5 Most Common Excuses That Sabotage Fitness Goals

It is amazing the lies we will tell ourselves. The excuses we believe and signup for, without query or question.  They are outright sabotaging your fitness goals.

How many of these “escape routes” or “exit doors” can you add to a plan before it fails?

 So, what are the most common excuses… oops, I mean escape routes? 

5 Most Common Escape Routes that Sabotage Fitness Goals


The Five Most Common Escape Routes That Sabotage Fitness Goals

Perhaps, I should provide an example for context – a recent client was very emotional about the lack of progress, she was making with her exercise and nutrition program. After listening for a while, I asked if we could focus on the “positives” of her current fitness regimen. She thought for a minute and then shared with me that she consistently followed a walking program. I responded, “Great!” Walking was something we could build her exercise routine around. I asked her if she was going to be walking that day, and she looked at me, and said, “Uh, no (cue incredulous look)…it’s raining outside.”

What an interesting response.  I did the math – we live in the Seattle area. It rains approximately 158 days, per year. That is nearly 50% of the time. So, if she only walks outside on days when the weather is up to her standards, she has just written off half of the days in the year. I asked her if she owned a raincoat, and she replied, “Yes.” So, then I asked, “Does it have a hood?” And, she responded, “Yes.” So, do you have a skin condition that causes blistering, when exposed to water? She answered, “No.” I ventured forth and nudged a little more firmly. “So, what leads you to believe that you cannot walk, when it is raining outside?” She did not have an answer.

Together we discovered that she added a personal escape route to her program. She had allowed herself permission to be inconsistent with her plan – inconsistent when things got a little uncomfortable.

Karen is not unusual. In fact, unacknowledged escape routes are common amongst many trying to reach their fitness goals.


Exit Doors - WELLFITandFED

“I AM TOO BUSY.”    


Let’s suppose that your child is very ill. (FYI: If you don’t have children, substitute your beloved furry, four-legged child, or esteemed houseplant in this scenario.) And, let’s suppose that the only way to remedy your child’s illness is to “physically move” him or her at least 30 minutes, a day. I suspect, suddenly, 30 minutes would become available. In other words, making time for  Jimmy, Rufus, or your variegated Pothos, on a task that was important, would be completely “doable.”

 “Busy” is simply a “values proposition.” You are not too busy; exercise might just not be a priority for you, maybe because you don’t value it or yourself enough. (Harsh truth, I know.)

 Pep Talk: There are so many ways to include exercise into your daily routine (i.e. bench-pressing a baby, walking an extra flight of stairs, or meeting a friend for a walk around the neighborhood). Make sure your exercise routine is consistent. Put it in your daily schedule, as an inflexible appointment. It is important to remember that moving is the most important thing in your day. Why? Well, because it supports brain function, energy, and longevity. (I won’t bore you with the data, but it is true.) You are worth it!

Exit Door - WELLFITandFED




 Aside from the fact that moving (i.e. exercise) provides you with a healthy production of energy-boosting hormones, the “I am too tired” escape route is bogus. “Tired” is relative. “Tired” is an excuse to get out of something that you just don’t want to do. The next time you hear that little voice in your head saying, “I am too tired,” stop, and evaluate, if you are truly “too tired,” or, in fact,  just disinterested in, taking out the garbage, dining with neighbors, or exercising for an hour. It is okay to think that exercising isn’t very fun. But being fit will save your life, and no-one has ever regretted 30 minutes of exercise! 

 Pep Talk: Acknowledge your “fatigue,” but do the work anyway. What is the worst thing that can happen? Well, actually… nothing. I will bet my left bicep that no one has died from exercising, when “tired.” If you feel “too tired” to exercise, maybe, you could shorten your exercise routine, but don’t just NOT do it. Start it, and see how you feel in a few minutes. Exercising will stimulate your brain’s neurotransmitters and hormones, which will put a little “zing” into your step. So, be loving, but firm in your self-talk. Acknowledge the “committee member” in your brain, who is trying to talk you out of exercising, and let her know that you “heard” her, but that you are going to exercise, regardless.

Exit Door - WELLFITandFED


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“GOING TO __________ (gym, yoga, boot camp, cross fit, etc.) IS EXPENSIVE.”


