I talk about my run streak a lot, especially on my personal social media. Which means when I see people in real life, the topic of my running comes up in just about every conversation. I love to hear stories about how others have been inspired to start running again or to begin a workout routine. I love to hear stories of people making healthier choices in their lives and choosing to prioritize themselves and their overall wellness. These things inspire me, encourage me, and motivate me to keep going.
However, at times when people talk about my running they say, “I love reading about your running. It’s so inspiring to me. I wish I could do that too, but…” and then they start listing off their excuses for not exercising. And inside I start to feel a little crazy. I smile and nod on the outside, but on the inside my brain is remembering all the times I ran while sick and feverish. On the inside, my brain is remembering those times I ran when I only had a few hours of sleep the night before. On the inside, my brain is remembering the times I ran when I had 1,000 other things to do.
Unless you are paralyzed from the neck down, your excuses for not exercising or not making healthier choices are invalid. I’m not saying that everyone can (or even should) run a mile a day every single day as I have done. That is ridiculous. That is my goal and my choice that works for my current life situation, desires, and abilities. It is most certainly not something that everyone can do and many people shouldn’t even attempt it.
I have a strong understanding that many people are physically unable to run. It is one of the things that inspires me to run more, because I recognize what a precious gift it is to have the ability to run. Please understand that I am fully aware that there are real limitations that keep people from being able to exercise in the ways they would like.
However, everyone can do something. You can workout, but you are choosing not to. You can eat healthier, but you have chosen not to. It’s not about being too busy or too tired or too injured or too old or too anything. Whatever excuse you have told yourself for not being able to do whatever it is that you want to do is entirely false.
What you have instead is a choice. It’s a matter of prioritization and importance. You don’t workout simply because there are other things in your life that you have chosen to be more important to you. And that is completely okay. It is your life and you get to decide how you want to live it, no judgment from me. If working out and making healthy choices is not a priority for you at this stage of life, admit it and move on. Live your life and do the things that are a priority to you. Feel free to encourage others in their pursuits, but don’t make excuses for not following in their footsteps when that’s not the life you’ve chosen to live.
But what if you really do want to workout and make healthier choices? You want it to be a priority in your life, but you have all these reasons standing in your way. It’s just too hard for you in this season of your life. You have small children that don’t sleep well making you feel constantly exhausted. Your work schedule is insanely busy and there are simply not enough hours in the day. You have an injury or illness that makes it harder for you to workout the way you would like. You don’t have the freedom and flexibility to leave the house to go to the gym or go out for a run because you need to stay home with your children. You have a loved one who is sick or injured and needs your near constant care and attention.
Trust me. I get it. I have experienced all of the reasons above and more. There are limits to our time and our energy and our abilities. Life is all about choices, trade offs, and finding a balance between all of our responsibilities and priorities. If you really are inspired and you really want to make exercise more of a priority, here are 5 tips to help you stop making excuses for not exercising and just get started.
1. Make the choice.
The first step is to make the choice. You won’t immediately have a solution for all of the reasons you can’t workout. It will take some time to work through all of the challenges you face to find a solution that fits your current season of life. However, the one thing you can do right now is to stop making excuses, stop coming up with more and more reasons why you can’t, and simply make the choice that you will. If you want to workout more, decide that you will, tell yourself this is a priority for you, and then get busy.
2. Start small.
Stop listing out all of the reasons that you can’t and start taking action. You’re too tired to put on your shoes and go for a run around the block? Stand up and walk briskly around your house for one minute, no shoes required. See? You’ve already taken the first step.
Your day is packed with meetings and deadlines and more work than you can possibly get done? Start off on the right foot and take 30 seconds to do some jumping jacks before you get in the shower. I promise those 30 seconds will not throw off your entire day.
It doesn’t matter how small of a step you take, just start taking a step. Once you’ve made the choice to workout more often, the only thing you can do at that point is to start working out more often, no matter how small or insignificant it feels at first. The first step is always the hardest, but also the most important.
3. Look for more opportunities.
Here is where your priorities really begin to come into play. You’ve made the decision to make exercise a priority in your life, which usually means something else has to fall lower on the priority list. It’s up to you to decide what falls and what that looks like. Maybe you spend less time scrolling through social media. Maybe you say “no” to that next volunteer opportunity that someone tries to recruit you for. Maybe you decide that your health is more important than a spotlessly clean house.
As you go through your day, consider each thing you are doing and think about where it falls (or should fall) on your list of priorities. I’m not saying you have to completely cut something out of your life, but maybe you do for this season. Or maybe you just spend less time on one thing so you can spend a few more minutes working out. Keep your eyes peeled throughout your day for times when you can squeeze in a little more exercise. It might just become a really fun game of using your creativity to figure out what you can do, where, and when to move you closer toward your goal.
4. Stop being a victim and making excuses for not exercising.
You’ve made the choice to workout more, you’ve taken the first step and started squeezing in small amounts of exercise into your day. Now is when you truly let it sink in that you are in control of your life and your priorities. You get to decide what is important to you and what you make that look like in your life. You quit focusing on reasons you can’t, realize that you already are, and begin to look for ways that you can do more.
When we focus on all the reasons we can’t do something we become victims of our own circumstances. You are not a victim of your life. Own your life, live the life you truly want to live, and start overcoming obstacles instead of focusing on problems. Don’t tell me all the reasons you can’t, just start doing and see how much you can.
5. Expand your small moments into routines.
Now that you’ve tried a variety of different exercises squeezed into all the nooks and crannies that you can find in each day, take some time to figure out what works best for you.
What kinds of exercises do you enjoy the most? What kinds of exercises make you feel the best afterward? Both questions are important. There are plenty of people who don’t enjoy running while they are running, but really love the feeling they experience after a run. Pay attention to these cues to notice what works best for your body.
Once you know what exercises work best for your body and you’ve examined your priorities and schedule to adjust things to have more time, the next thing to do is to create goals and routines to keep you going.
This is where my run streak started. I had already discovered I enjoyed running (at least once I was done). I already knew I could always find 10 minutes a day to run (although many days it would be incredibly hard). So I set a goal to run at least one mile every single day and committed myself to it. I adjusted my daily routines to make sure there was always a spot on my calendar for my daily run. And then I just started running.
When I first set the goal I didn’t actually think I could do it. In fact, I was sure I would fail in the first two weeks. But I made the decision to try and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. And now over 400 days later those feet are still moving right along.
You are the only person who can make changes in your life. You are the only person who is truly able to take care of you. This life is the only life you get. If you want to live a healthier, more energetic, and more active life there is absolutely nothing standing in your way. Make the choice today and start taking action today. That is the only way you will ever reach your goals.
Today’s action step:
Make the choice to prioritize your health, starting today, and then get up and do something active for at least 30 seconds. Post in the comments to share with us what you did. I’d love to celebrate your baby steps with you.
(This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure here.)
I loved this post from Run Eat Repeat on How I Make Myself Run.
I track all of my workouts on the MapMyFitness app. It integrates well with several other apps and keeps everything in one easily trackable place. You can also find your friends who use the app to cheer them on as well.
One of the easiest ways to motivate yourself to become more active is to use a wearable activity tracker. I personally have a Fitbit Flex and love it. It’s fairly affordable, offers the chance to join challenges with your friends, and track your activity, sleep, water intake, and more.
I have an Instagram account specifically focused on my daily workouts. Follow along for some extra motivation.