“Nobody believes your excuses except for you.”
I discovered this quote through my buddy Tyler, and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been running Nerd Fitness for over two and a half years now, and I’ve heard pretty much every excuse in the book when it comes to exercise, fitness and weight loss.
Today’s post is designed to systematically knock down any roadblock you might encounter on your quest to a better life. Rule #1 of the Rebellion tells us that “we don’t make excuses, we offer solutions.” My goal by the end of this is to have you saying, “Holy crap you’re right. I guess I have no choice but to get in shape.” If you have friends who constantly complain about their predicament rather than doing anything about it, please share this article with them.
Now,when you combine all of this with a new 6-week challenge launching today on the Nerd Fitness message boards (with 50 people already signed up as of this writing), we have a perfect storm of excuse-busting awesomeness.
This is one of the longest post I’ve ever written on Nerd Fitness, so feel free to skim the headings until you find your particular excuse of choice and allow me to shut it down.
Prepare to be educated, sucka!
I don’t like exercising.
Then you haven’t found the kind of exercise that makes you happy. If you don’t like running, DON’T DO IT. If you don’t like lifting weights in a stuffy gym, DON’T DO IT! There are a million different ways to get your heart racing, from hiking to Ultimate frisbee, kung fu classes to parkour. What you eat will be 80% of your success or failure; its your fun activity of choice that will keep you thinking healthy and eating healthy.
Find a physical activity that makes you happy, and do it as often as possible.
Now, no matter what you choose, I will wholeheartedly recommend that you mix in some strength training a few times a week along with your fun activity. It will make you faster, stronger, bigger or smaller depending on your goals, and it’ll keep you healthier and more mobile as you get older.
Strength training? I don’t have a gym membership and I can’t afford one.
You don’t need one! I’ve been a gym rat for the past decade of my life, but since embarking on my Epic Quest of Awesome I haven’t set foot in a gym once. Despite living out of a backpack, constantly traveling, putting out an ebook, and doing some crazy awesome things, I’ve been able to get in the best shape of my life doing nothing but body weight exercises.
I might never get a gym membership again!
If you have a gym membership and enjoy going to the gym, that’s fantastic – just make sure you don’t suck while you’re in there. However, if you don’t have a gym membership and can’t afford one, use your surroundings to get stronger. Simple routines involving things like push ups, working towards doing a pull up, and body weight squats or lunges are a great place to get started.
Work on those movements every other day and you’re well on your way to becoming stronger than 95% of the population.
I know how to do those movements, but I don’t know how to make a workout.
Yes you do! You’re reading Nerd Fitness, which means you’re a smart, resourceful individual. After learning how to build your own workout, give it a try. Spend a week or two going through your homemade workout, making adjustments depending on how your body is reacting to them. Yeah, it’s scary. You’re probably thinking right now, “What if I’m doing the wrong workout, with the wrong number of sets and reps, or I wait too long between sets?”
It’s not the end of the world – we’re all students; I certainly don’t have all the answers and have made PLENTY of mistakes while learning how to exercise properly over the past decade, but I’m constantly learning new tips and tricks and discovering new methods.
What’s important is that you are trying, you are recording your progress, and you are getting better/stronger/faster for the next workout.
Here’s a workout I just came up with in two minutes. Do three sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise, waiting 90 seconds between sets:
- Push exercise (wall push ups, knee push ups, or regular push ups)
- Pull exercise (body rows or dumbbell rows)
- Leg exercise (squats, lunges, or box jumps)
- Core exercise (planks or reverse crunches)
As soon as you can do three sets of 15 repetitions for an exercise, make it more difficult and repeat the process!
See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?
But I’m too scared and I don’t feel like designing my own workout.
Fair enough. Maybe you’re too scared of making mistakes, or designing something seems WAY out of your league (it isn’t, but we’ll pretend that it is). Why not start with something basic like the beginner body weight circuit? Do as much of it as you can, write down your results, and then try to do a little bit better in a few days.
If you could do three sets of four push ups last week (a total of twelve repetitions), then this week you need to aim for at least thirteen repetitions in order to have gotten stronger. I do sell workout and plans if you want even more specific direction and education, the Rebel Strength Guide (for getting stronger and bigger/leaner based on your goals) and the Rebel Fitness Guide (beginner education and weight loss), but I also offer plenty of free workouts on the site as well.
What’s important is that you get started right meow.
But I don’t have time to exercise!
You’re telling me you can’t find thirty minutes today? Stop lying, Pinocchio! While traveling, I created a twenty-minute hotel room workout that will kick your butt and exercise your entire body in…get this…twenty minutes. That means you can get a full workout in while watching a single episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm or Arrested Development.
“But Steve, I’m so busy that I don’t even have twenty minutes in a row to work out!”
Yeah, you do. But let’s pretend that you don’t. Spread out your workout throughout the day (lot of “out”s in that sentence, huh?). Who says you can’t drop down and do push ups in your cubicle, lunges down the office hallway, and pull ups on the bus station overhang while you wait for your ride home?
I’ve created the Angry Birds workout specifically for people like you.
