Since arriving at college in August, I've struggled to build a consistent workout routine. Week-long stretches of daily workouts have been followed by dry spells with excuse after excuse of why I couldn't make it. It's not that I hate going to the gym; once I'm there, it can even be enjoyable. Unfortunately, the mere thought of going often stops me before I ever get through the doors.
Some of my excuses weren't bad: I had an exam, I was sick, I had a meeting... but most were trivial. Twisted logic in my head would make up reasons why I "couldn't" possibly go today. It's raining outside? Oh well, it looks like I can't work out because my shoes are wet. Wouldn't want to slip and fall!
I knew it was getting out of hand though when I started going out of my way to avoid exercise. One day, I volunteered to donate blood, not out of altruism, but so I wouldn't be allowed to engage in any "rigorous movement" for the next 24 hours.
Why was I jumping through mental and physical hoops to convince myself out of doing something I knew was good for me? The problem, I've come to realize, was my loose policy on "extenuating circumstances."
On opposite ends of the commitment spectrum are two ways of being:
- Giving in to any little excuse (i.e. if I get a papercut, I have to miss my workout.)
- Making no room for any excuses whatsoever (i.e. I wouldn't miss a workout for my grandmother's funeral.)
Either extreme can become unhealthy, but I personally struggle more with #1 than #2 (and I'd imagine most people do too).
Every week, I convinced myself that this time was different. There's just a lot going on this week. Next week when things are calmer and back to normal, I'll get back into a routine. But next week would inevitably roll around and along with it, a new set of "valid" excuses.
In reality, there will always be plenty of reasons not to do the very actions that would make my life better because those things are hard. Some excuses may be valid. Most probably aren't. But something will always pop up that could understandably prevent me from adhering to my habits. The extent to which I allow these interruptions to interfere with my priorities will determine the results I get out of life.
Of course, life happens. Reasonable excuses come up that warrant skipping a workout or two, but they happen far less often than I give them credit for. And the problem with yielding to these exigent circumstances is that there will always be more. If I shape my life around things I can't control, I'm no better than a listless leaf in the wind.
There will never be such a thing as a perfect or even "normal" week because life is an unending series of extenuating circumstances. At some point, we all have to decide the things that are important enough to us that even reasonable excuses to aren't enough to derail our efforts.
"If you will be hard on yourself, life will be easy on you. But if you insist upon being easy on yourself, life is going to be very hard on you."
- Zig Ziglar