Consider your possible excuses

By | November 27, 2017

I’m working on life bucket list items #18 and #19 — Operation something, something health and fitness. The goal is to make daily exercise into a routine, long-term habit that, eventually, I spend minimal mental energy on. Here are my notes from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg in case you skip my book review posts.

Your habits make up you. That’s the power of habit. After you choose who you want to be and make it instinctual, you become who you want…

There’s a lot of practical advice in here. Predict the obstacles you’ll face and plan for them. Imagine yourself overcoming them. Belief is the most important part. When something becomes habit, you don’t have to waste your precious willpower on it…

You’re not allowed to take pictures of the actual Sistine Chapel, so I took a picture of this sign.

It’s the story you tell yourself that matters. Picture yourself winning and then work toward that win. If the story is any good, it will have obstacles and climaxes. Of course you’re going to stumble at some point. When? How does the protagonist (you) overcome? Write the story. Do this in the beginning, so your mind is ready.

When I was working on my book, I wrote the article “Bucket List Item Complete: Write a Book” long before a book was actually done and ready for consumption. In that vein, I wrote an article entitled “Bucket List Item Complete! Get a Six-Pack (Abs).” It’s just a draft obviously and there’s a very real chance that I’ll never publish it, but it helps me think through to completion. What am I trying? What resolutions are easy to keep and which are tougher?

I also thought about what my life would look like over the next year and brainstormed any possible excuses I might make on bailing on my workout. Then, I came up with a pep talk and plan of action for kneeing those excuses in the groin. That was Charles’ advice I bolded above. He calls them inflection points. Here’s some of my brainstorming.

List of reasons I might possibly use to not work out as soon as I wake up

1. I’m dog sitting. I have to walk the dog.

Okay, walk the dog first. That’s exercise. Take the dog(s) for a very, very long walk. Do a Youtube videos as soon as you come back.

2. There’s no workout mat where I’m staying.

Google videos that don’t need a mat. Take a very, very long walk. Do this workout. Do some stretching outside. Google “standing yoga poses.” Cardio?

3. I have an early flight.

Do some stretching. Google “how to exercise at the airport.” Take a very, very long walk around the airport. Make an effort to do it later in the day.

4. I’m injured.

Google “workouts to do with [whatever] injury.” If your bottom half is fine, take a walk. A long walk.

5. I’m sick.

Bummer. Take a walk? Doesn’t fresh air and sunshine cure just about everything?

6. A major historical event happened while I was sleeping. I must read details!

The news articles will be there in forty minutes.

7. I’m staying with family or friends.

Ask them to do the workout with you!

8. I’m sad.

I promise you with 100% certainty that you will feel better if you get up and do this. Let your past self and past experiences talk louder than the sadness right now.

This list is longer, of course, but you get the idea. If you can’t tell, walking 10,000 steps every day is one of my easiest (and most fun) fitness resolutions to keep.

Everything always seems to come down to knowing yourself. What are your specific weak spots and how can you work around them? How do you make it easy for yourself? Picture success and then work toward that success. Make it a story. Every story has ups and downs. Plan for how you want your downs to end. I know I said that already, but that’s because that’s really all there is. Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

11 thoughts on “Consider your possible excuses

  1. David

    my Plan is 3 long girlfriend kissing sessions every week
    1) I forget about food 2) it does burn some calories 3) I tend to want workout more. Something else but I forgot…

  2. Daniel Clough

    Hi Anita,

    Try: 9. You don’t look forward to, or enjoy it.

    Sounds simple, but it’s really hard to form a fitness habit if you don’t deep down look forward to and want to do it.

    Try and find something you can really get into. Something you enjoy.

    For me, it’s crossfit. I love it. Getting up at 5 and being in the gym for 6 isn’t hard for me. I look forward to it the night before. When I wake, I still look forward to going and always enjoy the group of people I am with and what we do. It gets me out of bed and makes me push through the cold and dark to get there.

    Is there something that you enjoy doing? Hiking, running, biking, paddle boarding, netball, basketball – group activities, individual activities etc.

    Find what you like and it won’t feel like an uphill struggle.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      The ideal workout is the one you do!

      I agree with this completely. So far, I’m really excited about getting stronger and I think about my workout the night before in bed too. So far so good.

  3. steve poling

    First thing: are you serious about exercising each morning? Prove it by going to bed eight hours before your wake-up time. Like when you’re a kid. Set a bedtime. Then make sure wake time is early enough to account for all excuses listed.

    Then comes the Keystone Habit. Get a new/different alarm and set it for wake time. Next morning get up and before thinking about it put on your shoes and start walking/running. After exercise reward yourself as best you know how. Repeat every day for the rest of your life

  4. Accidental FIRE

    As another commenter mentioned, one of the big keys here is finding something you really like, no love, doing. For me it’s mostly cycling and running. You’ll want to do your workout and look forward to it when it’s something you love.

    Second for me is routine. I became monk-ish over the years about my workouts. Now, it’s to the point that I don’t even have to think about it. It’s like involuntary muscle movement. I WILL do my workout every day. The thought of it not happening is out of the question. To get to that point you have to be somewhat robotic. Many folks can’t stand that much strict routine in their lives, but I find it necessary.

  5. Anjani

    I don’t have excuses but when I get 30, prefer to sleep and exercise only over weekends….


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