What’s the difference between a valid reason and a workout excuse?

by Suzy Oge on October 12, 2012

It might seem like a fine line to you, but the difference between the two is huge. Since launching the Kick-Ass Fall Fitness Kick-off last week, I’ve heard enough workout excuses in 10 days to last a lifetime. Your workout excuses are so plentiful, they are gonna make us both fat; you for obvious reasons, and me from the spiking cortisol levels with every lame excuse I hear.

Too early, too late, too cold, too hot, too hard, too easy, too many, too few, too much, too little…

It reminds me of the popular children’s book by Stan Berenstain, “Old Hat, New Hat”…

True, my kind of workouts are not for everyone, but any motivated person could actually do every one of the exercises, at their own level, as I did when I started; totally out of shape and weighing one burrito shy of 200 pounds.

And of course the times are not convenient for everyone either. But when faced with inconvenience or obstacles, there are two kinds of people in the world ….

1) The first kind of person says…I couldn’t possibly make it, period. (This is the standard response and a clear majority of people fall into this category.)

2) The second kind of person says…I couldn’t possibly make it at the scheduled time due to the inflexible nature of my job or the the grumpy disposition of my boss, but would you possibly consider training me in the park after work? (guy pictured above)

So what turns a perfectly valid reason into an excuse? It’s what you do about it. For every reason, there is a solution or workaround… if you just look for one.

An excuse is a reason that you grab onto very tightly and hold so close to your self that  it becomes part of you. It is the permission you give yourself for not only failing to achieve the things you want in life, but for not even trying.

Sadly, the excuse I hear most often is…I couldn’t possibly, because I have children. (Personally, I have never used my kids as an excuse for being fat, or not doing things in my life, please stop doing that!)

So while the difference between a reason and an excuse might appear subtle when you tell yourself or other people why you couldn’t possibly do something, the huge difference shows up in the results.

When you find the solution or workaround for your perfectly valid reason, great news…you get results. On the contrary, when you hold on to your reason and it becomes an excuse, guess what…no results, but you do get to keep your excuse for as long as you choose!

So last night I trained this highly motivated individual because he could rush back from a meeting in Amsterdam to make it at our agreed time, that was possible.  My two kids played on the pirate ship playground nearby; pretending they were pirates and the darkening sky was the Red Sea; the bag of fruit I brought for their snack was the treasure…because dinner could be a little later last night, it was possible.

At the end of the workout, my trainee laid on his back among the fall leaves beside me and huffed and puffed as I counted out the last reps. The irony was not lost on me that the only other people in the park at this hour were the hoards of people coming and going from the strangely placed all-you-can-eat Chinese Wok restaurant located in the park, just a few meters away from our workout spot. They don’t do fortune cookies much here in Holland, but I’ve got a fitness fortune for you…”He who shows up to do the nightcrawler workout…wins!”

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