I find myself at a turning point in my life – physically. You see, I’m 53. I work on a computer all day. And by all accounts, I’m lazy.
I wasn’t always lazy. Or maybe I was, but just worked through it. You see, strength was always an asset to me. All my life I’ve been active in sports. I rode my bike endless miles as a kid. I was an all-State athlete in high school. I was a wildland firefighter and a structural firefighter for a dozen years and was in excellent shape. Even into my late 40’s I was competing in obstacle course races and completed my first Spartan Trifecta just a five years ago.
Then I started getting injured and gained 50 pounds. Boom.
True, but not the whole story. What happened, I think, is age caught up with me. Injuries began plaguing me. Two inguinal hernias, a ruptured bicep, a partially torn rotator cuff, and a herniated disc. All within a handful of painful years.
Once I had my first hernia repair, in late 2016, after I ran a Spartan Beast, my body changed. Sidebar – I did not get hurt at the Spartan Beast – the hernia was something I got doing an unwise lift at my local CrossFit gym. Anyway, after that surgery I was weaker and the weight came on. At that time I was 180lbs (appropriate for my 6 foot height).
Add to that, that I plain ol’ “embraced my laziness”. My diet sucked. Lots of late night pizza and Captain Morgan an Diet Cokes. Even though I continued to work out I still got fatter.
Hey, I ran my first marathon just last November (6 months ago). I still managed to gain 10lbs while training for that. Weird, eh? Not really – it was my lazy diet.
Now, fast forward to 5 years later from my heyday at 48 years old. I have romantic thoughts about what used to be and how I let my physique and conditioning get away from me. So what can I do about it?
The first step is to look at the 4 top excuses to avoid exercise and/or weight loss and be stronger than these excuses.
1. I Don’t Have Time to Train
This could be one of the most common excuses, the most real, and the easiest to overcome. We just need to make time. Make exercise a priority. Sometimes we just have to put ourselves first.
I get it – you have a full time job. You have a spouse and perhaps you have kids. I’m here to tell you, that’s all real. I know because I run a business, manage clients and projects, and must be available to those clients at all times. I also have a family. Time is hard to come by.
What works for me is to overtly make exercise a priority. I have to. Especially when work gets really busy I find myself missing workouts because I don’t have the time. It’s then that I have to stop. Then take a breath and say “no matter what, I come first”. Then I’ll not feel guilty about keeping just 1 hour of my day for me – to go for a run or bike ride, or to grab 45 minutes in the weight room.
Get up an hour early and grab a 45 minute workout in the morning. Yea, that sucks. But it’s what you have to do if you want real weight loss. Or do it in the evening just before or after dinner. Or at lunch time. Whenever you can squeeze it in, do it. Then build the rest of your daily schedule AROUND that workout time. Don’t let it go. Make it the most important part of the day.
2. I am Too Tired to Train
This one can probably fit into the excuse we just heard. Busy days and a full schedule can make you tired. But you know what helps build energy levels? Yes – exercise. The more weight you lose and the more fit you become, you’ll realize increased energy levels. This will make “getting out there” easier.
And like the excuse above – make exercise a priority and stick to it. You won’t be so tired. Matter of fact, your workout time will PROBABLY be the highlight of your day before long.
A good trick is to MAKE YOURSELF START – for just 20 minutes. Tell yourself that if you’re still tired after 20 minutes then you can stop. I’ll bet that most of the time you will be fine and just finish your whole workout.
3. I Already Exercise, but I Still Can’t Lose Weight
The only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. I repeat – the only way to lose weight is to stay in a calorie deficit. Forget these fad diets, just eat sensible food (more whole foods and less processed food) and eat less calories in a day than you burn. Do that – and you’ll lose weight.
Pretty easy, right?
Two steps to get this done:
- Figure out how many calories you should eat in a day. This TDEE Calculator is a good place to start.
- Track your food. This is super important. If you don’t do this you will most likely continue to overeat. You can use online platforms to track such as MyFitnessPal or MacroStax.
Just do it for a week. If you haven’t tracked your food before, do it for one week to start. I bet it will be pretty eye opening for you.
On the subject of food, another important aspect of your food is to learn how to eat. Learn HOW to properly structure your diet, and plan out healthy meals. There are options out there that you can also use when feeding your family.
