The “One Week, No Excuses” Challenge

Headache Excuse

“Well I would have, but __________.”

“If it wasn’t for ______________, I woulda made it!”

“I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my fault, because of _____________.”

We all do it.

Things go wrong in our day-to-day life. We look back on what could have been, and it’s very easy for us to blame outside forces for those setbacks.

Everything was going great except for that one thing that we never expected to happen. And we get pissed, rightfully so. 

We all have that friend or coworker who always has everything go wrong for him or her; they’ll loudly complain to anybody that will listen about how the world is out to get them…that they’d be supreme high chancellor of the world if it wasn’t for those damn outside forces. 

Unfortunately, this excuses-first mindset is holding us back in our fitness, our health, and oftentimes our lives.

My stories of excuse

My Excuse

I used to be the same way.

It was my Junior year of High School; I was prepped and ready to join the High School Varsity Basketball Team. My older brother was a starter and team captain, I had been called up the year before to travel with the team during the playoffs… And then a new kid moved to town.

After tryouts, I anxiously walked up to the roster to find out what position I’d be playing…except it wasn’t there. I didn’t make the team. In my mind, the new kid took my spot.

I remember for MONTHS holding a grudge and thinking of all the things that had gone wrong:

  • “If he hadn’t moved to town, I woulda made the team for sure.”
  • “That’s not fair, I had been called up the year before.”
  • “My brother is the captain, how could they cut me?”

Long story short: I acted like an entitled ass. 

Although it was difficult for me to eventually admit (years later), the new kid wasn’t the reason I got cut. I got cut because I wasn’t good enough. I hadn’t practiced hard enough. 

And who cares that my brother was the captain! He earned his own accolades. 

Getting cut from that team ended up being one of the best things that happened to me, but at the time all I could do was come up with excuses.

What else are we rationalizing?


It’s amazing what we can rationalize or explain away, rather than telling ourselves the cold truth.

Relationships: think about the last time you asked somebody out on a date (and they said no or bailed) or a relationship ended. All of your friends console you with words of encouragement like:

  • Screw them! You’re perfect and they didn’t see that.
  • Psssh, you’re better off without them.
  • They’re stupid and dumb and you’re awesome.

We then tell ourselves the same thing: “I’m the man/woman and if they can’t see it, then it’s their fault.”

But what if we didn’t look to external reasons and instead looked at ourselves?

  • Maybe I made a horrible first impression. I bet I can work on that.
  • Maybe I wasn’t that funny. I can work on my storytelling.
  • I wasn’t attentive enough. I can be a better listener.

Sure, maybe that person did suck, and maybe it wasn’t a good match, but it’s still a chance to look at every situation as a learning experience.

I remember receiving an email years ago from a NF reader who had recently been divorced and lost his job. Rather than blaming his wife for not loving him anymore and his boss for firing him, he looked at his situation and said to himself:

“She’s right. I haven’t exercised a day since we’ve been married, and I really let myself go. That carried over to my work where I didn’t care. It’s time to get back to taking care of me.”

A few months later, he emailed me to say he had lost a bunch of weight, reignited his love for acting, and won the lead role in a Shakespeare production! How cool is that?

It’s like making excuses is part of our DNA if we’re not careful about it.  Think about all of the excuses we tell ourselves when it comes to getting healthy:

  • I have horrible genetics and that’s why I’m overweight/unhealthy.
  • I would have no problem eating better if I didn’t have this sweet tooth.
  • I’m really busy all the time and I don’t have time to exercise, must be nice for the rest of you.

These excuses aren’t just limited to our health either – think about the excuses we make when things go wrong at work:

  • I would have had the presentation done in time but the server crashed.
  • I would have completed the report but the copier ran out of ink.
  • I would have showed up to the meeting on time but I was stuck in traffic.

This is what our bosses really hear:

  • I didn’t get my work done.
  • I waited until the last minute to finish my work and now I’m blaming technology.
  • I was running late this morning so I’m blaming traffic.

Yup, in each of the situations above, things went wrong.  However, in each of the situations above, we’re quick to point out the final issue rather than the personal decisions that lead to trouble too.

It’s hard to admit to ourselves we could be doing something better, but it’s the first step to a more fulfilling and leveled-up life.

No Excuses

Bruce Lee Quote
Bruce teaches us that excuses are defeating, and defeat is just a state of mind.

Once we accept this, we can start changing our reality and take back control of our lives. The only thing standing between you and leveled up self is your belief in your own excuses.

Here are a few men and women who took this mindset to heart, and overcame their “excuse” when so often we are derailed by something much smaller:

Are you in space? No excuses!

Space Workout

Only have one leg? Watch Ali McWeeney compete in a powerlifting competition: 

Ali McWeeney 

What’s that? You’re too old to change? This grandfather begs to differ:


And so does this powerlifting great-grandmother:


How did these people overcome so much and max out their character?  By using a game-changing philosophy.

