The Time Excuse


“I just don’t have time,” is a phrase I frequently hear when it comes to weight loss and fitness.

A busy mom tells me she doesn’t have time to exercise, a man tells me his work is too demanding to prepare healthy meals, and all sorts of people give me the “time” excuse for every conceivable healthy lifestyle choice.

Frankly, I way I most often answer this excuse is with this phrase:

You don’t have time not to.

That’s really the truth isn’t it? With obesity increasing at a rampant rate and children struggling with their weight like never before, none of us has time not to do our best to live a healthy lifestyle.

When I was barely able to walk to my mailbox without getting winded I used every excuse in the book to not exercise. It was too tiring, I didn’t have time, childcare was an issue, I didn’t have the right clothes to wear, etc. Those excuses only held me back.

The truth was that time or childcare wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was that I did not want to exercise.

I did the same thing with other areas of healthy living. I didn’t feel as though I had time to cook a proper meal so we went to McDonald’s or a sit-down restaurant. The truth was that by the time I gathered all the paraphernalia that the kids needed, loaded them up in the car, drove to the restaurant, unloaded the kids, waited for a table, got our food, ate our food, and drove back home, I could have easily prepared a healthy meal for us. Again, the truth was that I didn’t really want to cook, so I used lack of time as an excuse.

We are all really busy, but we are not busy enough to fail to take care of ourselves and our families.

Using time as an excuse to not make the changes you need to make is like saying that you are not worth the effort it takes to make time for yourself.

For most of us, it does takes some tweaking of our schedules to make time to get in exercise or make sure we get our food plan lined up for the week. I know it did for me.

I had to ask John to leave 30 minutes later every morning when possible so I could get in my walk before my 6 year old, 3 year old, and baby got up for the day. When he couldn’t do that, I loaded them up in a stroller and went anyway. It turns out that I did have time to exercise, it just took some effort, which I had never expended before.

As far as healthy cooking goes, I had plenty of time to plan and prepare meals, I just didn’t do it. It seemed too hard. Once I committed to changing the way we ate, I found that I actually did have time. (Then I had to learn to cook healthy foods, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

I’d encourage you to examine your thoughts and feelings when it comes to time management. Are you putting less important things ahead of your health? If you have ever used the time excuse, you are not alone. I still do it sometimes and I have to stop myself and remember that I don’t have time not to.

How do you overcome the time excuse? Do you have any strategies you use to make sure you are protecting your health? Diane

26 thoughts on “The Time Excuse

  1. blackhuff says:

    I make a conscious decision to plan my time ahead for exercising. I find that early mornings work best for me because then it’s out of the way and the rest of the day can fall as it wants to.

  2. Dr. J says:

    I’ve always found the time to workout!

    The only exceptions have been when I had to work all night at the hospital or was on an international flight. Not claiming sanity here 🙂

  3. sarah says:

    i have had to come to terms with my need to become a morning person, which was not easy. my husband and i have to get up at 5 to work out before the kids wake up for me and before he has to head to work. Its really hard but we are making progress. And I know that if I “swallow my frog” first and knock it out of the way first thing, I’ll feel like the rest of the day is a success. Plus, we’ve both found we eat better the rest of the day. As far as cooking–meal planning and doing a buch of freezer meals every once in a while have been instrumental. Also streamlining my kitchen to make using fresh produce easier (for instance, I installed a butcher block counter over my island so i can chop away much easier) has streamlined everything.

  4. Jody - Fit at 55 says:

    I am lucky enough o belong to a 24 hour gym BUT they were not always around when I was first working out. I worked 60+ hour weeks & still had to work out after work & do errands. It is hard stuff to fit it all in. With 24 hour gyms, it helps me BUT it still is a juggling act & you have to want it bad enough to make sacrifices….. that is life…

  5. Laura Jane says:

    So true, I think we make time for what is important. While working full time there were some days where I truly did not have a spot in my schedule to work out. However, the ridiculous thing is that I used those days that occurred maybe once or twice a week as an excuse not to work out on the other 5 or 6 days that I could! Also, it’s helpful to decide what you are going to cut out of your schedule if you plan to spend more time exercising and preparing meals. When you decide to add something, purposely decide what you want to give up – don’t just assume that somehow you will make it work. That helped me to let go of the guilt of the various things I wasn’t able to accomplish while spending time working out and preparing meals.

  6. Joe says:

    One of the biggest excuses in the book is not having enough time. Once you schedule things out you realize how much time you have in a day. An hour workout can be penciled in and in 30 minutes you can cook a meal.

  7. Shannon says:

    This is the easiest excuse of all. Life is busy it just is. We just have to decide when it is time to just do it and make time for our health. Unfortunately that has noting to do with actual time 😉

  8. Kara says:

    I happily spend anywhere from two to three hours on an afternoon weekend preparing lunches and snacks for the week (grocery shopping not included). I wash lettuce, prepare sandwiches, puree fruit, premeasure oatmeal, hummus, carrots, snack for kid etc into single serving containers. Each morning I spend anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes assembling the lunches for my son, my hubby and myself.

    I see this food preparation time as time for me rather than a big chore to get through. There is the added bonus that I know that we are all eating quality snacks and lunches. Somewhere along the line I lost the taste for premade meals from grocery stores and food courts and I prefer food I bring from home.

    If you can change your mindset, you will no longer need to make excuses!

  9. Janis says:

    I walk at work during my lunch hour and eat lunch at my desk. Not a huge walk, and it’s not exactly a sweating workout (only somewhere between 1.5 and 2mi a day), but I really like it. Doing it at lunch meant that it already fit into a pre-existing gap in my day, so I didn’t really have to “make time.”

