Monday, April 5, 2010

Weight Loss Excuses: How Excuses Will Make You Fat

Weight Loss Excuses: How Excuses Will Make You Fat
By Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret.

The Paradox of Excuses
We become experts in creating excuses for why we cannot do what we recognize to be important. Imagine spending time and energy on finding and creating excuses for not doing what you have recognized to be important in your life. Allow excuses to rule your life and they will sabotage your healthy eating and weight loss program. Just the other day, I had a conversation with a young woman. We will call her Brenda. The conversation went like this: “Brenda, how important is your health to you, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most important?” Brenda responded without hesitation, “My health is one of the most important things in my life. I give it 10 points.” 

Brenda’s Paradox
“Well, Brenda,” I asked, “How often do you exercise each week?” She answered reluctantly, “I don’t really have the time to exercise.” 
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Let me get this straight. You just told me that your health is one of the most important things in your life, but your actions do not correspond. Explain that to me.” She could not.

So what does Brenda need to do? Her words and thoughts on the importance of health do not match her actions. You see, she has made it acceptable to herself to understand how important her health is. Not one bit more. She sees that as enough. No action. No follow-through. Just awareness. She even had a quick excuse to keep her from taking action. As Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker and author, says, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” Brenda is trading her health for a little extra time now. What a paradox!

Excuses Require Practice and Training
A lot of training goes into making excuses, and people spend time carefully thinking of plausible ones. There are even several websites devoted to the art of making excuses. I just looked at one called “The Mother of All Excuses.” You can read or submit excuses for not going to work, skipping school, speeding, running a red light, having an accident, breaking dates, missing church, and more.

Some other excuse-generating websites are The Random Excuse Generator, IShouldBeWorking.com and Sick day Excuse Generator. Here are some of the excuses I found:

School Excuses
  • Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.
  • I did not come to school yesterday because I was feeling like I was going to be sick, but thankfully I was not! 

Dating Excuses
  • I would love to go out with you, but I need to ask my fiancĂ©, and I do not think he would like that very much.
  • I gained 5 pounds this week, and I really do not want you to see me like this.

Exercise Excuses
  • My workout clothes do not match.
  • My cat's depressed.
  • It's a bad hair day. 
  • I don’t have time to exercise.
  • I didn't shave my legs.
  • Somebody was using my treadmill.
  • I’m too old.
  • We’re all going to die anyway.

Eating Excuses
  • Eating right costs too much.
  • I cannot fit in the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. 
  • I don't have time to eat right.
  • My sweet tooth rules, so I can't eat well.
  • I enjoy fast food too much to eat right.
  • It doesn't matter that I have a lousy diet, because I take a vitamin pill.
  • I eat too much to eat right. 
  • Other people in my household eat poorly, so I do, too.
  • We’re all going to die anyway.


Take Charge
No more excuses means doing what you say you are going to do and following through with the right thing. It’s about personal accountability. Excuses are a practiced form of giving up control to external circumstances or people. Taking charge of your life means focusing on what you can do -possibilities talk. Excuses are impossibilities talk. If you have recognized that weight management, healthy eating and regular exercise are priorities for you, but you practice impossibilities talk by programming yourself through excuses, you have made it impossible to succeed in this area. You have created a barrier or wall preventing positive change. 

Have the courage to take that positive first step in the direction you have recognized is best for you. Once you have realized what is important for your life in the long term and you are totally convinced that it is the right thing, pursue it as if your life depended on it. Because it does. Eliminate all excuses. 

Be Patient and Consistent
Embarking on a life of good habits does not have to be done in giant steps. Take it one small step at a time. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey. Allow for gradual change in the right direction for your life. Have enough patience to let time take its course. Any change in your diet or lifestyle that improves your personal health, however small, is a step in the right direction.

Please mention the author when citing or reprinting this article. The author is Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret.

Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret.
Fitness Boot Camp Instructor and Personal Trainer


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