 Yup, it is…and so is cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Pay now, or pay later. And, guess what? Luckily, you live in an age of exercise apps, DVDs, On-Demand services, hiking trails, meet-up groups,  and a host of other low or “no-cost” fitness options.

 Fitness is free my friends. Therefore, “the cost” of exercising is NOT a legitimate “escape route.”

 Pep Talk: Ramp up your exercise routine by power walking, hiking, climbing stairs, stretching on the front lawn, walking or jogging on your local high school track, performing push-ups and dips, or stretching.  These activities are free and extremely effective!

Exit Door - WELLFITandFED




 My escape routes always relate to nutrition. I have used the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse on several occasions. My dialogue consistently went something like this, “I will finish this bag of iced animal cookies tonight, and start my diet tomorrow.” 

 Listen closely. The “I will start tomorrow ‘escape route’” is a deep-seeded indicator of your readiness to change. When I encounter this “exit strategy” with clients, I stop everything, and lovingly tell them, “If something is promoting your bad habits,(i.e. self-serving), you need to identify what it is and squash it. You cannot have success until you do.”

 Let me explain (I will use the iced animal cookies as an example). When I would buy a huge bag of pink and white iced animal cookies, and eat almost the whole bag in one sitting, I would tell myself, “I will get back on track tomorrow.” (Do not worry; I am clear on the obsessive overeater diagnosis.) Somewhere along the way stuffing my face became a Band-Aid to a particular void inside of me. Until I worked to figure out what the deeper issue was, I could not tackle the binging. 

Using the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse NOT to participate fully in your fitness program, is serving you in some way. Is your “I’ll start tomorrow”  really just a “masked lack of readiness to truly change?” If so, why?

 Pep Talk: Instead of using the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse, ask yourself the following question: What if I start today? Then, mentally list all of the benefits of starting today (i.e. more energy, ability to accomplish goals, a healthier body, a more efficient metabolism, and pride that you are making progress). You get the idea! Brain chemistry is VERY flexible; therefore, your thoughts can change your intentions, which can lead to positive actions. See, you’ve got this!


 “I AM EMBARRASSED TO BE SEEN IN MY _____________” (i.e. gym shorts, bathing suit, yoga pants, etc.)


 I like to consult with a particularly fabulous woman, who happens to be morbidly obese. Unfortunately, the only exercise she is willing to commit to is swimming. However, she will not go swimming, because she is afraid of being seen in her bathing suit.

 Haven’t we all felt her discomfort? Embarrassed to be seen, at one time or another?

 Pep Talk: I get it. I still remember crying in the bathroom, when my mom bought me a pair of ski pants that were way too small because she didn’t realize how much weight I had gained in college. I am confident the majority of the exercising public would agree that when one sees any person making an effort to exercise I either forget that I  saw them OR, I mentally give them a big standing O and think, “You are so freaking awesome – Way to go!!”  Your health and fitness are far too important to let the “embarrassed to be seen” escape route, interfere with it. Avoiding exercise, because of a fear of being seen, is only hurting you – only sabotaging you, and you are so much stronger than that!


 Many of these escape routes are deeply based in FEAR. But, facing FEARS is how you grow!! If you face these “escape routes” or, “excuses,” and address them for what they are – you win twice. Firstly, you start exercising, and secondly, you conquer a fear, which always translates into growth. Personal growth is life’s whole point, right?

 So, even if you are busy, tired, slow to act, or embarrassed – close those escape routes, and seal the hatches. Once you do those important steps – get ready. You are going to see amazing results, and I, for one, will be standing by cheering you on! 

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This week I encourage you to take a moment to get deeply honest with yourself. Write down three reasons you fall of your fitness wagon. What are your escape routes? Is there one that you can focus on turning around? What do you need to do to close that door for good? 


The Five Most Common Escape Routes Sabotaging Your Fitness Goals



4 Responses

  1. You know, people just think I’m weird that it is just my schedule to go to the gym every single day after work. Like I have to adjust my schedule to do anything else at night and no one understands that. I LOVE working out though.

  2. This is super helpful. I’m totally gonna start tomorrow! Wait, no TODAY! 🙂 Thankful for you Heather and excited to work with you.

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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