“Success is a tale of obstacles overcome, and for every obstacle overcome, an excuse not used,” Robert Brault.
Have you ever overheard someone who tells you they want to lead a healthy lifestyle but right away jump into the excuses arena? The most common excuses I have heard for not exercising or eating right are: “I can’t exercise because I can’t afford a gym membership.” “I’m too tired to work out today.” “Eating healthy is expensive, and I’m on a tight budget.” “There just isn’t enough time in the day.” I have even used them myself at times, but all excuses do is rob you of your motivation and lower your sense of self-efficacy. Yet, don’t get down on yourself; we are all guilty of making excuses from time to time. But how can you turn that excuse into action? Below are some tips to help you crush your excuses.
1. The first step: identify the real reason behind your excuses. This may require some soul searching to find out why you avoid exercise or can’t take those steps toward a healthy lifestyle. Talk with a health professional, counselor or friend—someone who can help you identify the root of why you are struggling to make change.
2. Almost every theory of motivation tries to think about how you can get from non-action to action. One of them is the rule of 20 minutes, which eventually experiences a very simple psychological attitude that for 20 minutes each of us can endure any action, no matter how great is his resistance against it. It is an active way to fight the call of laziness and increase your motivation.
3. Evaluate your beliefs around food and exercising. In cognitive behavioral therapy, I have clients identify their automatic beliefs around certain issues and then I ask them to play detective. Examining your beliefs helps you to begin to change your feelings and actions. You can ask yourself questions such as: What do you want? What are your goals? Do you want to be happy and get the most out of life? Is the way you are thinking now helping you to achieve this? Or is it standing in the way of what you want?
4. Make small changes until it becomes a habit. I cannot stress this enough. Small changes are easier to sustain over time rather than trying too fast and too much. Take advantage of some of the tracking tools available on the web or in your app store on your phone. Track yourself until it becomes a habit. As you develop habits, ease into changes. Small changes sustained over time become a habit.
5. But it’s too expensive to eat healthy. You might be surprised to learn that some studies have actually found it isn’t more expensive. For example, it is less expensive to buy a bag of apples to keep at the office than it is to get a snack at the vending machine every day. Making your own lunch is always cheaper than eating out. Think of it this way—how much is it costing you to remain unhealthy? How much money are you losing taking days off work because you are sick, how much are you spending seeing the doctor or taking medication to manage your blood pressure or other health conditions? Evaluate the personal cost of being unhealthy.
6. Plan for Roadblocks or setbacks. Just because you ate a piece of cake one day doesn’t mean that you have to give up or throw out your goal of staying healthy. If you are going to a party and you know you will be tempted to indulge, make sure you eat a healthy meal before you attend. It will help you stave off temptation and keep you happy and content. In other words, organize yourself and plan.
Make staying healthy and fit a game. Have fun and use your creativity to stay on track. And remember, “Strength is a product of struggle.” The more you overcome your excuses, the more motivated and committed you become.