‘But I don’t have the time to exercise’. How often do we use this as an excuse to avoid having to do something we don’t actually want to do? Perhaps it would be better to ask ourselves “Do I really want to do this?” The answer to that question determines everything that follows.
For example, if we decide we need to exercise because the doctor or our spouse has told us to but we don’t really want to do it, then the likelihood of it actually happening is rather slim. Of course a desire to exercise may start from somewhere outside ourselves but it needs to end up as something we want from within if we are ever going to take action.
Many of us begin our day with good intentions and then the busyness of our lives interferes and we put things off until it’s too late to do anything other than fall in to bed. I can’t tell you how many times I have planned to go for a nice long walk after dinner or do a spot of yoga before I went to bed. I can tell you how many times I have actually managed to do those things, how about never? There always seems to be something that needs my attention around the house, with the family, or dare I say it, on the television. I know for myself that planning to exercise in the afternoon is a waste of time because it will never happen. So what do I do about it?
Exercise avoidance solution #1.
I am not a fitness expert, but I know what works for me. For me, the best time to exercise is in the morning. I get up before anyone else in the house is awake, take the dog for a nice long walk, fit in a bit of skipping and then spend 15 minutes doing some yoga. This is certainly easier to do in the summer than in the winter but once I am in the habit of it, it’s not so much of a trial. I actually enjoy this time alone. I use it to relax, to think, to plan my day. By making this exercise one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning, before the family is awake, before my attention is distracted by any number of other things, I can find very few excuses to avoid it.
Exercise avoidance solution #2.
Another thing I do to ensure that I can get straight out of bed and off to my morning exercise is to get everything ready the night before. All I have to do then is get up, throw on my exercise clothes and step out the door. I’m not wasting time looking for my water bottle or that other sock and finding excuses not to go while I am at it.
Exercise avoidance solution #3.
It’s important for me that my morning exercise doesn’t feel like a chore or become monotonous so I slightly change the things that I do as time goes on. It could be as simple as walking in a different direction or listening to music on one day, a podcast the next and enjoying the silence on the third. I leave it up to how I feel in the morning and just go with whatever suits the mood I am in on that day.
Exercise avoidance solution #4.
Probably one of the hardest things to overcome is my desire to press the snooze button on the alarm when it goes off in the morning. If that is something you struggle with, try moving the alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Once you are out of bed you actually have to make a conscious decision to get back in and that can make all the difference between getting dressed and going back to sleep.
So the first thing we have to do is decide that we actually want to do something. We then need to do whatever we can to systematise our actions so that we are essentially on autopilot and can’t talk ourselves out of doing it.
So the next time you hear yourself saying or thinking “I have no time to exercise!”, stop and think about whether this is really the case or if it is just a convenient excuse. If you are using it as an excuse, what are you planning to do about that?