Before I begin, let me quote my mother and say, “if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” Living a healthy lifestyle is not always easy and I’m sorry to tell you, the responses to these excuses aren’t going to be quick fix answers.
Most people have been leaning on their excuse crutches for a very long time, their entire lives, perhaps. It will take effort, probably adjustments and most likely discomfort. It could be your first reaction will be to say, “yes, but…” and then you will come up with another excuse. And then another. I see it ALL the time and those people are going to be stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle because instead of tackling their excuses, they fight to keep them and even make up new ones. Don’t be afraid to look at yourself and ask why you automatically have a list of excuses waiting.
I’ve included some excuses that I hear all the time, as well as ones that were given to me on facebook, twitter, and my blogs. I received far more suggestions for excuses than I thought I would, so I’ve tried to combine some of them together. I may not go into quite as much detail on some of them as I would have otherwise, and may not have gotten all of then, but I wanted to touch on as many examples as I could.
WARNING: I’m not going to sugar coat it. Some of my responses are going to be blunt, because sometimes it takes a kick in the pants for someone to realize how important their health is. Your health doesn’t just affect you. It affects your entire family, all your loved ones. If your life is shortened, or your quality of life is taken away because you didn’t look after yourself, everyone loses. There is no excuse worth that, but you have every reason to make a change. My hope is that it will at least make you think and re-examine the things that are holding you back from a healthier, happier you.
Excuse #1 I just don’t have time to work out and eat healthy.
Not enough time is probably the most common excuse I hear and some people do lead extremely busy lives. Doing some sort of healthy activity doesn’t have to take hours and hours of your week. Do you have twenty minutes three times a day to do something active? You need to set your day to get certain things done, it’s true, but it should also be a priority to re-work your schedule to fit in something this important to your overall well being.
How much time do you waste in a day, watching TV or surfing the internet? Could you watch less TV, check your emails a few less times in a day, spend less time on the social networks?
People say they don’t have time to eat healthy and prepare proper meals. I am the laziest person in the kitchen and I can tell you that it does not take a lot of time to or effort to eat healthy meals. Yes, it does take time to plan, but what successful venture doesn’t? The rewards far outweigh the amount of thought and effort that go into pre-planning your meals.
Not having the time is not an excuse. Find the time or make the time.
Excuse #2 I can’t afford to join a gym and eating healthy is expensive.
This one leaves me frustrated every time I hear it. You do not have to join a fancy expensive gym, you can work out at home, or go for walks. However, how much money do you spend on junk food and eating out in a month? Do you think it’s about the same as what a gym membership would cost you? If you change your habits and put your money into being healthy rather than perpetuating things that are bad for you, you will have more than enough. Again, this is no excuse at all. Eating healthy is NOT expensive. I’m not asking you to buy all organic or shop at the most expensive health food stores! Vegetables, fruit, oats,
Excuse #3 I don’t want to get “big”.
Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to put on muscle. I have been training for over 20 years, competed for 11 years and I still struggle to put on muscle and keep muscle. There is NO WAY that you are going to end up looking like some giant bodybuilder by going to the gym. Bodybuilders (and other competitors) get “big” by eating tons of clean food, hitting the gym hard for many, many years and living the entire lifestyle non-stop. Your own efforts will not produce those results. This is not even an excuse, it is a myth!
Excuse #4 I don’t want to wear skimpy “gym clothes”.
There is no rule that says you have to go to the gym in some skimpy little outfit! Throw on a t-shirt and a pair of comfortable sweats and you’re good to go. It’s not a fashion show, you’re not there to impress anyone, you’re there to get fit and healthy. Yes, you’ll see people in “workout clothes” and likely even lots of girls wearing tons of makeup and cute matching outfits. Who cares! Wear what you feel comfortable in. As your physique progresses you may find yourself wearing smaller clothing because you’re looking and feeling great, or else you can continue to wear your t-shirt and sweats.
Excuse #5 I can’t stand to eat the same boring healthy food all the time.
Healthy food does NOT have to be boring! There are lots of recipes out there and there are tons of condiments and spices that you can use. There are a lot of different, tasty, healthy options. Try new ways of preparing your healthy food. I have no sympathy for this excuse. I contest dieted for eleven years straight, on a very short, very bland list of foods. (oatmeal, egg whites, chicken, tuna, sweet potatoes, repeat) We eat the same foods over and over and over, but you don’t have to! There’s a wide range of healthy foods, recipes and ways to spice them up. Yes, that means you may have to do a bit of digging to find recipes you like.
Excuse #6 I really don’t like working out, or lifting weights or *insert type of exercise here*.
We do a lot of things in life that we don’t necessary like, but they’re things that need to get done. (I hate house work, but it has to get done) With exercise, you can choose things that you like doing, that’s the great part! You don’t like just going to the gym to lift weights, then don’t. Go swimming, play tennis, join an aerobics class, dance class, martial arts, the list is endless. The important thing is to find something that combines cardiovascular type work (where your heart rate is elevated) with something that is going to strengthen your structure (anything that requires you to move your body against resistance, including gravity).
Excuse #7 Working out makes me even more exhausted and/or if I workout too much I’m always sore and don’t want to keep working out.
