No More Excuses
It’s easy to allow your excuses to stand in the way of your own success in your pursuit of a healthier body. In order to fight back against the excuses you make that might spoil your efforts, you need to come up with persuasive self-talk to counteract your most common justifications for not getting things down.
“With the exception of a very small percentage of medical cases, the only real obstacle most people face in attaining weight loss success is–namely, their weaknesses, misconceptions, and most of all, their excuses.
Money, time, schedules, a weakness for chocolate, slow metabolism: these are all excuses generated by the individual–in and of themselves, these factors do not constitute a legitimate barrier to weight loss,” says Charles S. Platkin, author of the book Breaking The Pattern (Red Mill Press, 2002)
In Breaking the Pattern, Platkin describes the process of coming up with Excuse Busters and Plan B’s to help ward off the temptation to find excuses for not sticking to a weight loss or other goal plan. In fact, Platkin himself has battled against his own excuses for the past 5 years during which he’s managed to lose over 50 pounds–and keep it off. For instance, if you typically excuse yourself from your morning workout because you’re “too tired”, you could fight back against this excuse with a persuasive Excuse Buster: working out in the morning is a much better pick-me-up than an extra 15 minutes of sleep–plus, you’ll have more energy in the long run.
Looking for help busting your excuses? Check out this handy list of Excuses — and the Excuse Buster.
EXCUSE “I only live once—why am I wasting my time trying to lose weight?”
EXCUSE BUSTER “I may only live once, but if I’m not happy during that life, and I get sick because I’m overweight, it means I’m not doing my best to make my one time great.”
EXCUSE “I’m genetically made up this way.”
EXCUSE BUSTER “Yes, I may be genetically inclined to be overweight but I realize that I can control my eating and break my patterns, and learn new ones to combat my supposed genetics.”
EXCUSE “I’ve tried to lose weight before and couldn’t do it.”
EXCUSE BUSTER “Trying and failing is not a strong reason not to try again. I know that losing 20 pounds can be done. Besides, I’ve learned a lot about my body in those previous attempts—I can apply that knowledge to this attempt.”
EXCUSE “I’ll just eat it this one time…”
EXCUSE BUSTER “Life is made up of many ‘one times’—I have to take a stand for what I want in my life, and make it happen for me. My health and my self-confidence aren’t worth this one time.”
EXCUSE “I just don’t have enough time…”
EXCUSE BUSTER “My health and well-being is a top priority for me. If I do not feel healthy and physically fit, I will not be able to do my job, or care for my family as effectively as I can when I’m taking care of myself. I will make time, and rearrange my priorities.”
Coming up with Plan B
When you run into an excuse that is stubbornly immune to all your best Excuse Busters, it’s time to brainstorm a Plan B. Plan B is the course of action you take that allows you to work within the boundaries set by the problem identified in your excuse, while still empowering you to choose a course of action that is compatible with reaching your goals.
In the example of a twisted ankle, there’s no way around it – running is definitely out of the question. So what’s Plan B? Maybe there is another exercise you can do that will create similar physical fitness results. For instance, you could do some weight lifting, use an upper body ergometer, do sit-ups, or try swimming when your ankle starts to feel better. Alternatively, if weight loss is your goal, you might also have to accept the fact that you will not be able to burn as much energy as usual with your twisted ankle, so you will have to decrease the number of bites you eat in order to compensate.
This type of proactive behavior demonstrates that you are continuing to choose to lose weight. Remember, every time you give in to an excuse, you are choosing the second choice – you are choosing to be overweight.
Without thinking ahead, you leave too many things in the hands of chance. If you really want something bad enough, why coast on excuses and put it off?
Make your own choices – don’t let them be made for you.
Sample Plan B’s
“Unbustable” Excuse “I can’t make it to the gym because I often have to work late– I’m just too tired.”
Plan B’s “I will get up extra early in the morning and go to the gym—at least twice during the week and once on the weekend. The days that I miss I will come up with an at home program.”
“I will pay closer attention to my work schedule to make sure I’m not subconsciously slacking off at work just to avoid going to the gym.”
“I will be proactive from now on and make sure I come in early to finish my work on days that I plan to go to the gym after work.”
“Unbustable” Excuse “I can’t go for my walk this morning– it’s pouring out!”
Plan B “I will devise an indoor circuit routine to use on rainy days.”
“Unbustable” Excuse “I have to go out on business lunches all the time—eating out, I just can’t control myself.”
Plan B “I will call ahead to the restaurant and make sure they have healthy, low-calorie food available. If they do I will make sure that they have it prepared in advance, because sometimes I get embarrassed about asking. If they don’t have low-calorie alternatives I will pick a different restaurant.”
“Unbustable” Excuse “I’m at my friend’s house for dinner, and all she has is a very fattening lasagna with garlic bread. There’s nothing else to eat!”
Plan B “In the future, I will call my friend and explain my dietary restrictions, and offer to bring my own meal if it’s inconvenient for her. I will also be sure to eat a light snack beforehand so I’m not tempted to go overboard.”
Now it’s time to develop your own Plan B’s. Which excuses do you make that seem airtight? What situations do you find yourself in which prevent you from achieving your goals?
See if you recognize any of your own excuses:
“I have to work.”
Exercise should be even more of a priority if you’re busy at work. It will give you a boost, clear your head and help you stay more productive. Try taking a workout break and then getting back down to business. You’ll never make this excuse again.
“I stayed up too late last night” and/or “I partied too hard.”
Regular exercisers need less sleep. So if you make it to the gym today, you won’t be starved for sleep in the future. Besides, trainers themselves swear that exercise is the ultimate hangover cure.
“My boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife doesn’t want me to workout.”
Huh? Doesn’t your partner know that exercise will improve your body, your energy level and your disposition? You do all the hard work, and they get all sorts of rewards. This one really doesn’t cut it.
“I have a party/wedding/family event to go to tonight.”
Even a half-hour workout has tremendous benefits and reduces anxiety. Besides, if Academy Awards attendees can find the time to work out on the big day to boost their muscle definition and get that healthy glow, so can you.
“Something came up.”
Don’t even think about it. The key to weight loss and long-term fitness is making exercise a priority. That means scheduling your social life around your workouts, not in lieu of workouts. Don’t worry, if you start exercising now, you’ll have the uncluttered mind and positive outlook you need to better plan your time.