Tuesday, March 20, 2012

13 Excuses You'll Never Hear Super-Fit Chicks Make

1. I Just Don’t Want To Work Out!
If your basic problem is that you just don't want to/don't see the need to exercise, you need a major wake up call. We all need to work out regularly if we want to live longer, better-quality lives. I have friends and clients who just refuse to exercise, and so I have to give them a little tough love. As a last resort I'll tell people about the health risks of not exercising and ask them whether they want to be independent, or dependent on others when they're older. It's an eye opener.

While this may sound harsh, a shock to your system can be just what you need to get motivated. The only reason people change is because they've touched pain. This pain can be anything from seeing an older family member struggle with his health, to getting fed up with being out of breath after a flight of stairs. Embrace that, remember it, and figure out what you want to do differently.

If you haven't had your "moment of pain" yet, here are a few stats from the Get America Fit Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that may serve as your wake up call:
• Obesity is the No. 2 cause of preventable death in the United States.
• Being overweight or obese increases your risk for breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, hypertension, and strokes.
• People who are severely obese (with a Body Mass Index of 45 or more) live about 20 years less than people who are not overweight.

2. I’m Already Skinny, What’s The Point?
Getting thin isn't the only (or even the best) reason to exercise. Whether you need to lose weight or not, you should approach your workout with a clear goal in mind. This could be anything from looking better in your skinny jeans to finishing a 5K.

Before you even start a workout program, you need to ask yourself a few questions: 1. What is my goal? 2. What do I need to do to get there? 3. How do I want to experience this journey? And of course, there are a few things to keep in mind with each of these questions:

For the first one, your goal should be about approaching success instead of avoiding failure. It's really all in how you phrase it. So instead of making your goal "I don't want to be the fatty in Pilates class anymore," a better goal would be "I want to be able to make it through a Pilates class and still have energy for a quick run after." A positive goal gives your mind a clearer path to follow and gives you a higher likelihood of success.

When it comes to the "hows" of achieving your goal, there are plenty of resources available to help you map out a journey. "You can always go to a website to get a program customized for you. There are tracking mechanisms built in … each day you'll be able to see your overall performance and it will let you know if you're staying on track or not.

And as for how you'll experience your workout journey, it's important to realize that it won't be all sunshine and rainbows. Change is met with resistance internally, so you need to be honest and allow yourself to experience some frustration and anger.

3. Exercise Is Boring
Yes, mindlessly running on a treadmill while watching the news on your gym's TV can be a total snooze fest. But dancing in a Zumba class, rock climbing, and paddle boarding are the exact opposite of dull -- and they still count as exercise.

The trick is to continually search for workouts that are fun so you actually enjoy exercising. Aside from trying new classes at the gym, browse YouTube a lot to see what new stuff folks are trying out; it's interesting to see what some people do with little to no equipment.

But even if you do stick with your regular routine, you can create a fun environment to motivate yourself to get through even the most mundane routine. Lighting, amazing music of all genres, and humor can help you push through a workout.

Another way to keep exercise from getting old is to add in the element of competition. Anything we do repeatedly (like lifting weights or 30 minutes on the elliptical) becomes easier, and that's when our brain starts to resent the exercise. When an exercise isn't fun anymore, the brain needs surprises, risk, and danger. Competitive sports can give you that risk and danger.

4. I Suck At Sports
If the thought of joining your company's softball team sounds like less fun than an all-day root canal, that's OK. Your workout should play to your strengths.

Research shows that we are much more motivated, resourceful, and resilient in an area of strength than in an area of weakness. Like taking charge? Lead a morning group run in your neighborhood. Does kindness drive you? Train for a cause, or buddy up with someone else who also needs motivation.

How do you know when you've found the right workout? The right exercise should be relaxing, get you in a hyper-aware state from endorphins, get your mind wandering, make you feel good, vital, and youthful, and leave you sore, but a good sore.

5. I Never See Results From Exercise
The best way to combat this frustrating feeling is to set yourself up for a "quick win." By starting off strong -- with a super-healthy diet and perhaps some boot camp-like fitness classes -- you could lose three to five pounds in your first week, which should certainly get you excited to continue.

And when you hit those inevitable plateaus, there are a few ways to keep yourself going. Try visualization while you're working out. I want my clients to 'see' a healthy and strong body. I want them to 'see' themselves crossing the finish line as we're spinning on the bike. Visualization training is incredibly helpful. Focusing on your goal is a much better way to push yourself during a workout than focusing on how fatigued you feel or the fact that the scale hasn't moved in a week.

6. I Want To Have Fun -- Not Be A Super Health-Nut Freak
Get excited, because it turns out cheating on your diet can actually help your workout. I recommend my clients have a weekly cheat meal (where you can eat whatever you want). Not only does this give you something to look forward to each week, but a cheat meal releases the hormone leptin, which tells the body you're not starving. The result? It can actually boost your metabolism and make you lose more weight over the next week. Just don't hop on the scale after that pizza: You may initially go up in pounds from water weight and salt retention, but by the end of the week you'll be lower.

