Snooze buttons, wine clubs, a stubbed toe, and the dog ate my homework.

I’ve been teaching a 5:30 am fitness class for a little over ten years and have probably heard more excuses than most people except for maybe doctors, law enforcement officers, and school teachers.

Before I started teaching the early bird class, I taught the after work crowd so I’ve learned that the excuse makers don’t just come in the morning.  Over the years I’ve found the fitness class participants and other workout warriors fall into three categories:

  1. The Regulars – the ones that you can count on being there unless they are on vacation or have something pretty significant take place in their life that prevents them from coming.  They come when they are tired, sick and injured.  These are the die-hard whatever-doesn’t-kill-me-makes-me-strong folks.
  2. The Newbie – This person is coming to class for the first time.  The Newbie is a challenge for the instructor because the instructor wants to find a way to ‘hook’ them and turn them into a Regular.  “Drink the Kool-Aid Newbie and maybe someday you too shall be a Regular.”
  3. The Gung Ho a/k/a Disappearing Act – This person is rabid about their workouts and goes crazy while they are coming to class and are doing their workouts on a regular basis.  These are the people that are talking up their progress to the other participants, doing six or seven workouts a week, tracking their calories, losing weight. But then something changes and they start to burn out and their attendance starts to fizzle. These are the folks that miss a couple of weeks at a time and when they return they have an arm load of excuses:  “I hit the snooze button and overslept.”  “I went to the monthly wine club last night and stayed out to late.”  “I stubbed my toe on the couch and”   . . . .   You get the idea. This is the person that appears to have turned into a Regular but all of a sudden they do their Disappearing Act.

They feel bad about skipping out on their exercise program.  They are disappointed that they have allowed these other ‘things’ to interfere.  Their excuses don’t sound legitimate even to their own ears but yet they are not able to get back in the groove.  An internal battle has taken root and the snooze-button-hitting, wine-drinking, toe-stubbing evil twin has come out swinging.

Of the three categories of participants, Gung Ho is the most common.  We’ve all probably been Gung Ho at one time or another.  We’re totally energized, excited with our results, proud of our accomplishments but then one day, poof!  We’re gone.

Let’s look at some ways to get the Disappearing Act back.

To Go Faster, You Have To Slow Down  

The gal or guy that’s lost their motivation to continue to do those things that they know are good for them needs to dig a little deeper to find out what is going on:  Reflect. Rewind. Relax. Revive. Reboot.

  • Reflect – Some serious soul searching needs to take place so that the individual can understand why their motivation is waning.  You don’t have to find answers to the ‘why’ questions but rather try to expose what is really causing the setback.  Begin listing the reasons why you don’t feel as motivated to workout along with the excuses that you are using. Here are some examples:  I am not getting enough sleep.  I am bored with the workouts.  I don’t have time.
  • Rewind –Think back to the time when it was all clicking for you. What motivators were present?  What were you excited about?  How did you feel?  Write down your discoveries:  I like that it made me feel stronger.  I’m able to jog where before I could only walk.  My clothes look better on me. Get really serious about why this is important to you and how good the success made you feel.
  • Relax – Do not panic!  I see this all of time.  People, at some point, reach a peak in their level of motivation and then, for whatever reason, it begins to wane.  They don’t feel as excited about their workouts and they fear they won’t be able to get their mojo back. They are distressed.  They think that everything will turn back to the way it was and all of the hard work will have been for nothing.  And the worst part is they’ve lost control of it.   Breathe.   Everything is going to be okay.
  • Revive – It is completely normal to get excited about something new that you’ve started (in this case, working out) but after the novelty wears off it’s not as fun. (What is?)  Some of the things on the Rewind list that used to be motivators (getting up early to get my workout done) might now be on the Reflect list as a barrier (the snooze button).  Brainstorm some ideas that could help you get you excited about exercising again.  Write down at least five ideas and from that list set two goals. Once you’ve picked two goals, write them down and then smarten them up.  Remember your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Put the goals under the magnet on the fridge or in another very visible place.  Keep them in front of you consistently and keep track of your progress in reaching them.  Goals that are written down and tracked are the ones that are most often reached.
  • Reboot – The purpose of this exercise is to get the individual to put an end to the cycle of the negative self-talk that inevitably has started and actually begin tackling the problem.  Negative self-talk has a tendency to become very repetitious and is non-productive.  Telling yourself you’re a loser and berating yourself over what you are not doing won’t help you start doing it again.  Think of rebooting your brain.  Shut it down, delete the junk files (excuses, negative self-talk), and boot it back up.

Take a little time to figure out why you’re no longer motivated to do what you know is best for you so that you can move forward.  And please.  No more excuses.

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