The Top 10 Lame-Ass Reasons Not to Exercise

Don't be this guy.  (Photo courtesy of The Tropical Times.)

Don’t be this guy. (Photo courtesy of The Tropical Times.)

Here are the Top 10 Lame-Ass Reasons not to exercise, as I see them.  It’s not an official list compiled by the We’re Better Than You Exercisers of America or anything.  These are reasons I’ve heard most often from friends, family, and coworkers, and my personal reaction to them.  (I’ve used many of these excuses myself.)  If I seem a little more aggressive than usual in this post, it’s not your imagination — I am.  I feel that strongly about the benefits of exercise.  (Diet is the topic for another day.)

By the way, aside from No. 1 (which wins by a landslide), they aren’t in a particular order.  If you have other good ‘uns, write them in the comments section at the bottom!

10. My spouse or significant other is not supportive of the idea of me working out.  He (or she) has no interest in exercise.

Ever heard the “crabs” theory?  It states that when you’re boiling a pot full of live crabs and one tries to escape, the others will pull him back in.  They would rather all cook together than help or even allow one to escape.  Sounds like you’re in a pot of crabs.  Have the guts to say, “I know this is what’s best for me AND you.  If you’re not onboard, I’ll go it alone.”

9. Gyms are full of leering, flexing, chemically inflated meatheads.

I’m sure there are gyms that fit that description, but I’ve never encountered them.  To the contrary, I attend two Crossfit “boxes,” and I’ve found the people there  friendly, supportive, nurturing, encouraging, funny, intense, and family-oriented.  We have holiday parties, organize community fundraisers, and learn each other’s children’s names.  I’m sure you’ll find the same in many other fitness establishments where like-minded people are working toward similar goals.  The atmosphere is overwhelmingly positive because the process of becoming fit is, by definition, optimistic.

8. People who are fit have never been out of shape like me.  They are naturally athletic and prone to fitness.  I’m not.  Therefore, I could never be fit.

This absurd perception that thin, fit people have always been thin and fit annoys the crap out of me.  And it’s dismissive and offensive to people who have put in hundreds of hours of effort and pain to earn the body they currently have.  Of the people I work out with, only about a third have athletics in their backgrounds.  Most are like me:  former couch potatoes (like the guy in the photo above) who decided enough was enough.  Everybody is prone to fitness because every BODY was designed by God Almighty Himself.  ’Nuff said.  Next!

7. I’m too scared.

If you’re choosing obesity and poor quality of life for you and your family over the alternative of fitness and awesome quality of life because you’re “too scared” to go into a gym or Crossfit box or to do pushups and situps on your own living room floor, fear isn’t your problem.  Stupidity is.  Your fear should be directed toward the medical trolls that are hiding under bridges in your future, and what maladies you’ll have to endure after its too late to avoid them.  Next!

6. Gym memberships are too expensive.  I don’t have the money.

Who needs a gym?  My first six months of regular exercise happened on my living room floor all for the low, low price of nothing.  I used absolutely no equipment other than my own body weight.  During that time, I lost 50 pounds.  NEXT!

5. I’m happy with me the way I am.

OK, but I doubt it.  America is the most obese country on Earth.  More than one-third of adults in our country are obese.  These aren’t my stats — they come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  So there’s a pretty decent chance that you’re telling me you’re happy with being obese (or on your way there).  Call me crazy, but if that’s what you’re saying, I bet you’re not being totally honest with yourself.  “I’m happy with me the way I am” is usually code for “I don’t really believe I can change,” or “I’m too lazy to change.”  Moving on!

4. I’m too out-of-shape and have too many aches and pains.

When I began Crossfit, I hadn’t done any meaningful exercise in 20 years, couldn’t run 200 meters, and was 30 to 40 pounds overweight.  I’ve got degenerative disc disease and underwent lower-back surgery 10 years ago due to severe sciatic nerve pain in my leg.  Every morning, I wake up with lower-back pain.  I’ve also got shoulder and knee problems.  My point is, whether you’re a couch potato or a professional athlete, you will have aches and pains.  They will only limit you if you allow them to.

3. I’m too old to start.

Give me a break.  I started at 44. (I’m 48 now.)  I could be a dad to several people I work out with.  And there are a couple “fire-breathers” that could be MY dad!  No age is too old to move in some way.  I can say with confidence that if you’re reading this blog, you’re not too old to exercise.