For most people, working out and eating healthy will give them MORE energy. However, if you lead an extremely busy, stressful life, any type of exercise might feel like it’s draining you more. I’d say go to your doctor, see if your body is functioning as it should be. (thyroid, iron, etc) Can you fit more sleep into your week? Try doing your chosen exercise only twice a week. Then try three, see how you feel. You should not be working out more than your body can handle.
I go to the gym three times a week and do martial arts two times a week. Occasionally I’ll add a hike or some cardio, but that’s really all my body can handle. My weight workouts are brief, less than 45 minutes. Any more than that, and yes, you’ll always be sore, you’ll always be exhausted because your entire neuromuscular system needs to repair itself.
Every time you do any exercise, you use your whole body, even if we try and “isolate” certain body parts, your entire body gets involved, including your neuromuscular system. It needs a rest too! Exercising as little as three times a week for twenty minutes is going to help you improve your body without wearing it down.
Excuse #8 When I go out drinking, I end up eating bad food that night and the next morning and I don’t feel like working out.
This might seem like a simple answer..don’t drink, but no one is expecting you to throw away all the fun things in your life while you’re getting healthier. Moderation, obviously is the key. For me, when I know I’ll be socializing at night, I’ll work out that day, make sure the evening falls on my cheat day, then enjoy myself that night guilt free and allow myself to rest the next day.
Excuse #9 It’s too cold (or too hot) a lot of the year for me to go out and exercise
The answer to this one seems simple, work out indoors. However, going back to an earlier excuse, we don’t always enjoy exercising inside. This may be one of those cases of doing something for those months that you might not enjoy as much, just to keep your fitness levels up. If there is something you enjoy doing outside, in the colder seasons, try to find ways to increase your conditioning for when you do get to go back outside. That way, your workouts will still have a purpose. For example, skiiers who can’t be on snow all year round, will do drills in the gym.
Another point about the colder weather, don’t use it as an excuse to cover up and bulk up! The fact people don’t see you through layers of close is not an excuse to let yourself “go.” It’s not about aesthetics, it’s about being healthy.
Excuse #10 I am tired of trying to make a difference. It is easier not to.
I touched on this already in my opening, but I thought it was worth dealing with some more. This statement breaks my heart! I can understand why people get to this point, with all the good intentions that end up going nowhere, not to mention all the misinformation and hype that’s out there to “lose weight fast” that never works. No, it’s not easy, but many things in life worth having aren’t. (did I say that already? It’s true).
I’m trying to become a published novelist and that’s not easy either, but I’m putting my full effort towards it. You need to educate yourself on the what, how and why of eating and healthy and working out so you’re not going into the journey with disillusionment. If I thought it was going to easy to get a booked published, that it would just take an idea and a couple days of writing and agents and publishers would be knocking down my door, then yes, I’d probably give up because it wasn’t as easy as I thought.
Your health is worth the effort! I can’t emphasize that enough. Improving the quality and length of your life has to be a priority, difficult or not.
Excuse #11 I just don’t know what to do!
This is the only one that I would allow you to call a reason, not an excuse. It’s true, if you don’t know what to do as far as eating healthy and exercising, then how can you be expected to start? The only thing that makes this a pretty lame reason is that there is a lot of good information on eating healthy and exercising, if you can sort out the real facts from the hype.
I’d recommend talking to someone who knows what they’re doing. NOTE: this means someone certified, someone with experience, not just someone who *thinks* they know what they’re doing. Your best friend may have lost a lot of weight, but they may not have done it in a healthy way, what they did may not work for you etc. Seek out someone with the credentials and experience (because credentials alone don’t cut it!) and listen to them. Don’t waste your time with trial and error, find out from those in the know!
I can’t get into all the what to do of eating healthy and exercising because that could take me months to write out. I can say, consult your doctor before starting any type of program and then seek out professional help. Again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money, either. Find someone who could work with you on a barter system (I’ve done that with authors!) offering your skills in exchange for theirs. Or, you could spend just enough time with a trainer or nutritionist to get the facts, then go it on your own.
Excuse #12 Peer Pressure
This is another one that makes my heart hurt and I did address it a bit in my first column. Yes, many people you know might be overweight. Many of your friends might be inactive and don’t care to change and you know what? It’s true what they say…misery loves company. Many times people around you WON’T want you to get in better shape. It’s going to highlight their own unhealthy habits and may raise jealousy issues. If they start pressuring you to be unhealthy “with them” they’re not respecting your decision to focus on living a long, healthy and functional life and it may be time to ditch those people. Ideally, they would cheer you on in your efforts and they might even be inspired by your example to do the same. I’d encourage you to sit down and talk to anyone who is consciously (or unconsciously) sabotaging your efforts and explain to them that it’s important to you and you need their support. Sometimes it is necessary to walk away.
I’m going to stop there. I think kicking a dozen excuses in the butt could be called a success. I hope my answers will get you thinking about your health in a new, “it’s not easy, but I can do it” kind of way. There are no excuses big enough to risk your life for. You have every reason to start improving your life, right now.
Sandra Wickham was a fitness competitor for ten years, including four years as a professional athlete competing against the best women in the world. She has been a coach and fitness trainer for over twelve years. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training. Sandra’s short stories have appeared in Evolve, Vampires of the New Undead, Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the Order, Crossed Genres magazine, LocoThology: Tales of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Urban Green Man and Luna Station Quarterly. She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks and slush reads for Lightspeed Magazine. You can visit her at www.sandrawickham.com