The other day, there was a little chart in the paper that looked like this:
Since it’s getting closer and closer to beach season, when we all have to panic because our bodies aren’t “ready” to be seen in bathing suits, I thought we should have a little discussion about the reasons we have for not working out.
First, a couple of caveats:
- Every body is a beach body. Yes, even yours. Yes, right now, at this very moment. The idea that only certain body shapes and sizes are “ready” to be seen at the beach or swimming pool is a load of bunk. If only the “right” types of bodies were beach bodies, then beaches would be empty and the swimsuit industry would crumble! But seriously: Stop putting your life on hold because you think your body isn’t good enough. Like the beach? Love to swim? Then go there and do that.
- Not everyone has the inclination or ability to work out. And that is perfectly valid. Each of us gets to decide what fitness means to us. Maybe you just mastered a double under in CrossFit. Maybe your fibromyalgia is flaring up this week, and just getting out of bed is a triumph. Whether or not you can and choose to exercise is your own business. Messages from society, the media, the medical community – and even me! – are irrelevant. Do what you can, and what you want to, when you can. The end.
Okay! On to the reasons why we don’t work out. (Notice I did not say “excuses.” I think that word is loaded with negative connotations. It implies guilt and shame. We don’t need more of that in our lives – we need less. So “reasons” it is!)
Not Enough Time
This is a tricky one. We are busy people, aren’t we? We have obligations to work, family, friends. It’s a good idea, though, to also make sure we carve out some time for ourselves. Sometimes that means curling up with a book, or taking a few minutes to just sit quietly with a cup of coffee. When you do make time for yourself, exercise can be a part of it. While there are recommendations for how much exercise we should get every day and week, sometimes it’s just not realistic. But think of all the ways you can move your body that don’t involve the gym! Take a few minutes to go for a walk with the family after dinner. Keep a pair of hand weights next to the couch and use them while you’re watching TV at night. Another thing to keep in mind is that exercise doesn’t have to be formal. Running around with your kids in the backyard counts. Housework can build up a sweat. Shake and shimmy in the kitchen! And finally: If you can’t fit in any exercise today, give yourself a break. Do what you can, when you can, how you can. It’s your life, and you get to determine your priorities.
I Don’t Have the Energy
This is an interesting one. A lot of people (and this is definitely true for me) find that once they start working out regularly, they actually have more energy. If I can’t get to the gym for several days in a row, I am usually way more tired and lethargic. Sure, I may be whipped after an hour in the pool, but the next day I’m up and ready to face the day with lots of energy.
It Isn’t Fun
Then why are you doing it? If you hate the “dreadmill” or get bored lifting weights, then do something else! You may have to try a lot of different things before you find one that holds your interest. Thankfully, there are a ton of things you can try. If you can’t stand the thought of another day in the gym, try tennis or golf, see how far you can walk outside, throw a kettlebell, swim, square dance. Keep trying until you find something that is fun, and then do it.
I Get Bored
Switch it up! You don’t have to do the same thing every time you work out. Take a Zumba or spin class one day, and hop on the elliptical the next. Try a new DVD. Head in a different direction when you walk out your door. Not only will switching things up keep you from getting bored, it will also be beneficial to your body to challenge it with something new.
Embarrassed In Front Of Others
This is a big one, especially for (but not limited to) fat people. We are constantly told that we need to strive for thinness, but we are also frequently reminded that seeing our not-thin bodies upsets and annoys people. If you don’t have the spine to stand up to body bullies (and not many of us do, mostly because we have been schooled to believe that we deserve to be bullied because our bodies represent our moral failing), look for a safe space to get your sweat on. There are women-only gyms, and there are even fat-only gyms (I am not a fan of this idea, but they do exist). Hopefully your own living room is a safe space. You can also try doing what I do: Stick out your chin, hold your head up high, throw your shoulders back, and do your thing. Walk into the gym or onto that running path with an air that says, “I deserve to be here.” Because you do. Your body deserves respect and you have the right to take up space – wherever you choose to work out.
Okay, now it’s your turn. What is your biggest obstacle to working out? Share in the comments!