How To Train Your Brain To Stop Making Excuses Not To Exercise

06/09/2016 12:56

We all make excuses. Monday's workout was a killer, so you should take the rest of the week off. You're too tired. It's raining. You had a stressful day and "deserve" an evening on the sofa.

But it's OK, you'll get back into it next week, right? Maybe. Or maybe another set of excuses will have presented themselves by then.

Our brains come up with excuses all the time, but you don't usually notice until it's too late. These excuses aren't conscious decisions we make about our lives: rather, they just seem to appear automatically.

I call this the 'automatic excuse generator'. The AEG is a genius at crafting up seemingly completely sensible reasons why you simply cannot follow through with that promise you made to yourself yesterday. It also rationalizes every excuse you make for not holding yourself accountable for meeting your fitness goals.

It's a gnarly one to beat for sure, but you are captain of your own ship and you do have the power to kick it back into line.

You can learn to tune out those excuses, and keep on moving right through them no matter how much you don't want to.

How? For starters, by letting go of your need to be perfect at everything you do.

If you only do exercise you're already good at you'll find it very difficult to make progress

If you want to succeed at work and one day your boss tells you that you need to improve your work on your next project, you aren't going to walk out of the office for good just because you didn't perform as well as you could have.

Your AEG might try to convince you that you're not the right person for this job, or you need to take a break to 'figure things out,' but you know those are just excuses. Instead you put in the graft and do what it takes to get better at the tasks.

This is how you progress professionally. Ultimately it's those challenging times that push you on to learn and grow your skills and get better at what you do.

Bring this same attitude to the arena of exercise and you'll find that challenges help accelerate your fitness progress too. When you understand that, you'll stop wanting to run away and hide from workouts you find tough.

Making progress is not about doing workouts perfectly, in fact, if you only do workouts you're already good at you'll find it very difficult to make progress (here's why). It's certainly not about only exercising on days when you feel like it or when nothing else is going on in your life. It's about embracing the fact that it's a challenge and getting your workouts done regularly and consistently rather than caving in to the excuse generator's chatter.

Any time you stumble, just get back up and take another run at it. That's how progress happens

It's important to realise that the AEG will probably never shut up entirely. But it does get much quieter when you stop listening to it so much.

The more you pay attention to the excuses in your head, the louder they become. So loud they're almost impossible to ignore. When you do ignore them, though, and go through with your workout anyway, usually by halfway through your workout, you've forgotten why you didn't want to do it in the first place.

Sound familiar?

Motivation is fueled by positivity, so when you get to the end of your workout, give yourself credit for getting it done, that alone is a big win. Sure there might have been aspects of it you could get better at, if there aren't you probably need to change up your workout! Don't focus on those at this time, instead focus on all exercises you nailed and how amazing it feels to have got to the end of it. Lap those good feelings up and remember that they're always waiting, just a workout away.

No matter how imperfect you feel, no matter how much you don't want to do it, just do it - then come tell me how much it was worth it.

Lap those amazing post-exercise feelings up - remember they're always only a workout away.

If you've been feeling stuck and unmotivated because of your AEG, some extra support might be what you need to turn down the volume of all those excuses and turn up your motivation. Join my online gym for more tips and support from other members who have overcome the same obstacles and workout with me as often as you choose. See you there!