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10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Skip Your Workout

Don't Give Up Just Yet!

By

Updated May 23, 2014

Deciding to exercise sometime in the future is easy. In fact, you often make that decision when you’re rested, energetic and motivated. What happens when the time comes to actually do it? You may hear a little voice in your head saying, “I’m so tired and I’d much rather sleep in than exercise. Um, maybe I could do it later.”

Skipping your workout may be the right decision, especially if you’re sick or injured. Other times, there isn’t a good reason, but that voice in your head just won’t stop. Before you skip your workout, there are a few questions to ask yourself that may help you make the right choice.

1. Will I regret this decision?

Maybe it would feel good to stay in bed and sleep or go home from work without the hassle of going to the gym, but how will you feel later? Instant gratification can be rewarding, but that good feeling often wears off, leaving you feeling guilty and wishing you’d made a different choice. Thinking about the consequences may push you to make the right decision. Remind yourself that:
  • Exercise is a choice, not a jail sentence. Knowing you're in charge of what you do may nudge you in the right direction.
  • Exercise is a commitment you make every day. Some days you're more committed than others, so draw on your discipline to get you out the door.
  • Every day is different. You may have to work harder sometimes to get motivated.

2. How much have I exercised this week?

Look back at what you’ve done this week and ask yourself if you can afford a day off from exercise. If it’s the end of the week and you’ve worked out every day, you may need a day off to let your body recover and reenergize. If it’s been a few days, however, ask yourself if skipping workouts is starting to become a habit. Will skipping another workout make it even harder to get back on track tomorrow?

Now is a good time to start an exercise calendar to keep track of your workouts. Print out a monthly calendar and write down the workouts you’ve done and the workouts you plan to do. Keep it nearby so you can look at it whenever the urge to skip strikes.

3. How will I make up for my missed workout?

Imagine that you do skip your workout. Now ask yourself how you’ll make up for it. Will you do it later, maybe after work or before bed? Or will you get up early tomorrow and workout extra long? Visualize that and ask yourself if you’ll really do it -- or if you’re setting yourself up for failure.

If you do change your schedule, decide you can workout later only if you prepare for it ahead of time. For post-work exercise, pack your gym bag before you leave or get out your equipment and clothes so you can change as soon as you get home. If you’re exercising the next morning, put your workout clothes next to the bed and write down your workout plan. Put the note on top of your clothes so you won’t skip it tomorrow.

4. Do I have a legitimate reason to skip this workout?

Sometimes, skipping a workout is the best idea. If you’re sick, tired or injured, you may need to rest. If it’s a matter of motivation, think about or write down anything that might motivate you such as:
  • All of the benefits of exercise
  • Imagine all the people working out right now. If they can do it, so can you
  • Think of how good you’ll feel when you’ve finished your workout
  • Remember that getting started is the hardest part. Commit to doing your warm up. If you can get that far, you'll keep going
  • Picture yourself putting on those jeans that haven’t fit in awhile
  • Think of a future vacation or event you’d like to lose weight for

Keep trying until you find something that works and then keep your list handy for the next time.

5. How will missing this workout affect my goals?

If you’re trying to lose weight, how important is this workout? Exercising burns calories, builds endurance and improves strength. If you skip it, none of that will happen. Maybe missing one day won’t hurt but, remember, it’s the accumulation of your workouts that leads to success. Try these ideas:
  • Remember your goals. Write them down and remember when you set them. Even if the urgency isn’t the same, it may be enough to get you started.
  • Get some support. Have a friend email a workout reminder or tell someone about your goals so you’re held accountable.
  • Set new goals. If your goals aren’t motivating right now, set a new goal to complete your workout that day. Making your goals smaller may help you reach them.

6. What could I do to make my workout more appealing?

If you’re dreading the coming workout, having something to look forward to may get you moving. Some ideas:
  • Try a long warm up. Knowing you’ll have plenty of time to get ready for exercise may make it easier to get started.
  • A new playlist. The right music makes any workout more fun. Download new music or create a playlist. Put your favorite song first to start your workout on the right foot.
  • Try a long cool down. Spend extra time stretching after your workout to end things on a good note.
  • Workout with a friend. If you’re dragging, ask a friend to workout with you. Having to show up is motivation all by itself.
  • Talk about it. Everyone struggles from time to time. Join the exercise forum to get new perspectives on your workouts.

7. How could I reward myself for doing my workout?

When it comes to exercise, a little reward goes a long way towards motivation. If you’re having trouble getting started, think of how you could reward yourself for a job well done. Some ideas:
  • Sitting in a hot tub or hot bath after your workout
  • Time to read your favorite book or watch your favorite TV show
  • A massage
  • A night out with friends
  • Going to a movie
  • Time to play your favorite video or computer game
  • A new workout outfit
You deserve a reward for working hard and if it motivates you to finish your workout, it's worth it.

8. How could I change my workout?

If you’re thinking of ditching your workout because you woke up late or had to work longer than usual, don’t skip the whole thing. Think of creative ways to get in a short, effective workout that will get the job done. If you have 10 or 15 minutes, try an intense interval workout. Warm up with a brisk walk and then alternate high intensity sprints or speedwalking for 30 seconds with recovery walks for 30 seconds. Choose a few whole body exercises like pushups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks or cross-country shuffles and go through a circuit, doing each one for a minute. Other workout ideas:

9. How will skipping my workout affect my day?

Your workout isn’t just important for burning calories, it can affect every part of your day, both physically and mentally. Remind yourself that getting in your workout will:
  • Give you more energy
  • Improve your confidence and self-satisfaction
  • Start your day on the right foot
  • Help you concentrate better
  • Help you get more things done
  • Allow you to actively re-commit to your goals
Exercise is one of the few things you can do that seep into all areas of your life. Just a few minutes and a little sweat will pay off in the long run.

10. What stands in the way of my workout?

Identify the thoughts stopping you from exercise and work through each one logically. Some common thoughts:
  • "I’m too tired." After working all day, your mind is tired, but your body will feel better once it starts moving.
  • "I’m too hungry." Have some yogurt or a sports drink. You’ll get an immediate infusion of energy to make it to the gym.
  • "I don’t feel like it." Don't wait until you feel like it, because that may not happen. Once you get started, you’ll be more excited about your workout.
  • "I have too much to do." You'll get more done if you put fitness first. Even a short workout is worth doing.
  • "I'll do it later." It’s harder to workout when life gets hectic. Get your workout in early to guarantee your success.
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