find truly illuminating when they start to take care of themselves is that they start to be able to take care of other people better.
That might mean not showing up as much for someone who has become dependent on you. That might mean forcing people around you to solve their problems instead of expecting you to do it.
You’ll be surprised as you make more room for yourself, health and wellness, how much more time you will have for the other things you find important and at how much more valuable that time becomes, because you’re happy.
You will make more of your time when you’re happy more of the time.
That idea might not make any sense to you at the moment. At the moment, you might be struggling to understand how you’ll juggle everything and feeling a bit cranky about it. That’s okay. Once you’ve decided to change your entire life, in ways that are completely unimaginable to you at the moment, you will overcome exercise excuses and reap all the benefits that come with it.