The three most common excuses in the way of your health and fitness goals

The three most common excuses

The three most common (very valid and to-be-taken-seriously) reasons people bring up when they are faced with some kind of health and fitness commitment are:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I don’t have enough money.
  • I can’t.

But to be brutally honest: They are cop-out answers.

As serious as these reasons are, they are the easy way out because they are only tiny symptoms of a much deeper and bigger problem.

Look, I’m human too and I KNOW that we all make plenty of time for unproductive things or spend money on things that we don’t really need or even want. And when push comes to shove, we end up being pretty darn good at doing things we didn’t think we could do (we also love proving naysayers wrong!).

Putting time, money, and ability into perspective:

Here are three thought exercises to help you put each of these into perspective.

  • Not enough time: If I gave you R10,000 for every hour that you spent working out at the gym – do you think you would still “Not have enough time”? Or, if I could give you an added year to your life for every hour spent in the gym? Or I could add another year to someone else’s life that you care about? How much harder do you think you could try to make the time to go at least 3 times a week for an hour with that kind of incentive? Everyone has 24 hours in a day. The problem isn’t time. If you suddenly had 25 hours in a day you would still think you don’t have enough time.
  • Not enough money: If I told you to cut your monthly expenses by 10% per month for 1 year and I would give you the best physique and level of health you could ever dream of – do you think you would still “Not have enough money”? Imagine… Just a few concerted savings efforts or sacrifices here and there plus the snap of a finger and BOOM, you have the physique and health of your dreams. The thing is, the problem isn’t money either. Lifestyle creep happens when our standard of living improves – we have a tendency to buy bigger, better, and nicer things as our income rises and what we once saw as a luxury gradually becomes a necessity. If you can’t save 10% of your expenses now, you very likely won’t be able to save 10% even if you get a decent raise. Besides… The most expensive food you can buy is junk food as not only does it take away from your bank account but it also takes away from your health.
  • Not able to: If I put a gun to your head and said “DON’T YOU DARE EAT THAT [insert unhealthy snack]!“, do you think you could give it a pass? Pretty likely yes, right? I mean I like donuts as much as the next person but I like life waaaaaay more.

Now, these are all rather extreme and far-fetched scenarios, but what is important is that…

——>   IT ISN’T IMPOSSIBLE!!!   <——

How cool is that?!

If you really were unable to obtain enough time or money or self-control, then no matter how far-fetched the scenarios are, in all three you would still not have enough time or money or willpower. You would lose out on an easy R30,000+ per week. You would lose out on the kind of physique and health that no amount of money in the world could ever buy. And you would be dead.

In the words of Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.

It always seems impossible until its done quote by Nelson Mandela

Impossible is a state of mind:

More often than not, at least when it comes to health and fitness for everyday people, impossible is just a state of mind.

It’s a word or concept that is used as a way to justify staying in your comfort zone. It’s an expression of your priorities.

It shows where your desire for your health and fitness goals stands in comparison to things like being on Facebook, or your paid subscription to DSTV, or the luxury of procrastinating, or “treating yourself”.

Now I acknowledge that sometimes in life things just go haywire. Babies, deadlines, emergencies, retrenchment, scams, relocations – and so on. But there is always SOMETHING you can do. Life is messy and never perfect. You need to learn to do what you can with what you have got, every single day.

As they say: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain quote

Do you have a problem, or do you have an excuse?

I’ve found it quite useful to re-frame every obstacle I face in life as either a Problem or an Excuse.

If it’s a Problem then that’s FANTASTIC!

  • Because problems can be solved and you can ALWAYS take a step forwards in some way. No matter how small that step is.
  • If your problem is time, you can manage your time better. If your problem is money, you can refine your budget. If your problem is energy, you can eat better foods and get more sleep. Whatever it takes to get more time, money, or energy. Always be trying to solve your problem and taking the next step forwards.

If it’s an Excuse then that’s the REAL PROBLEM!

  • Excuses lead to inaction. They justify why something is so without requiring any additional steps to be taken to address the issue or prevent it from happening again.
  • Excuses protect you from failing. They stroke your ego and save you from embarrassment. But that’s it.
  • Failure is feedback. You can’t get better if you don’t fail and learn. Let go of your excuses and take responsibility.

when-you-want-something-bad-enough

Maybe there is a deeper problem:

As I said in the beginning, time, money, and ability are only symptoms.

Maybe… Just maybe there is a deeper problem.

Some of the problems that I’ve identified and overcome in my own life over the past few years as I’ve gone through my own transformation include:

Eric's Before and After

  • I’m not confident in my ability.
  • Change is too uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone.
  • I don’t know what to do.
  • I know too much about what to do, and I can’t figure out how to narrow it down and just start.
  • I think “knowing” and “doing” are the same thing.
  • I have other priorities, it’s just not that important to me right now.
  • I’m worried what people will think of me.
  • I’m waiting for the perfect time.
  • I don’t have a strong enough support system around me.
  • I always try too hard and burn out, rather than start slowly and aim for sustainability.
  • I’m impatient, results come too slowly.
  • I don’t have a strong enough motivator or “why” to push me and keep me on track.
  • I only rely on motivation rather than commitment or discipline or integrity.

I hope that you manage to identify some of these problems in your own life. Acknowledgment is the first step towards a solution.

As they say, “Where there is a will, there is a way.

where-there-is-a-will-there-is-a-way

You have to be clear about why you want it and why you think you can’t have it.

Once you can be brutally honest with yourself and identify your real problems, you can ALWAYS find a way to take that “next step”. You don’t have to solve the problem overnight, but you do have to start making it better or brainstorming solutions.

You don’t just find the time or the money. You make and save it. Day by day, hour by hour. And ability is a skill that can be learned through practice.

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