We all have our excuses at one point or another for why we “can’t” do something. I have been full of them in the past. I hear others say them constantly. Whenever someone inquires about my weight loss journey I either hear about their own achievements, sensing the pride they have in themselves in the same way I do or I find that they will voluntarily provide excuses for not being able to achieve their own goals. Weight loss or otherwise, these are the excuses I hear most and the reasons these are no longer acceptable excuses.
Excuse #1: That type of exercise or diet wouldn’t work for me
I can tell when I get the question “So what have you been doing to lose the weight?” that some are looking for a magical answer that no one has heard before. They have a wide-eyed look as if I am about to reveal a secret to losing nearly 100 pounds without working hard for it. The expression quickly changes when it’s revealed that it took a lot of discipline to make it happen. Then the negativity rolls in with why they couldn’t give up dairy, or they are against CrossFit, or bread is too important to them and they could never give it up. I love that. As if loving bread and cheese is rare. I still dream of bread, cheese, and pizza – so basically more bread and cheese. I just also really enjoy the way I feel without dairy or grains in my system. So I choose feeling good over tasting good. Maybe a full Paleo diet isn’t for you and that is okay. But rejecting ideas from the starting line will get you nowhere.
No one will have a miraculous secret to weight loss or any other fitness goals that keeps your daily life the same as it always has been. If you want to change your life, your body, you have to make changes. And you absolutely can live without bread, cheese or whatever else is a trigger for you. And you don’t have to give it up forever either. Treating yourself once in a while to those indulgences is a crucial part to sticking with it.
Excuse #2: I don’t have time
This is a classic. Working out is time consuming. Grocery shopping and cooking meals is time consuming. Everyone is busy. Everyone has commitments and stressors that get in the way of doing the things we would rather be doing. But tell me something…if you were offered front row seats to see your favorite band play last minute, would you find a way to make it happen? If you are holding tickets to see your favorite sports team play in the final game for the championship, do you find a way to get there? If your grandmother is making your absolute favorite dish and she is the last living soul with the recipe, would you go out of your way for a visit?
If you want something bad enough you will find the time for it. If something is important enough you will make room in your day for it. Whether it is work, family obligations, school, friends, or otherwise, it is too easy to forget how important it is to invest in ourselves.
Try doing some meal prep on Sundays so you are less inclined to reach for the phone and order Chinese at the last minute during the week. Life happens, it gets busy, unexpected things will pop up. Keep some meals made ahead of time in the freezer so you are able to just warm it up on those crazy days. Chop up vegetables and fruits to have them handy for snacks, instead of grabbing a muffin or a bag of chips on the go. I always make sure I have a snack in my purse for when I forget to eat on a hectic day. I prefer to keep RX Bars or fruit/nut mixes around for when I need to just grab something on my way back out the door. Going too long without food will ultimately lead to bad decisions, so a little preparation ahead of time will keep you fast-tracked and making healthy choices.
It doesn’t need to be a 3 hour session at the gym every day to get your blood flowing. It can be a 20 minute walk to start. There are workout videos everywhere saving time on driving elsewhere, you wouldn’t need to worry about daycare, and you could do them at any point of your day. More and more companies are building facilities in their offices. Bring a healthy lunch to eat at your desk, as so many of us do already, then take your time away by going for a walk with coworkers or find a gym nearby, and get a great workout in for the day. You will feel more energized and refreshed after getting your blood flowing than if you were to sit at a restaurant for that hour (or half hour even). I started out committing to 3 days a week at lunchtime for my workouts, but knew that if I was really busy or had another obligation I could just skip the gym that day. Now, no matter how hectic my day, I make sure I get an hour in that gym. I find I need it even more on those stressful days. That is my time for me and I deserve that. If you make it a priority you will find the time.
Excuse #3: I can’t afford it
So there is this thing that has been around for a while now, I don’t know if anyone is familiar with it just yet, but I think we just refer to it as the internet. It is an amazing new invention that brings loads of information directly to your fingertips! If you are reading this blog, you have internet access and therefore are able to search for different workouts, join programs, link up with others to have accountability, and learn all there is to know about eating well, moving your body, and improving yourself. Memberships at various gyms can range anywhere from $10-$200+ a month. Workout videos on YouTube. Articles on the best movements for each body part are accessible everywhere. Facebook groups for runners in your neighborhood can help you build a community. There is a solution for everyone.
I know organic foods and natural/specialty foods can be expensive and this makes others hesitant to be consistent with it. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Produce can be cheap if it is purchased properly. Stick with in-season options, only get organic on the produce where the skin is consumed (like apples, grapes and cucumbers) and buy the regular stuff where you wouldn’t (bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe) if you need to. Better yet, grow your own! Meats can be cheaper too. Chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breast. Ground beef or turkey are still great protein options and can feed an entire family. Plus the more you cook from scratch the cheaper it will be. (See above for ways to cut down on time for cooking).
