Excuse me?

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Here’s a selective list of things we’ve done in the past instead of working out:

  • slept in
  • watched another episode of The Biggest Loser
  • read three days’ worth of backlog on our Twitter feed
  • vowed to do twice as much cardio tomorrow
  • finished work
  • had dinner with friends
  • hit Target for some “essentials”
  • looked up what our friends’ friends were doing on Facebook
  • stared at the walls

And here’s a selective list of things we’ve eaten in the past instead of a clean meal:

  • cake
  • a milkshake
  • a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme (or three)
  • macaroni and cheese
  • one jelly, one chocolate sprinkle and one glazed old-fashioned donut
  • orange chicken with steamed rice
  • a pizza (Yes, a whole one. And not a tiny little personal pizza, either.)
  • nachos
  • cheese fries
  • pad Thai
  • a slice of cheesecake
  • another slice of cheesecake

On every single one of those occasions, we had a compelling reason why there was no possible way we could get to the gym or stomach another chicken breast that day. 

If you’re anything like us (and if you’re human, we’ll assume you are), battling the excuses your brain invents comes with the fitness territory. Hopefully, like us, you’re successful in bludgeoning your brain into submission most of the time. But on those days when, for whatever reason, temptation is strong, page through this list of excuses and use our experts’ advice to prevail.

Excuses That Women Make

We’re all for equality of the sexes, but in certain realms, men and women are just flat-out different. Sure, some of these excuses afflict men, too, but these are the most common things that trainers Jan Love, an ACE-certified trainer with a master’s degree in spiritual psychology, and Anja Garcia, RN, an AFAA-certified instructor and DailyBurn.com trainer, hear from the women they work with.

Women

Your Excuse

Your Rethink

Your Action

Eating a big cheat meal will help me get over today’s stress.

“Bad nutrition choices will stress you more and undermine all your hard work,” Love says. “Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect; just strive for good.”

Keep portions of “reward” foods small and only include them a couple of times a week.

I’m too tired to work out after a long day at work.

“Work out in the morning!” Garcia says. “The best time to work out is when you can.”

Get up 30 minutes earlier and exercise before you shower and go to work. “You’ll be more alert during the day, and you’ll sleep better at night,” Garcia says.

I don’t have time to go to the gym.

“News flash! You don’t have to go to the gym to get a great workout,” Garcia says. “Regardless of how much time you have, you can exercise at home or on the road.”

Walk to the grocery store and carry home what you purchase. When traveling, take the hotel stairs several times throughout the day. Got a dog? Walk her. Often.

I don’t have enough time to work out.

“I can put together a routine you can do in 10 minutes at home, and you’ll get really good results,” Love says.

Try one-minute sets of jump rope alternating with walking lunges. Perform five sets of each. That’s 10 minutes.

That movement is too hard.

“I can make it easier for you,” Love says. “Almost every exercise can be modified so that it’s easier. Then you’ll be able to do more, and you’ll get better results.”

For example, instead of floor push-ups from your knees, perform wall push-ups. You can do these for many more reps, getting a better workout overall. Consider consulting a trainer at your gym for scaling ideas for other exercises.

I get too sweaty from cardio.

“Fact: Sweating is a byproduct of working out,” Garcia says. “This, I cannot change.”

A towel sops that up. “And look on the bright side: Sweating releases toxins, and it means you’re burning calories and getting sexy,” Garcia adds.

I don’t have the discipline to follow a strict diet.

“You don’t need a strict diet,” Love says. “You want a reasonable nutrition program that includes moderate quantities of foods that you like.”

Love suggests dividing your daily diet into 80 percent healthy low-calorie foods and 20 percent foods you enjoy.

Women

Your Excuse

Your Rethink

Your Action

I don’t want to get muscular and blocky from weight training.

“Ladies, please hear me: Physiologically, you do not have the building blocks to bulk up from weight training unless you are supplementing with testosterone,” Garcia says.

 Work out with weights. “Muscle takes up less space than fat, making you smaller and allowing your clothes to fit better. Win-win!” Garcia says.

That food doesn’t work for me.

“OK, then let’s find a substitute that serves that food’s purpose,” Love says. “People are very attached to preconceived ideas about nutrition that aren’t necessarily true.”

