What the “No Excuses” Mentality Means to Me

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You see it all over social media. The “no excuses” attitude towards exercise and fitness. Too busy to work out? No excuses. Don’t have access to workouts or a gym? No excuses. Broken leg? No excuses. Chronic Illness? No excuses.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy exercise and have the utmost respect for those who prioritize their fitness. I am in complete awe of those who make a point to work out, even if it means waking up at 4am or running 5 miles on their lunch break. And I really do believe physical activity plays an important role in living a well-rounded, healthy life. But why does it have to be so intense? Why does it have to be all or nothing? And what about those who are physically unable to exercise? Are they any less worthy of respect and admiration than those who are? no excuses

Before my chronic illnesses flared up and caused me to go on medical leave from grad school last fall, I exercised at least 3 times a week. My symptoms were manageable, and exercise was a great escape from the craziness that is grad school. I would go to yoga classes, lift weights, even go on (short) runs with my dog. No, it didn’t control my life, and I didn’t do it every single day, but it was still a big part of my life. However, when my symptoms got to the point where I was in bed more often than not, my desire and ability to exercise quickly diminished. I barely had the energy to take care of essential daily tasks like going to class, making food, and taking a shower. How on earth could I be expected to work out too?

Even now, 6 months after going on medical leave, I still don’t work out much. On an exceptionally good day, I’m able to function like a normal human, ride my horse, run errands, and maybe go on a walk. And that’s a lot for me. I do have a gym membership and plan on using it more once my symptoms are more under control. Being recently diagnosed with another condition, and thus starting new meds, I’m hoping I start to improve enough to go beyond just functioning and potentially start heading to the gym regularly again. As I mentioned before, I do love exercise and I think it’s important. However, dealing with chronic illnesses that have limited my physical abilities has completely changed my relationship with exercise. no excuses

My New Relationship with Exercise

I was raised by athletes. Literally, my mom was a professional volleyball player (and a total badass). So exercise and sports have always been a big part of my life. I played just about every sport growing up and was always relatively healthy. When I got to college, however, I didn’t really play sports anymore. I was still pretty active, going to the gym on and off, hiking, and competing on the rodeo team. But I also ate super poorly and just overall didn’t take care of myself. I would go through periods of “Okay, I’m going to get so healthy and lose weight and look incredible and I’ll be amazing.” During these periods, I would eat all the vegetables, cut out “bad” foods, and obsessively go to the gym. And I’d ALWAYS overdo it. Yes, being sore is a sign of a good workout, but not being able to function normally for a week after lifting too heavy and doing too much cardio is not normal. I was the “all or nothing” type of person when it came to working out and living a “healthy” lifestyle.

When my symptoms got to the point that I could barely function last fall, I had to drop exercise. It just didn’t seem important to me anymore. Being able to just take care of my responsibilities and basic needs became the priority, understandably. Today, this is still my priority, but I am (slowly) starting to try to incorporate more physical activity into my life. I am no longer an “all or nothing” type of person when it comes to working out or living a healthy lifestyle. I simply take it day by day and try to do my best to listen to what my body needs. no excuses

My Problem with the Current “No Excuses” Mentality

All over social media I keep seeing the “no excuses” exercise mentality. And it’s frustrating to me. I understand people wanting to others to live their best, healthiest lives. I get that to most healthy people, exercise is a big part of that. And I also understand that some people DO make excuses when they simply don’t want to deal with working out. But who cares? It’s their life and they can live it how they please.

What I don’t understand or appreciate is the need to shame or pressure people into working out or living a certain lifestyle. There’s a sense of ableism to this idea that you should feel guilty if you do not work out. It’s rather ignorant to assume that those who have a legitimate reason to not be in the gym are just making “excuses”. I know most people who use and share these ideas are not intending to target the chronically ill or disabled community for not exercising. In fact, a large portion of these communities include exercise practices in their daily lives. However, not everyone can or does. And that’s okay!

