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I believe that adopting a “no excuses” lifestyle is impossible without understanding the difference between an excuse and a reason. A reason is a valid impediment to getting your workout in, though you would do it if you could because you want to do it. “I was held up late at work.” “I had a paper due the next day.” “I had a flat tire.” Work is necessary for a living. An education costing thousands of dollars is essentially a student’s job. Transportation is necessary to get to the gym (so, work out at home!). Therefore, these are reasons.

A good question when it comes to reasons is: WHY were you held up late? WHY was writing the paper put off until the last minute? WHAT CAUSED the flat tire? Was it at all related to the fact that you haven’t had your tires rotated in the last 70,000 miles? The causes of many such reasons can sometimes indicate larger issues of stress and disorganization that require constructive thought. Still, a reason has good reason behind it.

An excuse, on the other hand, is an attempt to find a reason not to do something you DON’T want to do. “The gym is too crowded.” “I didn’t feel like it.” “I’m too out of shape.” “Exercise is hard.” These are excuses. They have no concrete reasoning behind them that truly prevents a person from working out.

Too often, people try to force themselves to work out because they know it’s something they “should” be doing, and find it difficult to maintain a routine. They know they should “want” it, but they don’t because everything they associate with fitness—not looking or feeling “good enough,” intimidation in gyms, and forever giving up the foods they love, to name just a few—is negative.

It is indeed hard to do something you don’t want to do, 3-6 days a week. Part of my goal with my clients is to cultivate the desire to work out based on establishing priorities, meeting goals, getting concrete results, and positive reinforcement. Changing negative attitudes towards exercise is the best route to changing behavior patterns from unhealthy to healthy.

Life is complex; for most people, physical fitness is only a small part of their lives. And that’s all it needs to be for most of us, as long as it is a part. Once it is enjoyable and rewarding, it can become a part, and then, maybe, it can become a passion.