Why do people make excuses? 6 Mental Barriers to Fitness
Despite the overwhelming evidence that exercise is crucial in keeping our body and mind healthy and free from diseases, only 24.2% of adults worldwide meet the guideline for aerobic and strengthening activities set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So why is it so challenging to stick to a regular exercise and fitness routine that not only could prevent life-threatening diseases but also enhance the aesthetic appeal and overall sense of well-being?
There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but most people would agree that they struggle with "excuses."
Whether it's the lack of time, insufficient energy, unfavorable weather conditions, or an overbearing workload, we've all been guilty of making excuses to skip out on our workouts.
This article will dive deep into why people make excuses about their fitness and health and how you can overcome the 6 common excuses that create mental barriers to fitness.
Excuses allow you to protect yourself from being judged when you fail to meet the expectation of others or even your own. It is a convenient escape when we underperform and shift the focus to things beyond our control.
People make excuses because it is easy and painless– the exact opposite of progress. It feels far less distressing to attribute our lack of progress to external factors such as weather, sudden bed sickness, work overload, or unfinished report rather than pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone.
However, excuses eliminate personal accountability and take away your sense of control over your circumstances. When you see yourself as someone who lacks control, you automatically give up your power to change things. When this happens, you essentially become a bystander in your own life.
There are many barriers to fitness and achieving your health goals. However, mental barriers are the most difficult to overcome. They can be hard to overcome and often breed excuses.
In fitness, excuses kill our progress. The more we allow excuses to rule our lives, the more we become inconsistent and lose trust in ourselves, creating a cycle of motivation, excuses, failure, and regret.
Here are the 6 most common excuses and mental barriers to fitness:
Mental barrier: Perceived lack of time
The truth is people don't have time problems. They have prioritization and management problems. While it is true that time is a limited resource, it is also true that we can always find time to exercise if we make it one of our priorities.
Solution 1: Reframe exercise and fitness. You are not exercising for the sake of exercising. Your workout is your investment to a healthier life and more fulfilling life. If you are fit, you can do more meaningful things even in the later stages of life.
Solution 2: Try high-intensity interval training, which can burn tons of calories quickly– a perfect solution to your busy schedule.
Alternatively, you can develop a movement snack and make it a habit to train your mind and body to get used to physical activity, even for a short time.
Remember, 5-15 minutes of workout is better than none at all.
Mental Barrier: Energy Deficit
Yes, exercising can be exhausting—- at first! As your body adapts to the challenges of the gym or workout routine, you also increase your stamina and overall energy level, allowing you to feel more energetic and motivated to do more things.
Solution 1: Consider exercising at a time when you feel most energetic. Don't force yourself to hit the gym at 5 AM if you're not a morning person.
Ensure you eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep, as poor nutrition and sleep deprivation can sap your energy
Solution 2: Gradually build your stamina and mental resilience. If you are a beginner, aim for at least 10-15 minutes of light weight training and cardio-aerobic exercise for a few weeks. You'd be surprised how fast your body will adapt to your new routine.
Mental Barrier: Lack of Patience
Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. It's crucial to keep in mind that results take time and consistency.
Solution 1: Set realistic and measurable goals, and track your progress. Celebrate small victories, like running for a minute longer or lifting a slightly heavier weight.
Take a weekly or monthly photo of your body's progress. In addition, don't measure your weight daily because it is inaccurate due to weight fluctuations.
Solution 2: Don't compare yourself to other people. Genetics plays a significant role in your results. While others can achieve their body goals fast, reaching your personal goals may take months or even years.
Patience and consistency is the key. It might take a while, but it is all worth it!
Mental Barrier: Lack of Motivation
Everyone has those days when we feel we don't like to do what we are supposed to do. After all, motivation is not something we get in consistent amounts or quality on a day-to-day basis.
The key is not to rely solely on motivation to get you moving. In fitness, you have to move to feel like it, not the other way around.
Solution 1: Build a routine and stick to it, whether motivated or not. Working out consistently for a long time makes it a habit, an automatic action requiring less mental energy and less mental resistance.
Solution 2: Find a workout buddy or use a fitness app to make you accountable and challenge yourself to improve despite low motivation.
Here’s a workout plan for women you should try:
And for men:
Mental Barrier: Lack of Knowledge
The gym can be daunting if you're unsure what to do. But don't worry, there are plenty of resources available to help you succeed in your journey.
Solution 1: Consider working with a personal trainer, even if it's just for a few sessions. They can help you learn to perform exercises correctly and create a workout routine.
Solution 2: Join a fitness class or group exercise session. It could be a fun way to increase your knowledge and be comfortable in the gym.
Plus, people in the gym are much nicer than you might think. A gym is a place where people who want to improve themselves go. Everyone there is on their success path and had their 'Day One' at the gym, and most are willing to lend a helping hand or share advice.
Mental Barrier: Financial Constraints
Fitness doesn't have to be expensive. You can do plenty of effective workouts at home or outside with little to no equipment.
Solution 1: Download the Gymaholic app. It is free and full of workout tutorials and exercise routines, perfect for beginners and fitness enthusiasts. You can learn exercise execution, proper forms, and workout plans straight from the app. It’s like a personal trainer in your pocket.
Solution 2: Outdoor exercises such as walking, running, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats can all be done for free. If you prefer a gym environment, look for community centers or gyms that offer discounted memberships.
Solution 3: Home exercise programs such as wall pilates can also be as effective as gym workouts. It can boost your core strength and improve muscle tone while only needing a small space in your room.
Remember, the goal is to make exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your life. This isn't about punishment or deprivation. It's about improving yourself and taking care of your body and mind. Think of exercise as one of your basic needs, such as food and shelter.
Don't let excuses ruin your drive and prevent you from living your best life. Start taking control of your health and fitness by developing personal accountability and working on the solutions listed above to address the most common excuses and overcome your mental barriers.