Excuses are like a… (Here's a powerful, 6 step process for working past our excuses, er reasons why we can't do "it."
Excuses are like a... Well, you know… ANNOYING!
So as I’ve mentioned in the past, I have been on both sides of the “in shape/ out of shape” coin more than once in my life (as seen above). I won’t get into all the details now, but to summarize, I was heavy growing up - HATED IT, became obsessed with working out and learning about exercise and nutrition in High School and through college (can’t even begin to count the number of magazines I read on the topic over those years…) and lost a bunch of weight and got into some pretty good shape. Then, years later, when I started this personal training company I gained back basically all the weight through stress eating and not working out- 40 lbs. in total. Damn.
I frustratingly struggled for 4 or 5 years to get back into the swing of things with many failed attempts. I’ve previously explained part of the mindset shift that got me back into the swing of things and to drop 30 of those lbs. in a relatively short period of time (the title was, “So, I started a personal training company and proceeded to gain 40 lbs. (of fat)…” - If you missed that post and would like it feel free to email me and I can send it along). Now I want to cover the other mindset shift that really removed my mental blockages that were preventing me from getting going.
I had been stopping and starting on getting back into things a number of times, I just kept telling myself, “look, next Monday it’s on! Super low carb diet, workout 2x’s/ day…” And there were a number of Mondays that I did exactly that. And a few less Tuesdays. And not quite as many Wednesdays. And then I was back to putting it off another week, and so on… Why? “Well, see, I have so much work to do I can’t workout today. And we have plans every night this weekend so I can’t stick to my diet.” Or, “I’m exhausted, I can’t workout this morning. Besides, what’s one day? And I don’t have time to cook, so I can’t eat clean.” Or, etc, etc…. These are obviously just a few common “reasons” as to why weight loss efforts (or really any fitness goals) fail. These stories rob us of control and create a great deal of frustration, disappointment and pain in our lives. I’d like to share a tool with you for removing some of these limiting beliefs and really open the flood gates for getting you the results that you want.
Start by picking one “reason.” Let’s use “I can’t workout/eat well because I don’t have enough time.”
Step 1. Write down the thought.
(Writing the thoughts down are important so you are dealing with 1 concrete thing and not an ever evolving and shifting argument)
Step 2. Is it true?
Well, let’s say I am feeling particularly overwhelmed (or just stubborn ;-) this day, so I answer “YES!”
Step 3. Can you really be absolutely certain that this is true?
That you CAN NOT workout/ eat because you don’t have time? It just is impossible? There is no way that anyone in the world could have similar circumstances and still find a way to overcome them?
Ok, I guess when I look at it that way, I suppose I could get up 10-15 minutes earlier and do some bodyweight exercises before I start my day, or during lunch, or….
So, is it true? No.
Step 4. How do you feel and react when you have this thought?
Well, it may make me feel better for a moment, besides this way it’s not my fault for not working out - it’s out of my control. I’m off the hook. But eventually, I feel overwhelmed and guilty and frustrated. Even powerless. I “react” by not working out.
Step 5. Can you see a reason to drop this thought? (I’m not asking you to drop it, but can you see a reason to?)
Well, I know how much better I’ll feel when I’m in shape and I know I want to get into shape very badly. I also see that having this thought is sometimes letting me off the hook and may ease my guilt in the short term, but it will increase my guilt in the long term in addition to other negative emotions. In other words, it will make feel bad. It also leads to me not working out, which prevents me from getting closer to my goals, which will definitely make me feel bad and guilty in the long term. So yeah, I can see a reason to drop it.
Step 6. Turn it around.
Ok, I see that the thought isn’t true and I can see a reason to drop it. I know that thoughts are going to pop into my head one way or another at times, so let’s see if we can find a related thought that is as true or truer to us by turning this one around. Let’s try “I can workout/ eat well because I do have enough time.” How does that feel? Could that be as true or truer? Well, I guess technically, there are 24 hours in the day. And I guess technically, I can do whatever I want with them as long as I’m willing to accept the consequences. I guess I don’t really have to watch an hour of TV at night. Or I could even workout during it!
That’s it! One limiting, untrue story down! Next up? This process of “inquiry” is very thoroughly explained by Byron Katie in her book “Loving What Is” and I feel is a great framework/ tool set to untangle our thoughts and to really help open the flood gates for results, not to mention general peace of mind and mental health. At the end of the day, the real obstacle that we have to overcome that is preventing us from achieving what we want is most often our own thinking.
***Hint- if you aren’t getting past step 2 and 3, try again when you are in a less overwhelmed, negative, or stubborn state of mind and more optimistic, positive and open-minded one. And guess what! A good way to change your “state” is by exercising!
Agree? Disagree? Have any thoughts or questions on this? Please let me know in the comments below - I’d love to discuss!
Also, if you do find this useful please share with friends!
Regards, Matt Dane