Suggested Apps and Programs to Learn About Nutrition
- I’ve used Noom and it’s pretty good. My only reservation about this one is that it’s not for athletes. It’s great for beginners and those who don’t exercise that often, but not for endurance athletes or those doing serious strength training. The reason I say this is that Noom will give you a very low calorie count, and I found that I wasn’t able to sustain enough calories for the energy I needed.
- Precision Nutrition is another option. I’ve used the online coaching and found it to be a better choice for me than Noom. Very similar concepts, and both are good. My preference was based on the presentation of the courses – I found Noom to be a little too “cutesy” wheras PN was a little more straight forward with the info.
In both platforms above, I did learn some valuable tools that I can use daily to improve my diet. And being that I cook for my family, I am improving their diet too.
4. I Don’t Know What to Do / I Need a Training Program
This is a relatively easy excuse to overcome. There are countless trainers, gyms, programs, books, and apps out there that will help you with a training plan.
The first step is to figure out what you like. To figure out what works for you.
- Are you driven by goals? If so, set yourself a fitness goal (other than just to lose weight). Sign up for a 5k run and work toward that. Or a half marathon. If running isn’t your thing, set a strength goal – like to bench press your body weight (for guys) or put up three plates (315lb) if you’re a little more advanced. Set a goal and focus on that.
- Are you a social person? If so, maybe a group class at the local gym might be your thing. There are lots of options out there. Hot Yoga, CrossFit, Rhumba, Pound, Spin Class, etc.
- Are you NOT a social person? If you’re on the introverted side and don’t like the gym there are lots of options still. A pair of walking / running shoes, a new bike, a garage gym, a treadmill or elliptical in your kitchen might be your thing.
- Do you have an injury or physical limitation? If so, focus on a workout you can do in your condition. Injured back? Walks or bike rides can work. Tweaky shoulder? Focus your strength training on improving that shoulder strength or mobility.
- Do you have any particular like for a certain kind of activity? Do you like to walk? Hike? Have you always wanted to conquer a half marathon? Build your training goals around this to keep motivated.
Once you get an idea of what might work for you, make a commitment. If you decide to create your training program on your own, there are a lot of resources out there.
When I first got into running, I used an app called “Couch to 5k” (c25k as it was the app name). Here is an example of the Couch to 5k concept (this is not the same app I used, but you’ll get the idea). That gave me a very easy-to-follow program that got me up to running a 5k. Once I achieved a 5k, my next goal was the 10k (which I ran only months later). Then I did a half, and finally, a full marathon.
Just go onto the App Store or Google Play and browse for “running programs” or “strength programs” or “C25k” and so on. There will be no shortage. Just install them and check them out until you find one that works for you.
You can find a lot of good books with training programs in them. Or, use a good book as inspiration. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve read (Note – I may earn a few cents if you buy a book through one of my links):
- Run Less Run Faster – Absolutely a favorite of mine. I’m a time-crunched athlete, and at my age I find that three run days per week is plenty. This program is built around that.
- Marathon, by Hal Higdon
- Nowhere Near First by Cory Reese – This isn’t a training plan book. It’s just a fun and inspiring read about Ultramarathon running.
- The New Rules of Lifting – If you’re strength training this is a great “back to basics” read.
- Cycling Past 50 – If cycling is your thing, there are some good training plans here.
- Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews – Once you get past all of the self-marketing that the author does in the first few chapters, you’re left with some really great info. I find that this is a good reference book for me.
Online Apps and Programs
- Hal Higdon – A true leader in marathoning. His site is full of training programs for runners of all levels.
- Training Peaks – This is a training tracker. There are a lot of training programs available for purchase for a variety of different sports. You can find Hal Higdon’s programs here, among others.
- Garmin Connect & Strava – both have website and app tools to help you track workouts, plan, and program.
A Live Coach
- Phoenix Human Performance – This is live coaching by Chris Judy, former USPro cyclist turned strength and conditioning, endurance, and OCR Coach. I have personally been working with Chris one and off for several years. He coached me through a Spartan Trifecta in 2016, through several gravel cycling events, and most recently through my first running marathon in 2020.
- Maui Athletics – Another online coach (or live if you live in Maui). Dr. Allan Bacon is good at what he does. If you’re on Facebook, check out the group he manages “Gym Memes & Tips“.
- A local personal trainer can be an option as well. You can usually find trainers through your local gym. Make sure to interview them well in order to find one who can best help you obtain your goals.
In Conclusion –
There are answers for every excuse not to lose weight or to train. Don’t get caught up in the “can’t” and focus on doing.
This is a advice to myself. Today begins focus.