As a Health Coach, I’ve heard every excuse in the book for why people can’t and don’t have the health, the body, the fitness, and the well-being they dream of.
I have to admit – some of these excuses are quite impressive. And creative! I’ve definitely been guilty of falling for them myself from time to time. But they’re only real if you believe them and allow them to guide your actions – or inactions, as the case may be.
Today I’m going to highlight the top seven excuses I hear as a Health Coach and expose what they really mean.
Warning: Some of my translations may seem harsh or insensitive, but I can assure you that they’re well intentioned. I believe the term is “tough love.”
Excuse #1: I’m too busy.
Translation: I’m spending my time on the wrong things.
I’m going to be straight up here. Everyone is busy.
Never before in human history has there been so many thing competing for our time.
But here’s the deal. We have to spend our time on something. And I’ve noticed that if we spend it on the things that matter most to us, then there is very little to regret in life.
How many times have you heard someone lament, “I really wish I didn’t eat so healthy today?” Virtually never, right? Case closed.
Busy is the only guarantee, and I promise you it is never going away. If your health matters to you, please invest the time to overcome this lousy excuse.
Excuse #2: I can’t cook OR I can’t make healthy choices in certain situations (e.g. restaurants, social settings, celebrations).
Translation: I’m choosing not to cook. I’m choosing to allow my external circumstances to limit the results in my life.
I bet you can cook. Or at least shop for some healthier prepared options.
I bet you can order a delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meal off a menu.
I bet you can celebrate a loved one’s birthday without having to down a giant piece of cake and three glasses of wine.
Try this. Every time you hear yourself saying, “I can’t…” replace it with, “I’m choosing not to…”
This tough love stuff is hard, but it can really set you free!
Excuse #3: My family isn’t supportive.
Translation: I’m so scared to try something new and potentially fail that I’ll protect myself by blaming someone else instead.
I want to start by acknowledging how difficult it can be to commit to healthy habits when they people around you aren’t so much. It is a legitimate obstacle that many of my clients face. But there’s still so much that you can do to make progress, and that’s where you need to invest your energy.
Can you clearly communicate to your family why you want to experience better health, what action steps you’re committed to, and how much you appreciate their support?
Can you ask that their junk food be stored in a separate cupboard that you’ll never look in?
Can you ask that your Friday night “pizza and movie” tradition be changed to “sushi and karaoke” instead?
Please do not allow “other people” to keep you stuck for one more day. Besides, you never know who you’ll inspire when you begin to lead by example.
Excuse #4: Now just isn’t the right time.
Translation: I’m so scared to try something new and potentially fail that I’ll protect myself with an excuse everyone can relate to.
Here are some other variations on this classic stalling technique.
“It’s too hard to start in December, I’ll tackle this in January.”
“I’m going through a really busy/stressful time at work. I’ll take this on when things slow down.”
“This month is my birthday and Halloween. I’ll start in a month with fewer social obligations.”
Reality check: There will never be a good time. But when we decide something is important enough, we make time.
Excuse #5: Eating healthy is too expensive.
Translation: I’m not considering the big picture when making food-related decisions.
Understandably, cost is a major factor in people’s food choices. I totally get that.
But are we taking a short-term or long-term approach in our analysis?
Sure, a frozen dinner may cost less (in dollars and time) than baked salmon and steamed veggies, but consider the impact of those two meals over several hours as well as several decades.
Hours: What if you’re hungry two hours after the frozen dinner but the salmon kept you going until morning?
Then the additional food you consumed after the frozen dinner needs to be taken into account in the side-by-side comparison.
Decades: What if your processed food diet lands you in the ICU with a heart attack at fifty years old?
Consider the monetary and stress related toll that will take on you and your family as you work to rebuild your life and career.
Head to head, fast food will always be cheaper than fresh food. In the long run though, eating healthy food can potentially save you a fortune.
Excuse #6: Your “diet” recommendations are too restrictive.
Translation: I don’t want to (or I don’t think I can) give up my favourite foods. It’s not a high enough priority, even though I realize I may feel better.
It usually goes something like this: “I could never give up bread and pasta. I believe in ‘everything in moderation.’”
Ready for my tough love response? “How’s that working for you?”
“Diet” is defined as “the food consumed by a species,” but sadly it has come to mean ”to deliberately select foods to control body weight or nutrient intake.”
”Diet” has become synonymous with ”deprivation.”
Humans are omnivores. We are therefore adapted to eating plants and animals. I love the way Daniel Vitalis put it in the movie Hungry for Change:
“If we put Chimpanzees in a zoo, we don’t start feeding them Captain Crunch cereal, Twinkies and donuts. No, we feed them a diet that resembles what they eat in their ecosystem. Humans are living in a zoo-like environment now – an artificial environment – and unfortunately we are not feeding ourselves the foods we are biologically adapted to.”
Seasoned real food eaters, including myself, who enjoy a wide variety of plant and animal based foods virtually never feel deprived.
Perhaps they’ve learned from experience that eating chips and ice cream in moderation just isn’t possible for them, but that giving them up entirely was easier and more freeing than they could have ever imagined.
Excuse #7: I tried your diet but it didn’t work for me.
Translation: I didn’t really give it an honest try, but saying I did makes me feel better.
Did you really try it? Like full on? For thirty days? No cheating?
Many people “try” it for a week or two, and quit when they start to feel lousy. I’m always coaching my clients to celebrate when they feel lousy in the beginning
Muscle cramps? Great!
Lethargy and brain fog? Hooray!
Feeling lousy means it’s working! And of course it’s only temporary.
In the first two to three weeks, I expect you to feel lousy. It’s called the low carb flu and it’s a clear sign that your body is up-regulating its fat burning genes and down-regulating its sugar burning genes.
Most people who claim it didn’t work for them never got to experience the benefits of being a fat-burning beast!
There you have it. The top 7 excuses for lousy health habits and what they really mean. Which one did you relate to the most? Do you have your own go-to excuses that I didn’t cover here? Leave me a comment.
Just remember, if you look for an excuse, you’ll be guaranteed to find one.
But conversely, if you look for a way to make it possible, you’ll be able to find that too.
I recommend the latter. It is so much more empowering.