Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. Recently, I had been knocked off my straight line and I wanted so badly to blame an outside force. But it turns out the force that knocked me off track was really coming from the inside, in the form of excuses.
Physics metaphors aside, I sincerely thought I was impervious to excuses now that I live and breathe fitness. I didn’t even think I could still make up excuses, especially when it came to maintaining my health and progressing in my fitness. I suppose I felt that once I was in an environment where my focus was always on moving my body and clean eating I would no longer craft reasons to weasel out of workouts or eating well. Wrong. I’m not sure why I thought that excuse-making ability would magically disappear when, like most people, I had learned it at a young age.
In mid-December I was on a great roll. My workouts were regular and going well. My diet was on point. The holidays started creeping up and I specifically acknowledged it as a time to not let my routine and diet go to hell. The intention and awareness started out well. I was also expending a lot of time and energy working my new job as a full-time fitness coach and figuring out how to fit in all the components of my life in a balanced way.
But juggling my new responsibilities and staying on top of everything became trickier than I anticipated. I was cracking just a little under my own busy-ness and stressing about keeping it all together. And the only thing I thought to let go was my personal routine. I let a workout slip through the cracks here and there. One cheat meal turned into a few. Then I went on vacation over the holidays and allowed myself a little break, which in of itself was not the problem. All the little excuses I made to extend the break were. One little excuse led to another, and suddenly I felt buried in them.
Not only did I feel stuck, but then I allowed myself to feel like I was out of control. I bombarded myself with accusations of self-sabotage. Dark and ugly questions surfaced regarding self-worth, and somehow making excuses to slip a little off track spiraled into an emotional self-beat down. Quite honestly, not working out as much and not eating as clean as I usually do only compounded the bad feelings. That’s some bullshit, too, because never have I moved forward by beating myself up. I had to stop the internal noise and I decided to write myself a letter, a letter that would act as my new force to get me in motion again. The letter was also written to replace all the inside noise. Anytime I felt badly or had a hard time restarting my engines, I read the letter:
- I forgive you for making excuses
- I forgive you for slipping off track.
- Own up.
- Take responsibility.
- Make it public (Which is what I’m doing now because nothing will stop the slippery slope of excuses faster than putting them out there publically. Also, I don’t want to give off the illusion that coaches or athletes never grapple with their own excuses and slip-ups.)
- Move on.
- You are capable of anything you decide to do.
- Now, stop all the internal talk. Seriously, stop all the beat downs and rationalizations and the excuses for making excuses – just be quiet.
- Get back to what makes you feel best.
I don’t like excuses. They tend to be glaring neon arrows that point out our issues hiding beneath the surface. That said, I don’t judge people for making them – except myself apparently – only because I know they can be an automatic mechanism when we don’t feel in control of our lives. I know, too, that it sometimes takes a minute to recognize when we are making excuses.
Over time and with much awareness we can get better at recognizing when we are creating excuses. I had to come to terms with the fact that maybe we don’t ever stop trying to sneak them in now and again. Frankly, I was embarrassed I had let myself fall prey to them. Luckily for me, it didn’t take me long to realize what I was doing and only a couple weeks passed when I caught myself. I’m now back to doing what makes me feel best.
Do you have go-to excuses? Do you recognize quickly when you use them? How do you combat this and move on?
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