As an example, if you don’t eat meat or dairy, you can still get plenty of protein from vegetable sources like beans, quinoa or tofu. You can even include soy or pea protein shakes in your diet.

It’s hard to get started.

“It is hard to get started!” Garcia acknowledges.

First, remember that it’s much, much easier to keep going once you’ve gotten over the hump of starting. To get there, consider hiring a trainer for a month or work out with a friend or try a program like DailyBurn.com, where you can find community support.

EXCUSES THAT MEN MAKE

Here’s a shock: Men tend to be guiltier of overreach, while women tend to err on the side of caution. Guess what? Both these “strategies” ultimately lead to failure. We asked Robert S. Ciresi Jr., an ISSA-certified personal trainer and an advocate of lifelong healthy lifestyles, to tell us the most common excuses that his male clients use and how he helps these guys reframe their thinking and implement a better plan.

Men

Your Excuse

Your Rethink

Your Action

I stick with the training program that has worked best for me.

“Your body needs new stimuli and challenges in order to grow,” Ciresi says. Sticking to one routine will not encourage the kind of growth that a fresh routine will.

Embrace the new. Set up alternating six-week cycles for endurance, strength and power. Or change up your exercises, sets and reps schemes after a couple of weeks. 

I eat a ton of protein, but I still don’t get bigger. 

“Protein won’t make you bigger if you’re not getting in enough total calories,” Ciresi explains. “You have to consume plenty of calories — at least 20 per pound of bodyweight each day — to add quality mass.”

Make sure you include carbs and dietary fats in your diet. Emphasize slow-digesting carbs like brown rice, oatmeal and yams and dietary fats, including those in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, healthy oils and avocadoes.

I train hard every day, but I’m still not growing.

“More is not always better. If you’re already pounding your body with intense workouts several times a week, you’re tearing down muscle mass as fast as you build it,” Ciresi says.

Ciresi recommends documenting your gains. Keep a training log. If you aren’t progressing with the workload you’re currently doing, then change it. And include a rest day or two every week.

Men

Your Excuse

Your Rethink

Your Action

I left my lunch at home.

“This is not a free pass to eat what you want,” Ciresi says. “It’s an opportunity to see how creative you can be when you’re unprepared.”

This happens to the best of us. Skip the restaurants’ tempting offerings and stop by the grocery store to pick up raw vegetables or a prepackaged salad, a protein shake, cottage cheese and/or lean lunch meat.

I just do what feels right.

“Nothing wrong with this philosophy if you aren’t trying to achieve a specific goal and you’re happy with your results,” Ciresi says. However, complacency will eventually set in, so it’s a good idea to set goals. 

“Go after that triathlon you’ve been wanting to compete in. Work toward a personal-best 1RM squat or bench press,” Ciresi says. Anything to break away from the same old routine. Challenge yourself! 

I’m never going to be able to achieve my strength or muscle-mass goal.

“Everyone feels the same way, so you’re in good company,” Ciresi says. Don’t measure yourself against other people. Do what you can do and commit to getting better.

Right now, just compete against your former self. Practice good form and try to lift as much as you can. Follow sensible training plans for strength and mass building.

My busy schedule stops me from being a beast in the gym. 

“Only elite athletes have the luxury of devoting their lives to their training,” Ciresi says. But you can achieve great results with short, intense training sessions.

“Commit to training three times a week for 45-minute sessions,” Ciresi suggests. Working out at home eliminates drive time. Get up early and combine moves that reduce rest time to get the most from every minute.

I have an injury, so I have to avoid a lot of exercises. 

“As long as you have some range of motion, the injured area can get stronger,” Ciresi says. He emphasizes using strict form and lighter weights, which may help alleviate pain caused by the injury.

A professional — a doctor, physical therapist or qualified trainer — should address recovery from injury. The bottom line: If it’s already weak, it will continue to be weak until you strengthen it properly.

Sometimes I don’t have the discipline to stop myself from cheating.

“Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect all the time,” Ciresi says. Learn how to cheat so that it helps your goals instead of hindering them.

“Try to make good choices. Load up on protein and fat so you won’t feel so hungry,” Ciresi says. If you eat lots of carbs, then scale back for the next day or two.