Today, We Shoot Down Excuses

When it comes to eating and exercising, people are quick to produce an excuse – any excuse – explaining why they can’t do it. Coming up with excuses may be pretty easy, but I find shooting them down to be even easier.

I don’t have access to a gym.
You don’t need one. The Prison Workout can be done where you are standing. You can use the outside world as your gym. If bodyweight exercises aren’t enough, make your own gym equipment: DIY sandbags, slosh tubes, medicine balls.

I don’t have enough time to workout.
If you’ve got 15 minutes you’ve got enough time.

I don’t know where to start.
You do now:

I can’t afford healthy foods.
Sure you can. Organ meat is cheap and incredibly nutritious. Or try the Depression Diet. Heck, even organics are affordable, if you know how to do it. Even healthy cuts of meat can be had on a budget: grass fed meat options, thrift cuts. If you’re the ambitious type, save money on quality meat by buying wholesale. And here are some more tips for good measure.

I hate working out.
Don’t think working out has to mean jogging on a treadmill for miles and miles. Stop with the chronic cardio and start tricking yourself into working out.

I’m injured and can’t workout.
If you can walk without assistance, you can still workout.

Whenever I try to start the new plan I get overwhelmed and fail, so why even bother?

Take baby steps and you’ll discover it’s absolutely worth the effort. Ease into it. Cut carbs slowly if you’re used to eating a ton of them. Slowly ramp up activity levels. Finally, connect with a support group – like MDA! If you haven’t already, check out the #primal Twitter group for more support and recipe ideas.

My habits are deeply rooted and there is no way out.
I’d bet that your Primal genetics are even more deeply rooted than your bad habits. There are ways to break bad habits and ways to develop good ones.

There are too many social distractions. My family just doesn’t understand…
Don’t give in to the mob mentality. And if your family doesn’t quite get it just yet, just let it go. Your results will speak for themselves.

I hate structured, planned workout regimens.

Hey, I understand where you’re coming from, which is why I play instead. Or why not try a totally spontaneous workout?

I can’t seem to break through and see any additional results. It’s frustrating and makes me want to give up.
If you get stuck, there are little tweaks and hacks you can apply to jump start the progress. Or maybe you just need some extra motivation.

I don’t know how to cook.
I bet you can, and you just don’t know it. Anyone can broil fish, for example. And instead of launching into 20-step recipes, why not start with Primal dishes that can be made in 15 minutes or less? 15 Minutes too long? How about 2 minutes?

I don’t know exactly what to eat.
That’s the fun of it! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

I feel like “going Primal” is an all or nothing proposition.
Not in the least. Every little change counts. 60% Primal is better than nothing. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I’ve seen Mark’s beach sprints. There is no way I could do that.
There are other forms of HIIT. It doesn’t have to be beach sprints – almost any intense exercise will get the job done. Find the one that works for you. Besides, I bet after a couple bouts with those, you’ll be ready for the sprints.

I recently gave up carbs, and now I have no energy during the day.
This is normal. Your body’s just transitioning to using fat as energy. Give it a few more days and you’ll become acclimated. If drowsiness is an ongoing problem, maybe you need more sleep.

I keep stress eating, going back to the carby stuff. I know it’s bad, but it makes me feel better.
You need to de-stress – but not with bad food. You might feel better in the short term, but you’ll feel terrible, bloated, and guilty in a couple hours. Why not look to other ways to remove stress from your life? Try meditation, Primal play, or even a glass of red wine.

Post this on your fridge. In times of weakness, or if you ever feel an excuse coming on, reference it. You’ll always have an excuse for not working out or not eating right, but I’ll always be here, ready to shoot that excuse down.

Share your best excuses and get ready to have them shot down in the comment board!

Further Reading:

Primal Bloggers Around the Net

Act “As If” – A 30 Day Primal Health Challenge

The Best of 2008

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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25 thoughts on “Today, We Shoot Down Excuses”

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  1. Okay, here’s how it builds: I can’t workout without music. My iPod bounces around in my pocket during interval sprints, therefore I can’t workout unless I have an iPod armband. But I’m too cheap to spend $30 on one at Best Buy and too impatient to buy one on eBay. Therefore, I cannot workout. How’s that for lamest excuse ever?

  2. My excuses generally involve my family – I don’t want anyone to have to cook something “special” for me for dinner. I feel bad when I add twice the amount to a grocery list to ensure I get the “proper” foods. I feel guilty being gone all day and as soon I get home rushing off to work exercise.
    It was months of excuses, generally these, before I made arrangements with my family (since, even from the beginning they were always supportive) to assuage my guilt. Now family dinners are meat + veggie that we will all eat, and they can add a potato/rice/pasta on the side if they want. I workout with part of my family. I keep my grocery shopping clear/concise. Now, no more excuses (except for, maybe, on my birthday 😉 ).

