You made a resolution to get fit. Here’s how to keep it—without letting excuses derail your progress.
From “too busy” to “too tired,” the excuses that come between you and a fitter you are endless. Teetering on the should-you-or-shouldn’t-you-go-to-the-gym brink, it’s so easy to give in to fatigue fog and opt for anything else—a drink with friends, a reality show marathon—over a heart-pumping jog on the treadmill, a muscle-toning weightlifting session, or a stretchy, sweaty yoga class, all of which would actually make you feel better.
The good news is that you’re not alone in having to dig deep and stand up to workout excuses. Fitness professionals face them, too. Here are their solutions to the top get-fit challenges.
I don’t feel like working out.
Show up and see what happens.
“There are times when I get to the gym and I’m just not feeling it,” says Sadie Chanlett-Avery, a yoga teacher and personal trainer based in Oakland, California. “That’s when I’ll start with something more mellow, like foam-rolling or floor stretching—it usually gets me energized for a workout.” Like any endeavor, large or small, showing up is the first step. Once you’re at the gym or the park, you’re more likely to get moving.
I’m too busy.
Funny, there are so many other things you make time for!
Celebrity trainer Tarik Tyler has heard every excuse, and this one has to be the one he loathes the most. ”People find time to do things that are completely irrelevant to their lives, but they can’t find half an hour to better themselves? If that’s the case, then they need to watch less TV or put their phones down.”
If I could lose some fat, I might be more motivated.
Do cardio in the morning, before breakfast.
Want to rev up your body’s fat-burning potential? Timing is everything when it comes to training—especially cardio. Performance coach Kyle Morgan, M.S. (he works with tennis pro John Isner and other competitive athletes) offers this simple tip: “I always do my cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. That’s when your blood sugar is at its lowest, and the body has to break down stored fat for energy.”
I’m bored with my workouts.
Get inspired—by your own peak performance.
Tarik takes a reflective approach when it comes to fitness ennui. “When I’m in a fitness rut, I think about my past accomplishments—what I’ve done fitness-wise. I connect with the spirit and mindset of when I did something I was proud of or when I achieved a personal best. That usually lights a fire under my workouts.” Remember your fastest mile or the shape you were in when you were playing a sport you love? Think about that for inspiration the next time you work out.
The gym routine has become a grind.
A change may do you good.
To break through a plateau, Kyle advises getting out of the gym altogether. “Take a week off and try a new activity or sport. This way you stay active while challenging new muscle groups and learning new skills.” Your fitness detour could be as simple as cycling outdoors or taking a dance class, or as adventurous as going rock climbing or kayaking.
I love working out, but I’m seriously pressed for time.
Shorten your workouts, but up the intensity.
There are many ways to accomplish this. Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), where you intersperse all-out sprints of running or cycling with rest intervals. A bodyweight circuit can be done almost anywhere: start by running in place with high knees, then do pull-ups, push-ups, forearm planks and squat jacks, all performed sequentially with two minutes rest between circuits. If you’re really short on time, do supersets or giant sets—pick two or three exercises and see how many sets you can perform in the time allotted. For best results, talk to a trainer before attempting any of these training methods to make sure you do them safely. Each one can be modified for any fitness level.
I haven’t been eating well. Why bother working out?
Start moving and you’ll most likely eat better, too.
When you exercise regularly, you’d be surprised what happens: your body starts to want healthier foods. You’ll notice the difference when you eat breakfast rather than skip it, or when you have a healthy lunch versus grabbing a quick snack—you’ll have more energy for your workouts. The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, encourage moderation over any sort of extreme diet: “It’s so important for active people to realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect diet. Aim to eat foods that you enjoy and make them healthful most of the time, but allow room for small indulgences.” Their mantra: eat more vegetables—they’ll go down easier knowing that a little chocolate is part of your weekly meal plan, too.
I need help getting started—and sticking with it.
Try these expert ideas.
What the Pros Say: Secret Weapons for Getting Fitter, Faster
Yoga Teacher & Personal Trainer
“Kettlebells liberated me from cardio machines. They have made me stronger, leaner and more flexible. I can now toss my carry-on bag into the overhead bin of a plane like it’s a Nerf ball.”
Kyle Morgan, M.S.
New York, NY
“My favorites are multi-planar exercises with multiple movements, such as the dumbbell squat to curl to rotational shoulder press. By doing multiple movements, you’re stressing numerous muscle groups as well as working your core and challenging your balance.”
Los Angeles, CA
“Squat thrusts or burpees are by far one of the best exercises. Do them with dumbbells and you’ll really feel it—you’ll work cardio, strength and core all at once. I’ve also been using lateral resistance bands with my clients and seeing great results.”
“HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training] is my secret weapon for sure. I hate cardio, so I do this to get the most bang for my buck!”
Stephanie Clarke, RD
Willow Jarosh, RD
New York, NY
“Make eating breakfast a daily habit—even on weekends. It’s a single habit change that will deliver results from both an energy perspective (you’ll notice an increase in AM energy pretty quickly and lasting energy throughout the day), and a healthy weight perspective. Not only does it jumpstart your metabolism, but it can help make it easier to choose healthier foods for the rest of the day.”
The Nutrition Twins
Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT
New York, NY
“The more vegetables, the merrier! They’re loaded with antioxidants, they help fill you up so you don’t overeat, they help keep you hydrated—and all these things help you feel more energetic.”
Fun Fitness Fact: Exercise is good for your brain.
Aerobic exercise, that is. All that movement creates a dramatic change in blood flow, and the brain gets flooded with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its best. What this means for you: possible improvements in memory, problem solving and decision-making. Time to smash that myth of the dumb jock to smithereens.
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