2. I don’t like it.  It’s too hard.

Hmm.  I sure glad Edison didn’t decide it was too hard to invent the lightbulb.  Or that Lincoln didn’t figure it was too inconvenient to end slavery.  I’m even glad the U.S. Olympic hockey team didn’t subscribe to the idea that it was too much work to beat the Russians in 1980.  Or that your Great-Grandma didn’t decide to just bag the whole milking-the-cow-at-4 a.m-every-morning thing to provide for her family because it was a pain in the butt to crawl out of bed.  Whether its earning an education, excelling at a job, writing a novel, leading a country, or taking care of your health, nothing worth doing is easy.

And the No. 1 Queen-Mary-Mother-of All-Lame-Ass-Excuses for not exercising…

1. I don’t have time.

You really shouldn’t have brought this one up.  The amount of sympathy I can produce wouldn’t fill a flea’s teacup.

My wife, Holly, and I both have full-time jobs.  Mine is a 25-minute commute (one way) in good traffic;  her’s — an hour and a half.  We have three children under 13.  Two go to the same school, which is a 20-minute drive away from home.  The other goes to kindergarten at a different school that is 20-minutes from the first, which equals a nightmarish daily scenario of me or Holly scrambling to pick up someone before they turn into a pumpkin or we get charged a late fee, whichever comes first.  All the kids have extracurricular activities, including my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, of which Holly is leader.  We have no relatives within a seven-hour drive.  (Our circumstances have changed since I first wrote this, and now we have even LESS time.)

Shall I continue?  Because I can.

Holly and I find 4-6 hours per week to work out.  You can be effective at only around  20 minutes a day, so don’t give me “I don’t have time.”  Take an honest look at the things you do have time for, and then revisit your lame statement.  This is literally your EARTHLY BODY we’re talking about here.  The flesh and bone you will inhabit until the end of your days.  Joan Rivers (R.I.P.) and Kenny Rogers notwithstanding, we only get one body.  There’s time.  Make exercise a priority and you’ll find it.

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17 Responses to “The Top 10 Lame-Ass Reasons Not to Exercise”

  1. Lynn Foster says:

    No time to comment, Mark. I’m about to hit the floor for a few crunches, legs lifts and stretching before bed. GREAT article!

  2. Katy Taylor says:

    After reading #1 I’m wishing things didn’t have to be so stressful in your life, but I do admire your stick-to-itiveness with the exercise!

    • Mark Johnson says:

      I use those things to make a point, but I’m not complaining. I’m blessed. Katy, you are a wonderful example of someone who hasn’t given in to circumstances. You’re an inspiration. Don’t stop those walks up Mt. Jefferson!

      • Katy Taylor says:

        I know complaining is not in your nature. And I had no idea about your back surgery. No wonder you were laying around! Anyhow, I need to resume daily exercise like I was doing in 2010. I also hike up to one of the peaks on Grandfather about twice a year, and last weekend I biked 20 miles in Todd. I wish I had started a long time ago…

  3. Melissa church says:

    Love this! Very well said. Even walking a couple of miles with your dog or playing in the yard with your kids counts. Just get out and move!!

  4. Angie milner says:

    Mark you are so right and I’m sorry to say I fall into the excuse pattern myself.i feel I exercised so much more in Tn. Than I have since I have moved to this small southern il. Town. Not an excuse for why I have fallen to the way side but I have only met a couple of people who even remotely seem like they even care about their health since I have moved here .People talk about how bad Tn.folk eat but yet they have no idea how bad people eat in my area.I commute to college a total of 3 and1/2 hours 5 days a week and get up at 5 to make it on time .I don’t get out of class until 5:15 in the evening then my drive comes.i am seriously wiped out.i get home and deal with kids and supper and whatever needs to be done on that particular evening and then I have to study which usually starts at 9pm.i get about 4 and1/2 hours of sleep if I’m lucky . You are totally right about excuses and I agree yet I still feel like a walking zombie and can’t seem to find the time.I know I’m not living healthy and hope someday I can get myself together to get up and out of my pitty party and make myself push for a healthier me.i think a drill Sargent would be great for me!!!!

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Angie, I totally understand. It’s hard to consider adding yet another complication to an already complicated life, especially one that involves pain and sweat. What I can say is, when you add exercise to the mix, you somehow feel better about being so busy. It makes you feel more like the master of your life rather than a victim of it.