  3. My toughest one is eating out (mostly weekends with friends) – even if I don’t order anything straight up against the PB, I get concerned there are hidden ingredients that totally blow it. Then it comes to the social excuse…

  4. Great article, this.

    Already printed and on my fridge.

    There are now no more (good) excuses to not do what I know I should (and want) to do. Eat right, stay active and GET PRIMAL!

  5. The one I find it hardest to shoot down is this:

    “I know I will be ill when I am older, but I don’t care – when I am older I will be glad I had fun when I was young.”

    My best shot is always to say this:

    “You don’t know how you will feel when you are older. When you were 15 did you know how you would feel today? Illness will make you regret, I promise.”

  6. Excellent post! I’ve been a lurker here for about a month, and this post, with links to the others is exactly what I was looking for!

    Hopefully I can convince my girlfriend that eating LESS grains (against the advice of her trainer) is a good thing!

    1. I hope this trainer is a certified nutricianist, Cuase a training can get in serious trouble telling clients about a nutrient regime, Its one of the first things trainers learn. Its illegal, tell your girlfriend that and her trainer is not qualified and she should only seek diet advice from someone certified.

  7. For me, my excuses come in the form of illness. Like today, its a beautiful day outside, and I really want to go for a run and do some weights. Instead I have a killer sinus migraine. I took meds, that make me sleepy and take the edge off so I can do really unco-ordinated things, like vacuum, and housework.

    I hate migraines. Tomorrow, when its planning on raining, I’ll probably feel awesome and itchin to get outside.

  8. I never had an excuse until now. Now I have a list of them! Thanks for enabling me Mark! 😉

    My favorite lame excuse is the “I’ll start next week. That way I can give it 100%”

    The SoG

  9. Here’s what I struggle with:
    I don’t have the energy to work out on weekdays. My job is mentally demanding, stressful and draining. This kills my motivation to exercise during the week. The weekends are no problem. I’m just trying to figure out how to clear that motivation hurdle during the week!

  10. Uh… my excuse is that I don’t have a metal door to my fridge, so I can’t hang anything on the front of it with a magnet. Hurr hurrr….

    I’m terrible actually – I don’t even let myself get to the excuses stage, I just don’t even think about it, full stop.

    I need to get off my chuff and do it though – I have weight that’s not shifting…..

  11. I planned NOT to work out for a week, skipped volleybal practice and even said no to my favorate ultimate frisbee.

    but I ended up walking more than usual every day! LOL (I wandered in some small towns near by , took walks with friends along the river, visited a friend who’s recovering from his surgery and ended up taking a long walk with him in the woods….and shopping!!)

    I guess I should plan some more resting and I’ll be working out even more. haha

    but I think it’s partly due to the beautiful weather. it’s just unthinkable to stay in bed at home all day when the sun is shining so bright out!

    btw. thanks mark, I love ur blog.
    ur explaination of insulin and diabetes and health had helped me to convince my dad to cut down his carb intake for his own good..(he’s high with cholesterole and had an heart attack last year…and low fat high carb diet obviously isn’t working)

  12. One of the things I love best about MDA is not only all of the great information, but also how timely posts seem to appear! It’s as if you can see me through the PC and just peg the sloth in me! I like the little reminders as I work on going Primal, it helps keep me focused as well as reminding me of what I’m working toward.

  13. I can relate to this article as I know from first hand experience just how hard it is to lose weight, and to maintain it. I wrote a book called Alone in the Storm, which has recently been published, and it is about an overweight woman who subconsciously put on the weight to protect herself from being hurt by love. She struggles with her weight issues, and in the end she manages to overcome them, but not before she learns some important lessons about herself and life.

    Carla Cunningham, Published Book Author of Alone in the Storm
    The website for my book is –

  14. My first visit here, great post.

    I think it would be great if we could redefine what people think of as a “workout.”

    It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes in the gym, moving from machine to machine (I’d kill myself if that was still my idea of a workout, so I can understand people’s trepidation if they have to gear up for that dismal nightmare). It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of soul-crushing cardio machines (unless you like it). It doesn’t have to be complicated or regimented to the degree that it sucks any and all enjoyment out of it.

    It can be a quick calisthenic workout. It can be windsprints and pushups at the nearby high-school football field. It can be ten 2-minute rounds on the heavy bag plus some floor work (and maybe a round or two of jump rope). It can be a 45 minute hike on nearby trails or hilly streets. It can be you, your dog, some hand held weights and something you TiVo’d off of FiTV. It can be just about anything that is rigorous.

    I think it would also be great if we were to redefine what “fit” is. It’s not about six pack abs, arms like the first lady and an ass like Jessica Biel (although all of these are, shall I say, “nice”). “Fit” is about being able to run a mile and do 50 pushups without dying. “Fit” is about healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, about being strong and capable and healthy. “Fit” is about being able to thrown the ball around with your kid in the back yard.

