When I talk about diet and/or exercise to clients, I get an array of responses. I also get a whole boat load of excuses. Okay, I'm not gonna lie, the clients that I feel most compelled to help (other than the ones with NO excuses who are raring and ready to go) are the ones who simply say "I just can't help myself, I love junk food" or "I know I need to exercise but I hate it." It's not just about the fact that they are being honest with me (although that helps a lot) but rather that they are being honest with themselves.
Meanwhile, I've got the morbidly obese clients who swear up and down that they eat a perfect, nutritional diet and just can't seem to lose. Yes, there is such thing as a true thyroid issue but they are few and far between. In fact, I've had spouses, friends and family members often confide in me exactly what these clients truly eat. Okay, I can even deal with this. Pride is a powerful force so I get it. Unfortunately, I can't sit there and tell you how to control and prevent binges if you swear you've been eating nothing but chicken and broccoli for years. But, again, I get it.
Then there's the common excuses: "I don't have the time" (I never hear people say they don't have time to take care of their kids, weird??), "I'm this way because I'm depressed" (no, more than likely, you're depressed because you're this way. Your hormones are out of balance, you can't move freely, you're probably sleep deprived and you're starved for nutrients). And my personal favorite "I'm this way because [insert person's name or situation here] made me this way." I'm not going to lie, these are the people that I feel the least motivation to help. Everything always happens TO them and they have no power over it. They are the eternal victims. I have very little patience for self-proclaimed victims. Sorry.
However, today I had what had the be the most interesting and worst excuse I've encountered so far in my career. I was speaking with a new client and my interview turned, as it always does, to nutrition. Here is how the conversation went:
Me: So how do you feel about your diet.
Her: Oh no, I don't diet.
Me: Well, good, I don't believe that people should technically diet. What I'm asking is how do you feel about the quality and nutritional value of the food you eat.
Her: I really don't want to change my diet.
Me: I understand change is hard and I'm not saying you have to eat perfectly but you're inevitably going to hit a wall in your weight loss if you don't at least make some healthy changes to your diet.
Her: Well, actually I can't eat a healthy diet.
Her: I tried eating healthy once and it raised my potassium levels dangerously high. The doctor said so! And, come to find out, all healthy foods have it, bananas, even kale (end of list apparently)
Her: So yeah, I just want to focus on exercise because I'm not going to change my diet.
So, basically, she is saying her doctor has told her that eating a healthy diet is dangerous for her health. I don't believe this, by the way. As little as most doctors know about nutrition, the one thing they've been taught to regurgitate whenever the topic of nutrition comes up is "eat a balanced, healthy diet."
Okay, so makes for a funny story for me and she surely doesn't believe this so no problem there. The excuses clients make to me basically go in one ear and out the other. At the end of the day you are either ready or you're not and it doesn't matter if I call you out on your BS. The result will be the same. You do the work and I will be your guide. So your excuses to me won't harm our time together. It's your excuses to yourself that do the damage. And we all have them. Here's some of the greatest hits of my past excuses as well as what my new replacement excuses are:
Then: I had a bad day. I deserve to sit down and chill and maybe have some take out.
Now: I had a bad day. I really need to get in a good sweaty workout to make me feel better. Then maybe if I'm still craving some comfort food I'll have a little something naughty while I'm making dinner.
Then: I worked out yesterday, I don't need to work out today.
Now: I worked out yesterday, and it's gone. Now it's today, I'm not sore or tired from overtraining, so time to work out again.
Then: My son is just being too demanding and we are stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday, I can't possibly squeeze in a workout.
Now: My son is being too demanding and we are stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday. If I don't get in a good workout and work out this frustration, I may lose my freaking mind.
Then: I ate bad for breakfast, guess I'll just eat bad for the rest of the day. OR, I ate bad for breakfast so I guess I'll starve myself for the rest of the day (and then it reverts back to the first version once I get really hungry again).
Now: I ate bad for breakfast, guess I'll eat really healthy for the rest of the day to make sure I get my body all the nutrients it needs and balance my blood sugar.
Then: I can't afford to eat healthy.
Now: I can't afford to NOT eat healthy because the cheaper stuff isn't actually real food. (Oh, and it turns out, when I'm not eating out constantly, my food expense ends up being the same)
Then: I don't have time to exercise.
Now: Oh wait, I have 10-15 minutes to scroll through Facebook, I could do a quick HIIT workout instead.
Then: The people around me aren't eating healthy, how can anyone expect me to?
Now: The people around me aren't eating healthy, maybe they will see me eating healthy and be inspired. I should eat better than ever when I'm around them.
Then: I'm tired because I need sugar.
Now: I'm tired, I better not eat sugar or I'll be even more tired in a little while.
And so on.
Have you paid attention to your own excuses? Not so much the ones you tell other people but the ones you tell yourself.
It won't happen all at once but just becoming aware of your excuses and taking the time to challenge them will start to set off change. All changes start right between our two ears. Even if you don't act on your new, positive excuse, just think it anyway. Start reprogramming your brain and eventually it will start coming up with these new excuses on it's own. Then, BAM!, you suddenly find yourself working out on a Friday night even though it's cheat night and you worked out every day this week. Why? Because you now have every excuse in the world to do so!