I was worried about my grocery bill getting so high when I switched to a Paleo lifestyle. Although, I do splurge for the Paleo-friendly products regularly. Yes – I pay $6 for a small box of Paleo cookies and I enjoy every bit of it because it makes me happy. And I can feel guilty for spending that much, or I can think of all the money I am saving on takeout. Eating Paleo makes it almost impossible to order Chinese. Forget Pizza. Fast food is a joke. That stuff really adds up. So when I started spending more at the grocery store I was spending significantly less at restaurants. And even if I am spending more on food now – it is worth it. I am worth it! I am not saying you should go into debt and get yourself in trouble to eat grass-fed beef and almond butter (not together….or maybe?). I am just saying if you invest in yourself more you will find other things aren’t as important as they used to seem.
Excuse #4: My life has too many temptations, I could never stick with it
We are human beings and we are tempted by so many things every single day. The office will always have doughnut or bagel day, a cake for someone’s birthday. Friends will want to go out for tacos and margaritas. The spreads at family gatherings are typically full of cheesy, creamy, carb-filled madness, staring right at you. But just because the food is there, does that mean you HAVE to take it? Do you walk into a store and suddenly feel the urge to shoplift? Hopefully not. Just because the option is there, it doesn’t mean you have to indulge.
I find the best way to avoid the temptation is to re-frame your mindset. When someone offers you a creamy substance on top of a slice of bread at a party and you politely decline, try to avoid phrases like “I can’t eat bread” or “I am on a diet and can’t have dairy”. Instead change it to “I don’t eat bread” or “I have changed my diet and am now dairy-free”. You are saying the same thing, but it works differently. You are not telling yourself that you are being deprived. Instead you are just making a statement about yourself. Saying you can’t do something implies that it is a negative thing and you wish you could. Stating that it is not something you partake in as a part of your life provides no sentiment of pity. Over time, your coworkers, loved ones, even strangers, will want to accommodate your healthy choices and applaud your dedication. I used to apologize for being such a pain when choosing restaurants or letting hosts know if I can eat the food they planned on making for an event. Now I just prepare ahead of time, make sure I have something available for me, and tell them not to worry about it because I have it covered. However, more and more, my support system is happy to make adjustments to fit my lifestyle. And that is the way it should be. If they instead were not supportive and rejecting it, I don’t think I would want to go their party anyway. Who needs negativity like that in their life? Your support system should be just that…SUPPORTIVE! If you find that they are not, speak up, let them know this is for real and it is important to you. If they are worth keeping around, they will support you.
Excuse # 5: I ruined it on vacation/over the weekend so I might as well stop
Most can recognize that saying this out loud would sound ridiculous, however, so many of us have thought this once or twice in the past. I am a repeat offender of this one. I have tried losing weight all my life and this is why I always failed in the past and gained every ounce back and then some! And I am not alone. I recently was talking to an acquaintance who has been following the Keto diet for several months. When I asked her how it was going, she rolled her eyes, said she wasn’t really doing it anymore. As the conversation went on I found that it had been two weeks of not following it strictly, which most of that was on a vacation. Okay. What? If you are making changes for your life, does 2 weeks really matter? Does that diminish the months prior of staying on track, learning good habits, practicing discipline and seeing results?
There are two things wrong with this…1) We need to learn to forgive ourselves for a couple slip ups, recognize that we are human beings, and get back to it. 2) We are allowed to treat ourselves once in a while! I am currently suffering from a pizza indulgence I had over the weekend. I don’t know why I had to have it. I usually can resist, but I just really wanted pizza. I did make a paleo pizza crust for myself so it was really just the cheese that was outside the Paleo limits. However I popped in a frozen, standard, glutenous, cheesy pizza for my kids and it was just staring at me while I waited for my own pizza to be done. After a long day in the sun, I just couldn’t resist. It was delicious, and now I am paying for it. First thing this morning I was back to regularly scheduled programming. No need to look back. I feel so bloated and gross as it is, I don’t want pizza for a very long time.
And it was only slightly worth it. It satisfied the craving for pizza. But honestly – my paleo version was way better! Fresh ingredients always win. I tend to save my “cheat” days for when it is really worth it. On my birthday, all I want is the darkest, richest piece of chocolate cake. I happily order it, and have no guilt about it. If I am traveling, I will allow a really good meal of the local cuisine. I make good choices elsewhere and carefully choose those indulgent items that are worth the stomach ache and inflammation. And then I move on, back to the usuals, and definitely back in the gym. No qualms whatsoever.
Whether it is a vacation, a hardship, or just too many unexpected obstacles that led to standing over the kitchen sink eating a mediocre frozen pizza, it is okay to be steered off course. We are not talking about 30-day programs or get skinny fast schemes. We are talking about making better choices for our health mentally and physically. It will ebb and flow. It will consistently be a conscious effort. An occasional set back does not take away the work put in. It provides us a lesson and experience on how to move forward and keep that persistence.
These five excuses and any others that may arise are simply that. Excuses. You choose what to put in your body. You choose what to do with your body. Choose to invest in yourself. When you accomplish this, anything is possible.