Tips to Ditch Common Workout Excuses

Refuse to let excuses sideline you or keep you from your fitness and health goals.

Jen Jewell | April 13, 2017

Over the years, my “no excuses, just results” approach to fitness has helped me earn some seriously consistent results. But have I always abided by this mantra? To be perfectly honest, no, but once I adopted this mindset, all aspects of my health and fitness started to evolve.

If you find yourself making excuses as to why you haven’t been working on your fitness lately, stop for a second and be honest with yourself about these excuses. Take a look at your habits and your actions, and identify what obstacles continue to pop up that have prevented you from your goals. Is there a common theme?

If you’re nodding along to any of the above, trust me, you’re not alone. I’ve had my own fair share of ups and downs (along with plenty of excuses) throughout my fitness journey. Whether I was in college, working two jobs, when I was more than 35 percent body fat (I was full of excuses back then!), working in corporate America or now working in the fitness industry, I had come up with several excuses along the way to rationalize skipping workouts or healthy eats.

So how did I change my approach? I now refuse to let excuses sideline me or keep me from my goals. With a simple mindset shift, I now take what would formerly be known as an excuse and look for opportunity to improve. Every bit of effort counts and truly adds up to big-time results. The results are just a few workouts away, so ditch those excuses and get to work!

Here are some of my (formerly) most common excuses and how I ditched them for good.

Whoops! I ran out of time before work this morning and didn’t get to pack my gym bag.

We’ve all been there before — your alarm goes off, you hit snooze, and before you know it, you’re scrambling around to get to work on time. The night before, you’d had the best of intentions on heading to the gym directly from work that next day, but without your gym bag packed, you’ll have to head home first before the gym. Uh oh.

We all know what can happen once we get home from work: distraction city. The point is, you’re now home and are probably coming up with several excuses as to why you’ll “hit the gym tomorrow instead,” right?

How I got rid of this excuse:

This excuse used to be my most common, and after missing out on more workouts than I care to count, I knew I had to make some changes.

Turns out, all it took was a few minutes of preparation the night before. Instead of waiting until the morning (when I knew chances of my hitting snooze or running late for a variety of reasons was likely) to pack my gym bag and workout essentials, I took a few minutes the night before and got everything ready. I even started putting my gym bag in my trunk the night before so I wouldn’t worry about leaving it behind if I was in a rush the next morning.

This small change helped add up to some seriously consistent workouts. So simple, right? If you’re a morning workout gal, this same approach will help keep you on track for those pre-dawn workouts. Pack your bag the night before with everything you’ll need in the morning for the gym and what you’ll need to get ready for work at the gym after your workout. I swear this small change made a huge impact on my consistency!

Adopt an all-or-nothing approach to nutrition.

“Does the diet start Monday” sound familiar to you? I know I’ve said those words more times than I care to count.

I used to start out each week intent on staying “on track” with my healthy meals, convinced that I would stick to this stricter regimen. At some point during the week/end if I strayed from the plan, I’d simply brush it off and then proceed to eat whatever I wanted until the next Monday morning rolled around.

Silly, I know, but this is an excuse I used to make and still hear from others far too often.

How I got rid of this excuse:

Once I realized I wasn’t being realistic to my lifestyle, I embraced a more balanced approach. If I grab a burger or dessert, I now pick up with my regularly scheduled healthy options at the very next meal, not the next day or the next Monday that rolls around. Life happens, and sometimes you’re going to have a slice of pizza even if it’s not listed on the plan your trainer created for you. Just don’t let one meal lead to a slippery slope of a series of poor nutritional choices. This is another prime example of how consistency truly is key and that it’s what we do the majority of the time that adds up to results.

Who has time for meal prep and cooking so much food? Ugh, healthy eating can be so time-consuming!

For those who get their Sunday meal prep on and have everything prepared and lined up in Tupperware for the week ahead, I commend you for your organization, cooking skills and efforts. However, if meal prepping your entire week out ahead of time isn’t in the cards for you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have some healthy options prepared and ready to go.

How I got rid of this excuse:

I didn’t turn into a culinary wizard overnight, but I did get realistic about what I eat the majority of the time, what I’m likely to grab when I am on the go (healthy options are everywhere these days!), and what I can whip up in the kitchen in the least amount of time. Instead of cooking every meal, I started by having one to two protein options already cooked and ready to go.

