After a long day at the office, it’s tempting to skip your planned 5K run or group fitness class in favor of some wine and a Netflix binge. And, we’ve all had those pre-dawn mornings where your warm bed is too comfortable and exercise is just not going to happen, even after you’ve signed up for a seat in an indoor cycling class. But, if you keep hitting snooze instead of hitting the gym multiple days in a row and it starts to become a habit, you might need to do some soul-searching. It’s time to find out why you are skipping workouts in the first place so that you can push through and crush your fitness goals.
Why are we skipping workouts, really?
You say that you’re skipping workouts because you’re too tired or too busy to exercise. But, usually, there’s more going on underneath the surface of those excuses, says Julia Tehovnik, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Chicago who specializes in sports and health psychology.
For one, you’re probably unmotivated, she explains. “If we’re feeling unmotivated, it’s quite easy to push working out down the list of our priorities,” she says. “Once our motivation starts to lessen, it becomes easier to find reasons to skip our workout routines. [These] include having no time to work out due to a busy schedule, or feeling too tired at the end of the day from being busy all day. Underlying those excuses is usually a lack of motivation.”
Alternatively, Tehovnik says that you might be stuck in a workout rut. “Frequently my clients will disclose [that] they are feeling discouraged from the lack of tangible results from their workouts, or even feelings of worthlessness because their workouts are physically taxing and difficult to complete,” she says.
Monica Lam-Feist, ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness lead at AlgaeCal in Vancouver, BC, thinks it comes down to a matter of prioritization. “For a lot of people, it’s easier to skip a workout than to reschedule an appointment or complete that errand,” she says. “And, while it’s important to stay on top of your busy daily life, that doesn’t mean [that] your health should take a back seat.”
To stay on track, remember your “why.”
Whether you’re not feeling motivated, or your schedule is getting in the way of gym time, the good news is that you can get back on track with consistent exercise. But, in order to get there, it’s important to remember why you’re doing this in the first place, says Matthew Peale, co-founder of Movement Academy, an online exercise program and motivation platform in Mandeville, Louisiana.
“Everything boils down to a person’s why,” Peale says. “If the why is not strong enough, you will not stick to anything.”
Is your “why” to lose weight, feel better, or to accomplish a goal—like running your first 5K? Visualize a goal and write it down. “To establish a strong why, keep it specific and have a time frame for when the goal is to be accomplished,” says Peale. “There also has to be a fun factor. Doing something that is enjoyable or leads to a feeling of accomplishment is easier to stay on track for, than a goal which has no enjoyment.”
Tips for Sticking to Your Workout Schedule
Even if you’ve got your “why” in order, it can still be difficult to stick to that training schedule when things get busy with kids, other family obligations, and work. These expert tips may help you to stop skipping workouts.
Find something you enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy running, visiting the gym, or lifting weights, you won’t be motivated to do them. So, don’t. “If the gym isn’t your jam, try a recreational league sport,” recommends Lam-Feist. “Go for a walk, a hike, or try frisbee golf. Think of non-traditional exercise. At the end of the day, the best way to stick to a program or a workout is to really enjoy it. If you can find something that you don’t associate with exercise—you’ve won!”
If you have problems with prioritizing exercise, keep it simple and work out at the same time each day, Tehovnik advises. That way, it will eventually become part of your normal schedule. She also suggests scheduling morning workouts if you’re usually busy. That way, your daily activities won’t get in the way of your workout and you’ll feel accomplished all day long.
Set a game plan.
Even more specifically, plan your schedule to a “T” recommends Lam-Feist. “A game changer for me was putting allotted hours into my Google Calendar each day for my workout,” she says. “Whether you’re exercising two to three times a week or daily, try it. Signing up for fitness classes and reserving spots in a class is also a great way to stay consistent. It helps to keep you accountable.”
Mix it up.
Tehovnik says that you can keep your workout schedule consistent. But, mix up your routine to avoid boredom and keep your body challenged. For example, if you usually bike, try stair climber or yoga. Stay creative and try something new every few weeks, if possible.
Find your squad.
You’re more likely to stop skipping workouts if you have friends waiting for you, says Peale. “Do an activity in a group or with a partner. It spreads out the accountability and also doesn’t feel like exercise when you’re meeting friends,” he recommends.