Heck, I’ve even created workout in case you need to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Look at that – you now have workouts that can be done anytime, anywhere. No matter what workout you pick, what’s important is that you get started, WRITE DOWN YOUR PROGRESS, and actually follow through with it! You will level up your life every time you get a little bit better at exercising.
What do you mean, get better? I don’t know how to set goals.
Of course you do.
If you want to “get better” at strength training, you need to do one of three things:
- Get stronger – if you can bench press 95 pounds this week for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, next week try to bench press 100 pounds for three sets of 10 reps. If you are consistently adding more weight to your exercises, you’re getting stronger.
- Get faster – if it takes you 35 minutes to run a 5k this week, then next week you need to be able to do it in 34:59 to consider yourself faster.
- Do more repetitions – if you can do two sets of three pull ups this week, aim for two sets of four pull ups next week. Do one more than last time, and you’re stronger. Now, once you can do more than 10-15 in a row of a particular exercise, it becomes less about strength training and more about muscular endurance, so I’d recommend adding weight or increasing the difficulty of the exercise. (example: if you can do three sets of 15 regular push ups, try them with your feet up on a chair instead)
Let’s take a look at the big picture. I’ve already taught you how to NOT suck at goal setting, but here’s a quick recap:
- Be specific. Don’t just “want to lose weight.” It needs to be something like “I want to lose 10% of my body fat by my wedding in September,” or “I want to do a pull up by December 1st.” You might set too easy of a goal or too unrealistic of a goal; you won’t know until you start working towards it. What’s important is that you stop talking and over-planning and start doing.
- Try different things. If you tried the “run a lot on a treadmill and starve yourself” method to lose weight and failed ten times in the past, what makes you think it’ll work this time? If you’ve previously tried to get in shape and failed, congrats – you found a method that doesn’t work for you. This time, try something different or you’ll end up with the same dismal results.
- Take your goals public – We’re launching a new 6-week challenge today on the Nerd Fitness message boards – write out your goals, share the link with your friends and coworkers, and make them hold you responsible for your declarations. You don’t want to be called a failure, lazy, or a liar, do you? Then you should probably follow through this time and actually do it.
- Measure your results. Stepping on a scale is just one way to track your results, and it’s a poor method at that. Learn how to properly track your progress to make sure what you’re doing is actually working. If you’re not getting the results you want, then you know you need to make some changes.
(Quick side note – a lot of people have already signed up for this upcoming challenge and set of goal of doing 1000 total repetitions of a particular exercise within the 6 weeks. Many are planning to do “24 of [particular exercise] per day” to get there. That will just make your body efficient at doing 24 of something per day and not really promote strength or muscular gains.
Besides the fact that I recommend a day off between strength training days, there’s no progression when you do the same exact thing day in, day out! Read this thread by Spezzy on how to properly set up your goals.)
But I don’t know how to eat right!
Of course you do, you just choose not to. For starters, do you know how much food you eat on a daily basis? Unless you’ve taken a day or two to keep track of what you’re eating, you probably have no clue just how many calories you’re consuming. If you’re trying to lose weight, start by adjusting how much you eat. Aim for around 1800-2200 calories per day. It’ll take your stomach and your mind quite a while to adjust depending on how much you’re currently used to eating, but you can get there.
Once you figure out how much you’re eating, it’s time to start making some adjustments to WHAT you’re eating. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m a huge supporter of the Paleo Diet, a way of eating based around how the human species used to eat waaaaaaaaay back in the day.
Considering my “Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet” is one of the most popular articles on Nerd Fitness, I’d say I’m not alone in wanting to learn more about this stuff.
Let’s say you don’t feel like reading that whole article (you really should, though), start with this:
- Eat more real food – unprocessed meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
- Eat less crap – less processed carbs, less sugar, less processed grains, less junk food.
Make small changes that you can live with. It will take time, but the more closely you can align yourself with that lifestyle, the more success you’re likely to have, and the better chance you’ll have of reaching your goals. Lots of small changes = big results that make Optimus Prime proud.
And even if you’re a complete noob in the kitchen, here’s a quick and easy healthy meal that you can make. If I can do it (and I’m useless in a kitchen), so can you.
“But I can’t give up eating _____________.”
Why not? Are you that much of a slave to your taste buds that you physically cannot go without certain foods? Processed food has been designed for maximum addictiveness – they don’t care that it’s not healthy for you; all they care about is getting you to eat as much of their product as possible.
Heck, they even market certain foods as healthy when in reality they’re actually TERRIBLE for you!
I don’t know about you, but I like to think that I am completely free to think and feel however I want. I know that every decision I make either takes me one step closer or one step further away from my goals. I know that the three minute satisfaction I get from eating a donut pales in comparison to the 24-hour satisfaction I get from looking in the mirror and feeling confident about what I see. I know the five minute satisfaction I get from eating a box of cookies pales in comparison to the week long satisfaction I get from knowing I got bigger, stronger, and healthier.
Sure, I still eat junk food every once and a while, and I have no problem with drinking a few beers with buddies on weekends. I don’t beat myself over these decisions because I do the best I can while having fun and enjoying life – I still make sure that 90% of my meals are healthy so that I can eat poorly every once and a while guilt-free.
