I’ve heard them all, as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and even as Wellness Director. A client of mine years ago said she couldn’t work out anymore because she got a puppy and she was too busy. O-kay. Another couldn’t follow a smart nutrition plan because he refused to eat any fruits or vegetables. Ever. Seriously. His mom used to force him to eat them when he was a kid, and now that he’s a grownup, by God, he’s going to eat what he wants. Breakfast? Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit from Hardee’s. Lunch? Five-piece chicken bucket from KFC (extra crispy) with mashed potatoes and gravy. And two or three biscuits. Dinner? Pizza. It made me want to say, what exactly do you expect me to do for you, bud?
I’ve heard them all coming out of my own mouth, too. I used my asthma and excess weight as an excuse for years. Couldn’t run because I’d wheeze and because I was so heavy I jiggled everywhere and it hurt. Couldn’t do any other exercise because I was too busy with work; too broke to join a gym; didn’t know where to start. I’ll do it next month after this one really tough deadline; it’s Thursday already so what’s the point, I’ll start Monday; can’t start now because it’s almost my birthday/someone else’s birthday/the holidays/Superbowl Sunday; I have to visit my grandmother, and on and on.
What would my now-self say to my then-self, there in the not-too-distant past, spouting out these excuses while looking in the mirror and saying, “hey, I don’t look too bad, I can still see my cheekbones, kinda sorta if I turn my head just like this and tilt it down and make a fish-face?” Honestly, I don’t know. I truly believe that you can’t force someone to make a change. Conviction, commitment, and strength have to come from within. Those elements, paired with education and support, turn into positive change. It’s true for lots of things beyond adopting a healthy lifestyle – going back to school, raising children, even reorganizing the office (ugh). If you don’t want to do something, and I try to “make” you do it, you either won’t succeed, your success will be short-lived, or you’ll end up resenting me and/or the activity. Or some combination of those things. Hence my friend from the first paragraph who won’t eat anything plant-ish.
Maybe my now-self would say to my then-self, so you can’t run? Walk. You don’t have time? Get up a few minutes earlier in the morning, take a walk at lunchtime, do crunches and push-ups while you’re watching the television that you seem to be able to make time for. Too broke to join a gym? Quit buying pairs of new shoes that you don’t need because shoes are the only thing you can shop for and not feel self-conscious, since your shoe size is “normal;” quit spending so much at Starbucks; cancel the premium cable. Borrow DVDs from your friends or the library or go online, and do something, anything. Don’t know where to start? Ask. And for heaven’s sake, quit eating hotdogs and steak fries at midnight when you’re out with your buddies. Just. Do. It.
Hindsight is 20/20, and that kind of “tough love” and bold talk would only have made me furious then. But it sure is interesting to think about my excuses, which I called “reasons.”
Today is Square One, my friends, and excuses are nothing but fear and uncertainty driving your thoughts and actions. Banish them!