7. I’m Too Sore
If you're feeling too sore to move the day after a workout and can't even begin to attempt another minute of exercise, it's time to rethink your strategy. Sometimes it's beneficial to end a workout a little prematurely. It enables me to end on a high note while I still feel very energetic, it enhances my post-workout glow, and it truly makes me look forward to my next session.

This method is an especially great idea when you're just starting out. People start giving 100 percent and then they burn out quickly. You're better off starting slowly with something like strength training or a yoga class if you're not used to exercising. Then build up your stamina and try more challenging workouts.

8. I Have An Old Back/Foot/Leg Injury That I Don’t Want To Aggravate
While this excuse will get you out of some workouts, there are plenty of exercise methods that can actually help heal old injuries and ease body pain, which in turn can motivate you to work out even more.

If you have back, hip, or leg pain, Pilates can help strengthen your core and improve your range of motion. If you fix little nagging injuries, you can get better workouts and enhance your performance.

I recommend starting with stretching, interval training, and resistance training if you're overweight. Extra weight can often mess up your alignment and cause injuries if you start running or doing hard-core aerobics.

9. I’m So Frustrated With My Progress
Frustration is totally normal when you're working toward a fitness goal. The key, however, is to understand how to work through it. First, we need to realize that frustration is a secondary emotion; it's actually a reaction to hurt or fear. So ask yourself what you're afraid of. You may be fearful of some outcome, like 'All the work I'm doing is not going to pay off' or 'I'm not going to get where I want to be.' When you know what's really bothering you, you can address that and make adjustments in your fitness plan to work through it.

I also want to point out the frustration isn't actually bad. Frustration is where growth takes place. Most people are trying on a regular basis to be comfortable, but that's not where true learning and growth happens. When you're frustrated, know that you're on the edge of the comfort/uncomfortable zone.

When you do get in that zone, it's a good idea to stop, take a deep breath, and have a conversation with yourself. Remember that you're doing something great for you. It's also helpful to visualize yourself feeling strong and excited and motivated -- even when you're actually feeling the exact opposite. Just by doing this you are planting those seeds in your brain and making it more likely that you will continue.

10. Exercise Is Overrated!
C'mon, you know this isn't true. But you may feel like it is if you don't really understand what you're doing. I teach clients why they're doing the exercises, why they need to eat a certain way, so they understand what they're doing. When you don't know why you're doing something, you'll fall off the wagon at the first sign of a setback.

To help you understand why the heck you're doing all those lunges, ask your trainer (if you have one) what the benefits of each exercise are. Or if you're going at it alone, check out fitness websites and magazines for more information on the benefits of exercise, both in terms of overall health and weight loss. It's a lot easier to trade an Oreo for a run if you fully understand what each does for your body.

11. I’m Too Tired/Hungry To Work Out
This one has some genuine validity. After all, your brain cannot be starving and have an effective workout. State of mind dictates everything about physical performance. That's why proper nutrition and getting enough sleep is so important. Think of your brain as having a gas tank; just like your car, it can't run on empty.

So yes, sometimes you may have to skip a workout so you can catch a few extra zzz's or whip up a healthy meal. But don't use lack of sleep as a consistent excuse. Instead, make it a priority to get a full night's rest so you can perform at your best. And in a circle of life kind of way, keep in mind that exercising during the day can actually help you sleep at night. So even if you don't feel like jogging 10 miles, do a small amount of exercise, get a better night's sleep, and be ready to tackle more tomorrow.

12. My Life’s Depressing Stressful Enough. I’m Not Adding Exercise To It
If you're dealing with a job you hate, a stressful home life, or any major or even minor life crises, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do. But really, it should be the first. Exercise boosts endorphins and allows you to handle stress better (both by releasing stress during the actual workout and building up your stamina to deal with life in general). If you can't get out of your slump, here are two tactics to try:

First, re-work your thought process. Instead of saying, "I must work out," say, "I choose to work out." ‘Choose’ statements are healthier for your brain, and those ‘must’ statements keep you from reaching a workout-induced euphoria.

Next, practice gratitude. In a study where one group was told to keep track of things they were grateful for and another group was told to keep track of their hassles, the gratitude group was found to exercise about 90 minutes more per week than the hassle group. It makes sense when you think about it: Mulling over the raise you didn't get or how far away the gym is isn't exactly going to motivate you to get up off the couch.

13. I’m Too Busy With My Kids
Kids can certainly be exhausting, but there are ways to use them to your workout advantage. I remind my mom clients of a few things: 1. Regular exercise can boost your immune system, which is helpful when you're surrounded by germy kids. 2. Parents can set a great example for their kids by living an active life (most overweight and obese children have parents in the same situation). 3. You can exercise with your kids, which helps keep them active, keeps you in shape, and is a fantastic bonding experience.

So instead of plopping the kids in front of a DVD while you run on the treadmill (or, OK, take a nap), put your iPod on and have a living room dance party or head outside and play. Just seeing nature can be an easy motivator to get moving, and doing activities that made you happy as a kid can help too.

Remember, strong is the new skinny!!!

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