Most often, this was chicken breast and some sort of frittata or egg-white muffins that I could easily prepare ahead of time and last me several days. I started to make one protein smoothie a day (it’s one of my favorites of the day and literally takes one minute to prepare) because I could blend that and take it with me on the go (a scoop of Cellucor Whey, a banana, some ice, tablespoon of almond butter, light almond milk and blend!) for a healthy, simple option.

Keeping snacks on hand to eat such as almonds, cashews, Greek yogurt (I’ll mix some berries in with my plain Greek yogurt and top with some diced almonds for an easy meal option) helps save time and ensures that I’ll always have something healthy on hand. I love salads but hate wasting veggies, so to help with prep time, I will chop up whatever veggies I want for salads or stir-fry for the next few days  (think broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, etc.) and store them (separately from one another) in a sealed container or baggie so that they are chopped and ready to go when it’s mealtime.

These quick fixes for meal prep have helped establish a whole new level of consistency to my healthy eating.

My time at the gym is having a serious effect on my social life!

Feel like you’re spending more time with the weights than out with your friends, a date or social events these days? People begin to hold a grudge against their workouts because they “no longer have a life” outside the gym. As soon as I realized I was annoyed by my workouts cutting into my social life, I knew I had to make some changes.

How I got rid of this excuse:

I started to involve some of my friends in my fitness. One of my favorite ways to combine catching up with a friend and working on my fitness is to grab a friend and head outdoors for some workout fun and chat. Whether you’re just taking a power walk around the neighborhood, going on a bike ride, hiking or working out at a nearby park, this is a great way to combine a workout while spending time with a loved one.

Another thing I love to do is coordinate social events with rest days (we all take them, may as well maximize them!) so I’ll have something fun to look forward to for the weekend. This helps keep a good balance of fitness, fun and weekend events.

Such a simple, fun solution!

I’m so busy, I just don’t have any time to work out for hours every day!

Ahh, the “I don’t have time for the gym every day” excuse. I’ve been there and know countless others who have, too. I’ve even had people message me asking that if they only have 20 minutes a day to work out, is it even worth it or are they just wasting their time? Of course it is worth it! You don’t need hours a day to log results. Every bit of effort you put forth adds up!

How I got rid of this excuse:

Instead of complaining about not being able to work out as long as I’d typically like to, I flip my approach and get excited about the opportunity to change things up and do something new.

Even five minutes of your time spent on a workout is better than nothing; it’s all about getting started and making your health and fitness a priority. The next week, set aside 10 and then go from there. Once you start the habit and feel the positive effects of squeezing in workouts whenever your schedule allows, you’ll be hooked.

Schedules change last minute, things pop up, sometimes you have to cut the workout short or only have 15 minutes to get it done. If I’m left with 15 minutes for a workout, instead of skipping out altogether, I make every bit count and I’ll do a home workout instead. Bodyweight exercises mixed in with cardio bursts have proven to be a ton of fun for me while also earning serious results. Check out the combo below for a fun fat blast that you can do anywhere in 15 minutes or less!

Here’s one of my favorite “no excuses, just results” workouts that can be done anywhere — no equipment needed!

Grab a timer and enough open space to perform a burpee, then get ready to work. This workout is designed to challenge you while maximizing your efforts. Set the timer for 15 minutes, and challenge yourself to perform as many rounds as possible in the 15 minutes.

Perform one set of each exercise back-to-back for 30 seconds. Once you’ve completed one full round of the sweaty circuit below, rest briefly (one minute max), and then repeat the circuit for another three to five rounds (or as many as you can squeeze in for 15 minutes).

  • Burpees
  • Jump Squats
  • Push-Ups With Side-Plank Rotation (alternating sides throughout)
  • Tabletop Hip Thrusters
  • Plank Jacks
  • Side-to-Side Squats (squat to right, back to middle, squat to left, repeat)
  • Side Forearm Plank With Dip (15 seconds each side)

About the Author

Jen Jewell

Internationally published fitness model, sponsored athlete and celebrity trainer Jen Jewell has maintained a passion for staying active and physically fit. She is a firm believer in adhering to and promoting a balanced, sustainable approach to fitness and overall wellness. As a fitness cover model and health and fitness writer, Jen has contributed workouts, nutrition and wellness content features that have been published in a number of international magazines. Follow her on Instagram, here. Learn more about her sponsor, Cellucor, here.