    I’ve found that there are fewer things easier to do than cook at home, although I do tend to get lazy regarding even that sometimes when I want to be at the piano. On those nights, I’ve started getting a big microwave steamer pot and throwing a bunch of fresh vegetables in it. Ten minutes later, with almost no cleanup at all, I’ve got asparagus, cauliflower, whatever in there, ready to bolt and get back to music. Otherwise, a crock pot is the best thing on Earth — with a plastic liner, there’s ZERO cleanup. Put stuff in it in the morning, turn it on, by evening, it’s done. Boom. Crock pots are your best friend.

  10. Lisa says:

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves. My response: If you want it badly enough, you’ll MAKE TIME. I made time. My life is so busy and over-scheduled and yet I make it to the gym 4-5 days a week no matter what. You know what I reduced in my life to make time? TV WATCHING!

  11. Carrilu says:

    You were right in saying that the real issue is not thinking we are valuable enough to put forth the effort. Since I starting making working out and cooking healthy meals a priority, I realize that I end up with more time. time to talk with the family around the table, I have time to spend with hubby while we clean up the kitchen, I have more energy for everyone if I exercise. When we ate out a lot, we rarely had meaningful conversations in the restaurant or car. Pizza was put on the counter and we all ate where we wanted and when we wanted. Then after all the overeating, we were tired and cranky. That “time” we claim we don’t have we are really giving to someone or something else. It is there, just misused. Now if we do eat out it is more of a treat and less of a gross way out of cooking and dealing with my responsibilities.

  12. Marc says:

    Very interesting post. I know a few very successful people personally. Successful time management is a large part of what separated them from the rest of the herd. We all have 60 seconds in each minute, 60 minutes in each hour, and 24 hours in each day. Those successful people are just better time managers during the 16 waking hours of each day. They utilize those to their maximum benefit better than most of us. People often mistakenly call them lucky. The truth is…the harder they work, the luckier they become.

  13. Slimming Style Secrets says:

    One way to avoid the time excuse that works for me is I vary my work out times every so often to try and keep things fresh. For a while I’ll work out in the evening to help curb any nighttime cravings but if I start to get tired of it I’ll switch to morning workouts so that I have more time in the evening and I get lots of endorphins and energy for the day.

  14. MamaBearJune says:

    All of your ideas are very helpful! I definitely want to start using the Foreman grill. My hubby bought it and used it at his apartment when he was working out of state for a year. I keep forgetting we have it! We definitely need to TAKE the time to be healthy! We deserve it and so do our families.

  15. Siobhan says:

    I can’t ever use the time excuse … one of my daughters is training for an ironman while working full-time, being a great mom to her two kids, and writing her thesis for her masters. She gets up at 4:30 am every morning to get her training done for the day. So saying i don’t have time to exercise really doesn’t fly in this family!

  16. KarenJ says:

    Great post Diane! There is always time for what you value most. My husband and I spend all morning on Sunday preparing healthy meals for the week so we can prepare dinner quickly on workdays. Not only do we eat healthy meals all week, but we never bring in fast food, or have to purchase lunches during the week so we save money also. Last summer, we spent every Saturday working at an organic farm. One of my favorite sayings is, “If you don’t want to do something, any excuse will do!” When you make an excuse, it’s a lack of faith in your own power to choose.

  17. Tanvee says:

    This was my favourite excuse, I always knew at the back my mind I had time and it was just an excuse to justify missing my workout….to overcome this what I did was promise myself only 5- 10 minutes on the treadmill/just a 5-10 minutes’ walk outside….but once I started I would always complete my workout..and then I would always find time to finish my other errands also…so every time I would make this excuse I would just tell myself 5-10 minutes’ walk on the treadmill that was enough to get me moving and finishing my workout.
    I think if you plan your meals it is really not that time consuming to cook healthy meals, I usually marinade the meat (Take about 10 minutes to make a marinade) then grill/bake it once I’m back from work, so I can other work around the house and my food is getting ready, making salads also doesn’t take time at all as long as I know what I plan to cook I rarely find it time consuming..

  18. Karla says:

    yeah that is the one comment that burns me up!!!

    I work 50 hours a week add onto that a weekly commute of 10 hours
    food prep

    you choose what is important, and my health is important enough for me to “find the time”

    I usually just smile and say I MAKE the time

  19. From Polyester to Spandex - Kimberly says:

    Time can definitely be one of the top excuses for not exercising, for eating unhealthy meals, and for not cooking at home. I lived those excuses and so many more in the past, but no more! It really does come down to choices. I’ve heard people talk about not having time for healthy endeavors, but later to go on and on talking about their favorite television shows they watch regularly. I’ve stated on my blog and to those that attend the classes I teach that, “If you have time to watch TV, you have time to exercise. No excuses!”

    157 pounds down…68 to goal!

  20. Fiona Jesse Giffords says:

    Making excuses for everything we to do are probably the biggest mistake of in our life. Instead giving excuses you should make the work done, sometimes things are in our hand but we ignore. So you have to take out time for your own workout plans rather than telling “i don’t have much time for workout”.

  21. Sarah says:

    I read once that saying “I don’t have time to do x” actually just means “I am not choosing to make x a priority”.

    I know its true enough for me – there is always time to do things that you really want to!

    Its the wanting to thats the key.

  22. Martin says:

    This is really a great post and I expect a great help from it, because I honestly always comes up with the worse excuses when I need to work out and for sure the time factor is the most used.

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