      You’ll find a way! I have confidence in you!

      • Ava Johnson says:

        Dad, great article!! I used to think exercising was just a waste of time, but it’s really worth it. It makes you feel GREAT about yourself, and it gives you something to brag about….. Good Job!!

        • Mark Johnson says:

          Let the record reflect two things: 1) All three of my kids — ages 5-12 — are participating in Crossfit classes. Huge pride all around on my part. And, 2) They refer to the title of this blog as “11 Lame-Donkey Reasons Not to Exercise.”

  5. KristinDC says:

    You published this on the exact day I started my fundamentals class at CrossFit. It scared the hell out of me, but I kept going back even though I could haved used any of the above excuses at any point. A year and a 30 pound weight loss later, I can’t imagine ever going back to a sedentary life style! I also read your 12 things you hate article….I thought I would die laughing. Thanks for such great blogs!

  6. it’s disappointing that you had to go the route of shaming rather than encouraging. the entire tone/general attitude of this writing piece is terrible. this is a very tender subject for a lot of people, and every single thing on your list could have easily been worded MUCH better. insisting that anyone who is happy with themselves as a heavier person is lying, or that anyone who is apprehensive about beginning a weight loss journey’s biggest problem is “stupidity” is completely non-productive.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Sweet Caroline, thanks for your thoughtful comment, and I’m sorry you had a negative reaction to this piece. There are a couple of things I’ll say in my own defense.

      First, and I believe, most obvious, is that anyone who expects the article to be a hand-holding, sensitive, gentle, politically-correct, Kumbaya moment probably wouldn’t make it past the title. This is meant to be a rather in-your-face opinion piece and it’s meant to be a little combative. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

      Secondly, one of the overriding points is that many people who are fit because they exercise didn’t begin their journey as a former professional athlete or even a naturally thin person. They began as an average Joe (or Josephine) who finally got fed up with where their life was heading and decided to do something about it.

      I believe that too many of the world’s problems are a result of people not being honest with themselves or being so concerned about hurting one another’s feelings that they blind themselves to the truth. The fact is, our country is eating and sitting itself to death. Speaking for myself, in most of my adult life, I’ve been overweight, inactive, unhealthy and saddled terrible chronic back problems. I’ve been at a point where I believed I could never do anything physical or feel good about myself physically EVER AGAIN. It may be, Sweet Caroline, that sensitivity is not necessarily what a helluva lot of people really need to turn their lives around and avoid serious pitfalls that political correctness won’t be to cure — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and an overall crappy quality of life, to name a few.

      When I wrote this article, I wrote it mainly as a wake-up call to many of the people I work with — who are my good friends — because I care about them and want to see them turn things around before they’ve gone past the point of no return. In simple terms, it’s called “tough love.” It may not work for you, and you certainly have a right to your opinion, as I do to mine.

      With that said, I still appreciate you spending time on my site, and I hope you understand that “shaming” people is not my objective. Best of luck to you, Sweet Caroline!

  7. jimmie gabel says:

    I love this article. I have always made it a point to exercise and eat healthy (for the most part). I often hear remarks inferring that I am just naturally fit and lucky and their lives are so busy that they don’t have time. It makes me crazy. I have for kids, work full time as does my husband (who won’t work out but I can’t imagine being like #10 and letting him take that away from me). He does not discourage me because he likes the benefit of having a buff wife, but I digress. Back to my point. For years I went to the gym at 5 am so that it didn’t interfere with my family activities. Two of my kids have left the nest so I have a little more flexibility to vary my schedule but bottom line is there is always time. When I can’t get to the gym I pull an at home workout from an app or go for a run. Yeah there is a self consciousness about stepping into a gym out of shape and is hard and not always fun but don’t look for sympathy here and don’t try to make me out as being lucky or somehow the exception to the rule. I’m an average Jane who takes responsibility for my own health and doesnt make excuses. Sorry if I came off as harsh but I hate the assumption that being fit comes easy to a select few and the rest are poor souls who cannot achieve it so why even try. Keep up the great articles. They are like snapshots of my life.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Jimmie, I know it’s been a long time since you posted your comment, but for some reason, I never replied. It’s awesome, and you certainly don’t come off as harsh — at least not in comparison with me. Thanks for the inspiring words!


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