The 2 most common reasons that people give me for not exercising on a regular basis are (1) I just don't have time and (2) I'm lazy. Now mind you that the majority of people that I am working with are smart and successful employees within a variety of high performing organizations. They are anything but lazy AND they are able to squeeze in an incredible amount of professional and personal tasks and activities into one day.
If you exercise on a regular basis...kudos to you! But if you don't, I can almost guarantee with 100% certainty that neither laziness nor lack of time is the REAL reason that you don't exercise. Really.
Let’s explore the laziness hypothesis. Now you may in fact feel tired or without enough energy to go and exercise, but that is not the same thing as being lazy. Generally, people muster up the energy to go and do the things that they enjoy or feel responsibility or accountability for (getting kids to school and activities, work meetings, appointments, etc.). Many people do not really enjoy exercise and they certainly aren't accountable for it (meaning your pay or bonus doesn't depend on it, the health and safety of your children are not at risk if you don't go, and no one really notices that you didn't do it). This lack of pleasure and absence of fear combination generally does not provide the foundation for the motivation necessary to exercise on a regular basis. In other words, you don’t exercise because you don’t really want to or have to.
Now we’ll examine the time-deprived theory. I am going to begin by acknowledging that people really cling to this ‘I don’t have time’ notion pretty hard and will make the argument for it like a defense lawyer in a high-profile criminal case! We are all pretty busy and there is a human tendency to fill every waking hour with something. This gives us the sensation that we can’t squeeze anything else into the day, especially a one-hour exercise session! Here is what I ask someone ...if I am able to get a one-hour meeting cancelled for you tomorrow...will you then use that hour to go exercise? The person laughs and understands that ‘time’ is not the issue. I argue that if we added a 25th hour to the day, you would NOT use it to exercise. You would use it to fill it with more of the same ‘crap’ you are already doing! The word ‘crap’ really gets their attention because you start to realize how much in our day is non-value add activity. Then, when people learn (and experience) that they can get a darn good workout in just 15 minutes, they watch their case fall apart. After all they spend at least 15 minutes in Facebook, on Candy Crush, on Pinterest, or doing something that will not get you all of the health and performance benefits of exercise.
If you are still reading this up to this point it is either because you realize that there is some truth in what I am saying or you are so upset with me that you are reading until the end so that you can give me a piece of your mind in the comments! Either way, I will offer a few thoughts on how you can in fact prioritize exercise in a time-deprived day and increase your motivation to do it.
1. Set a realistic allotment of time or goal for exercise each day that could easily be achieved (even 5 minutes or 10 pushups is a start!) and stick to it. Once you have done it for a while, see what happens.
2. Find a way to combine exercise with something else that is enjoyable (do it with a friend/family, listen to music you love, make it your time alone to think, take a dance class, while watching television, etc.)
3. Write down how exercising will help you to be better for someone you really care about (more energetic mom, more patient son, role model for my kids, better care-taker for my aging father, etc.)
4. Do exercises while doing other things you have to do (squats while I cook or condition my hair, lunges on a work call, butt clenches while I type emails, calf raises while I brush my teeth...you get the idea)
5. Set up some accountability. How will you hold yourself responsible for following through? Do punishments work for you? (Take social media away each day you don’t exercise). Do rewards work for you? (Treat yourself to a massage if you stick with it for 2 weeks). Can someone else hold you accountable?
Remember that whether we exercise or not...it is a choice we make in the context of everything else we have going on in our lives. You are NOT lazy. You CAN make time for it. Make the choice that aligns with who you are, what you value, and how you want to live this life!