MY FAVORITE EXAMPLE: My friend Saint was 60 pounds overweight and couldn’t give up eating certain foods either, so he never got the results he wanted. Then, he finally decided to take control of his life, make some “sacrifices,” and adjust what he ate on a daily basis. 60 pounds of body fat and a bunch of muscle gain later, Saint now has a washboard stomach and laughs about the decisions he used to find so difficult. He’s now a completely new person.
Reevaluate what you can’t do, and why you think you can’t do it. You are in charge of your own destiny, and you’re capable of doing awesome things.
So I know how to exercise and how to eat right, but what’s the point?
We only get one shot at life on this planet, so I’m doing everything I can to live a life worth living.
I know that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so I look at every single day as a gift. I bust my ass, day in and day out, to be the best Steve Kamb I can be. This might sound weird, but I truly feel that it’s my responsibility to live up to my potential – anything less is a waste.
I exercise to be a good example to the Nerd Fitness community, because I know they count on me to practice what I preach. I eat right because I want to have good habits in place for when I eventually get married and raise a family. I take care of my body because I know that my body will take care of me.
Are you married? It’s your duty to be the best husband/wife you can be.
Do you have kids? Don’t you want to set a good example for them so they grow up to healthy, hardworking adults?
It was Tony’s family that lead him to lose 46 pounds (and counting) in just over four months. He wanted to be able to protect his family and grow old with them; now he’s a health machine that cannot be stopped!
Let’s say you have none of those aspirations: you’re single, living in your parents basement, and you don’t have a job.
Then do it for yourself. I want you to be able to stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself with pride. I want you to go to bed tonight saying, “I was the best ME that I could be. I leveled up my life today.” Yeah that sounds corny/new-age/Stuart Smalley, but its f***ing true. Start by transforming your body with exercise, and you’ll be surprised what kind of momentum that will build in every other aspect of your life too.
The Shawshank Redemption said it best: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Okay fine! What if I run out of motivation like last time?
Then your reason for succeeding isn’t strong enough. I’ve already given you all the inspiration you’ll ever need, so there’s not much else I can do for you other than to inspire through my actions. Do it for your family, do it for your (unborn) children, do it for your upcoming wedding in the fall, do it for your tropical vacation in the winter, do it because you want to just want to look better and feel better about yourself.
Heck, try bribing yourself (it worked for Saint).
Tell your friend that you’re going to work out three days a week – every time you miss a workout, you have to pay him $20, no excuses allowed. Now, instead of just “missing a workout,” you have to go to your friend and say, “I was too lazy, so here’s 20 dollars. Please ridicule me.” Ouch.
Better get your ass outside and do some push ups, huh?
Why not make a game out of it? Start a competition with your coworkers, or join our 6-week challenge on the message boards starting today. It’s free to join, you’ll have all of the support you need from fellow NF rebels, and you can even connect with other people who can help motivate you to exercise.
Give yourself any reason to get started, stay on target, focus on powering through the crappy days, and start building healthy habits. Once you hear that first “wow have you lost weight? You look great!” comment, you’ll be hooked on that positive energy.
What if I just don’t feel like working out today?
“Put on your hard hat, and go to work.”
This is a phrase that my friends and I toss around whenever we need to do something we don’t feel like doing.
- Don’t wanna exercise today? Put on your hard hat and go to work. DO SOMETHING, DO ANYTHING. Just get started.
- Don’t feel like eating right? Put on your hard hat and go to work. Prepare your meals in advance so you’re not tempted by junk food at work.
- Feel like sleeping in? Put on your hard hat and go to work. Make the decision that you’re going to stop being a lazy slob, get out of bed, and take action.
But my situation is different, it’s not that easy.
I know you’re a unique snowflake, but when it comes to getting in shape you’re not alone.
And I hate to say it, but it is that easy.
You just have to step up, shut up, stop making excuses, and start doing it. Here at Nerd Fitness, we don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going.
I really don’t care if you are young, old, fat, skinny, a man, or a woman – you can be a better YOU today than you were yesterday. Here are four inspiring success stories from people of all walks of life – you’re telling me that you’re so different that none of this applies to you?
Suck it up. Put on your hard hat, and go to work.
My final question
Congratulations. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
I’ve done what I can in 3300+ words to systematically dismantle every freaking excuse you might have about getting healthy. We’ve launched a new 6-week challenge on the message boards today. I’d love for you to join our 1900+ members and pick three specific goals that you hope to accomplish in the next six weeks. Make your goals public, and hold yourself accountable.
To quote Ghostbusters, “We have the tools, we have the talent!”– each and every one of us is capable of awesomeness; at the very least, we’re all capable of looking at ourselves in the mirror with pride.
You have the education and information you need to succeed. You understand the importance and necessity for exercise. You know how to eat healthy. You’re inspired and motivated to make positive changes in your life. You’ve read success stories of busy people like you with full time jobs who have been able to achieve incredible results.
You understand that this is going to be a lot of hard work, that nothing worth doing comes easy.
I’ve given you every possible tool you need to succeed, and an answer for every excuse you might be able to think up.
You can change your life. And you can start today.
So, what the hell are you waiting for?