I am a firm believer in living YOUR best life, in doing what’s best for YOU. And what is best for you may not be best for someone else. If exercise is what is best for you, that’s wonderful and be grateful for your ability to do so. If your go-to exercise is a spin class or Orange Theory, that’s great and props to you. Same goes for if your workout of choice is a restorative yoga class or walking your dog. And if you are choosing not to exercise right now, there’s nothing wrong with that! As long as you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself (physically, mentally, and emotionally), you are doing enough. Regardless of what you are or are not able to do YOU ARE ENOUGH. There is absolutely no need to feel guilty for not exercising. And there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be guilting you into exercising. And there is absolutely no excuse for shaming others for not exercising. no excuses

My New “No Excuses” Attitude

While I may not be into the “no excuses” workout mentality, I am all about “no excuses” self-care. And self-care means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. When most people think of self-care, they think face masks, massages, superfoods, etc. But that’s not all there is to it. To me, true self-care is being mindful of what your body, mind, and spirit need every day. Some days that might mean taking a nap and resting. Other days self-care might require taking care of responsibilities and being super productive. Sometimes, self-care means eating vegetables and going to the gym. It’s all dependent on what YOU need that day. If you need to go to the gym or a workout class, do that. If you need to check some things off your to-do list or meet a certain deadline, do that. Self-care is SO much more than exercise, eating right, and pampering yourself. Self-care is such a personal practice, but I also believe it’s a “no excuses” thing.

I’m going to challenge you right now. Every day, I want you to take a few moments to really listen to your body and listen to yourself and think, “Okay, what do I need to live my best life today? What do I need to do to care for myself?” Whatever it is you need to do, do it. Even if that means making a dreaded doctor’s appointment or going to bed early, challenge yourself to take the best possible care of your entire being every day.

So I want to know, what are your current self-care practices? Comment below and let me know!

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22 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I loved reading your post Shannon ( as always do ), I have several chronic illnesses, over time I have come to realize that this means that my ‘normal’ just doesn’t look the same as someone else’s, and that I have to accept the days when I just need to rest and drop the guilt over not being able to exercise. I am slowly becoming more mindful and listening to my body, it’s a process but the shift in my attitude is helping to heal my mental and physical well being.

    1. Thank you so much Lisa! It’s definitely an adjustment to realize your normal isn’t the same as others, or as your own used to be. And that’s something I’ve struggled with for a while now. But I, too, am learning that honoring my body and its limits are best for my physical and mental wellbeing as well! Thank you so much for reading!

  2. Your drive is amazing. I can completely agree about people expecting and basically demanding that others live the way they think is healthier. I think everyone should just do what it best for them and live their lives the best way they can.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. We’re all just trying to live our best lives, and I think a big part of that is not trying to force others to live YOUR best life!

  3. I used to totally be no excuses! Sick, tired, sore, didn’t matter. But now, as I’m older and realizing that the magic happens while you rest, I’m all about rest, listening to your body, doing both light and heavy exercise, walking, taking in the fresh air, and overall wellness in general. It really makes a diff!

  4. YES YES YES! I relate to this so much. It really is about respecting your body and figuring out what it right for you ❤️

  5. I think you have a great attitude towards this new phase in your life and how exercise works into that. Everything takes time but it’s all about progress!

    1. Thank you so much! It’s really interesting to see how my relationship with exercise has changed as my circumstances have changed. It’s constantly evolving and that’s pretty neat if you ask me

  6. I think it’s best to do what you think fit. There are too many people who judge and try to influence others but it shouldn’t be that way at all. Do you and i’ll do me, right?

    1. I totally agree! Everyone’s different when it comes to what is best for them physically, and it’s all about finding what works for you. And letting others do the same!

  7. Great article but I think your mom probably pushed the no excuses attitude when you were growing up. (I can say that-I’m the badass mom!). People are judgmental but it is often caused by ignorance and misunderstanding. Your outlook is amazing. Keep up the good work.

  8. i used to over exercise a lot because of this mentality to the point that i got sick! yay! listening to your body is really important and find the balance of when and how often to do it is so relevant.

    1. I’m so sorry you got sick! But I agree. Listening to your body and finding what works for you is super important!

  9. Oh I fully agree Shannon! I’ve written a blog post about the same topic years ago, called “Why The “Stop Making Excuses” Slogans Annoy Me”. Sometimes you can have all the motivation and strong will in the world, but it’s just not enough. Inspiration is good, shaming others is definitely not. Thanks for pointing this out!

    1. I’ll check out your post as well! Thank you so much for reading. But I totally agree. You can be the most motivated person in the world, but if your body or your circumstances say no, you have to listen.

  10. Great post to read – I am trying to get in the mindset of no excuses. A few months ago, I sprained my ankle and it took til now to heal, I still notice how weak it is when trying to exercise, but I did use it as an excuse to not get myself back into the habit of working out, not just for weight reasons, but for my overall health and spirit

    1. I’m so glad exercise is something that makes you feel better mentally and emotionally as well! I know that’s not always the case for me. I’m definitely more of a “slow walk on the beach” kind of girl. But I also know movement of some kind, especially outside, will make me feel better! All about that self care! I hope your ankle is healing up!

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