    And, the irony is, if we were to fixate on the health aspects instead of the aesthetic by eating properly and exercising consistently, we would probably look really good as a byproduct of our lifestyle.

    Again, great post.

  15. My best excuse is that I am afraid I might die. My body makes zero cortisol which is a bad thing.

    I haven’t worked out in months but I decided there is no excuse. So, I’ll be heading back to the gym shortly, starting slow.

  16. “I’m injured and can’t workout.
    If you can walk without assistance, you can still workout.”

    Gee, Mark, it’s not always that simple. For example, this whole post made me feel terribly for not being able to work out right now. I’d love to, but, you see, if I work out right now, it could kill my unborn baby because I’m strictly on bedrest, probably for the next three months.

    I normally love your posts, but today you come off as very condescending, and I sincerely hope that people who shouldn’t take your advice can get past your attempted guilt trip and ignore it.

    Working out is normally good during pregnancy, if you do it right… but some problems can occur that can make a simple workout deadly for a baby.

  17. I never have an excuse, i’m always ready to exercise because i actually really truly enjoy it!
    My ShihTzu is a couch potato and when i say wanna go walk in the park, she’s always wanting to go, she loves exercise, too.
    I work out, then later in the day i’ll go on a walk in the park, i have so much energy i just keep going all day!

  18. I love this post!! My excuse yesterday was that I simply didn’t feel like going to the gym, but I did end up taking my puppy for a 30 minute walk so I think that counts.

    I am saving this one in my arsenal. So many people ask me what to eat and how to exercise and this post links up to all of it!! Cheers!

  19. Carly, don’t take the post personally, there are always exceptions to anything someone might say. Obviously a high risk pregnancy is an exception, and I doubt anyone who had been told to NOT exercise would go ahead and do it just because Mark made them feel bad about it. His words are directed at the general population as encouragement & motivation, not condescension. Would his suggestions make you feel this way if you had read them a year ago? Best of luck with your pregnancy, I know how scary your situation can be, my mom was on bedrest for 3 months with quadruplets and it was not fun at all.

    Back on topic – My biggest excuses for not exercising are being in chronic pain (I hate the word fibromyalgia, but that’s pretty much what it is), and my very geek-focused lifestyle. My husband and I fit the stereotypical sedentary-geeks-who-loathe-sports mold, and I allow his utter disinterest in exercise to stop me from engaging in it myself. I was never athletic, so exercising, especially alone, makes me feel like such. a. dork.

    The best exercise we get is our excursions to take photos, lots of walking, sunshine, and I get a lot of squats in just from having to go up & down with the camera to get the angles I want. But it’s not nearly enough. =(

    Thanks for the motivation, Mark. I see blue sky & fluffy clouds out of my basement window, time to say goodbye to the keyboard and get some fresh air.

  20. “I drove to the gym but I couldn’t find a parking place near the door so I drove home again” (I bet Mr Korg says that)

    Today I took my 93 year old mother for a walk round a massive nature reserve. It was hard going in places as her one remaining good eye makes it difficult to judge lumpy ground. But she made it, it took about an hour.

    Meanwhile I clenched my buttocks, did some silly walks etc. to hit a few other muscles. Actually walking really really slowly is quite hard work especially with a wobbly old lady hanging off your arm.

    Tomorrow I shall do some more intensive walking and hit the garden again. You’d think she’d be pining for the Comfy Chair but no she’s just got up again, I think she’s doing washing up ready for me to cook (salmon and spinach and toasted almonds)

    Not altogether sure I want to live to be 93 but I want to stay active up to the end. I have a pretty good role model there . . .

  21. My favorite excuse is, but I just spent 10 hours climbing trees, wielding a chainsaw and moving brush by hand. Do you really think its necessary. Actually at the end of the day I love to go for a bike ride just to wind down. Nice post.

  22. Broseph’s excuse reminds me a lot of my cousin, who actually did use music as an excuse not to do things. “I can’t fall asleep without music!” “I can’t take a bath without my music!”, etc. She’s better now.

    Anyway, I did my first workout today! I feel like total crap afterward (think I completely trashed my limbs for the week), but it was worth it. I’ve gotten a good assessment of my limitations now (I can not do hopscotch after push-ups; my knees gave out and I took a foot to the crotch), and I know that even if it makes me feel lousy, I can live through it. The fact that I only have to do it for about twenty minutes once a week helps out, too.

    Here’s the weird part, though: I wanted to do it, and kept trying to think of any reason good enough to procrastinate. The body was willing, but the mind was not – a startling reversal of my typical motivations. Over the next week, I’ll be working hard to try and keep my body that enthused – I think the daily walks I’ve been taking have helped.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I probably wouldn’t have done that today if not for your blog. You have taught me three things: that exercise doesn’t have to take a long time, that a little goes a long way, and that a good bit of pain can be a lot of fun in small doses.