The Game Changing Philosophy

Victory Mountain I’ve been running Nerd Fitness now for over 5 years, and have been doing this full time now for four years.

In that time I’ve personally transformed and helped thousands of people go from thinking “why me?” to empowered “why NOT me?”.


By brainwashing ourselves!

I STOPPED allowing myself to use excuses as to why I wasn’t able to complete something, and I stopped feeling sorry for myself when things didn’t go my way.

A good friend recently shared with me a phrase that I’ll never forget, that perfectly embodies the attitude I want Nerd Fitness Rebels to have:

“You can make excuses, or you can get what you want, but not both.”

Once you stop allowing excuses to dictate why things didn’t go right, every moment suddenly becomes an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Yeah, I realize that sounds all hippy and new age and cliche, but it’s so freaking true. When you make excuses, you blame the outside world for things that are happening to you that you don’t like.

You make those forces the villain without accepting any personal responsibility or giving yourself the power to fix it.

As I’ve said before: “it might not be your fault, but it is your responsibility.” Once you adopt this mindset, things change. Suddenly, the world isn’t out to get you, but doors open when others close.

The No Excuses, Play Like a Champion Challenge


Today, I am issuing a challenge.

I want to see if you can go one week without making a single excuse

If you have friends, family members, or co-workers you can trust, ask them to call you out if you make one (“sounds like an excuse to me!”).

We’ve created a SHED YOUR EXCUSES google doc so you can drop in whatever excuse you WANTED to use today but have since decided to abandon.  Feel free to vent and type out your excuse, no matter how ridiculous it is, and then get back to being awesome:

If something goes wrong at work: ask yourself – “what can I learn from this so it doesn’t happen again?”

If your relationship or a date goes poorly, ask yourself – “how can I improve my relationship/dating game so that I be a better partner?”

If you keep coming up with excuses as to why you can’t eat better or exercise more, ask yourself: “how can I prepare ahead of time for the “unexpected things” that keep coming up? Can I prepare meals in advance? Get up before my family does to exercise without distraction? Can I block it off in your calendar so it’s a priority?

Remember, at the end of the day: “nobody believes your excuses except for you.”

We all have shit that we’re dealing with. And we all have things that go wrong to us.

Those that get ahead in life take crappy situations, accept that it’s their job to fix them, and take action and FIX THE PROBLEM. All I wanna know is…who’s comin with me?

I’d love for you to leave a comment and share a story (like I did above):

What’s one instance in your past when you’ve used an excuse to pass the blame, and now that you’re older and wiser…what’s a lesson you SHOULD have learned from that situation? 

Remember, “No excuses, play like a champion!”


P.S. – I’m on the hunt for a new part-time personal assistant to help me with my schedule, travel plans, and wacky personal adventures. You’ve all been so amazing in helping us find the last few team members on our team – and I desperately need a top-notch personal assistant to help me sort my increasingly crazy life!

Will you help me? Here’s a link to all the details. Please forward this to anyone you know who I can trust as my future personal assistant.


photo source: Cirox: Basketball, Jonathan Kos-Read: Clouds, Kevin Dooley: Duck, katrine kaarsemaker: champion, 3/4 of [zer0]: excuse

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    71 thoughts on “The “One Week, No Excuses” Challenge

    1. Same as me! And I’ve been struggling with weight loss since forever! But I think really changing your lifestyle and eating habits is all about the mindset. To be happy on the outside you have to start with the inside. You sound like you are getting on track now! Good luck(:


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    3. Excellent advice. It works for sport and exercise and it works for life as a whole. I take the same approach. My sports and training is a good example. Last season, I felt I was too slow for a position I was running. I could have used age as an excuse (I’m 47, competition is open age with the majority younger than me), but instead I looked around for ways to get faster, sought a coach and took up athletics, in particular, the sprints, to get faster. I’ve managed to gain more than a second and also gained some other unexpected improvements.

      In other areas of life, I podcast for a couple of local radio shows. I’ve had issues early on with not being around, or the unexpected happening (like the cat pulling out the antenna! 🙂 ), so I’ve setup firstly automation, so shows are recorded regardless of me being around, and have built in redundancies so that if one recording doesn’t work, I can use another, or if something major happens, like a power outage here, I know how to get recordings from the radio station’s systems. Failure in the past has been a reason to take action to improve my results.

    4. Wow I was looking for challenges to add to my challenges list and I will totally add this one. I also found one with no complaining for one week.

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    8. I know this no excuse challenge is old, but I’m trying new things. I don’t work. I am a homemaker from my husband and I and I have seven pets that I take care of. I don’t really have any repercussions for not doing something. I am good at making excuses. But sometimes things happen that you can’t control that do prevent you from doing something. So how can I tell if that is just a factor or if I’m using it as an excuse. Like if I get stuck in traffic on my way to a doctor’s appointment and end up late? I always leave for appointments with way way more time than I need, so if I am late, it really isn’t my fault. So what do I do in a situation like that? I know that this post is very old so I don’t know if I will hear anything back, but I hope so

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