Overcoming Excuses: Finding Motivation to Eat Healthy and Exercise
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“I can’t exercise because I can’t afford a gym membership.”
“I’m too tired to work out today.”
“Eating healthy is expensive, and I’m on a tight budget.”
“There just isn’t enough time in the day.”
Have you ever heard someone making one of these excuses about eating healthy or exercising? Perhaps you’ve even thrown out an excuse a time or two, yourself. Excuses are the language of the unmotivated.
Don’t get down on yourself, we are all guilty of making excuses from time to time. But how can you turn that excuse into action?
The first step is to identify the real culprit—the real reason behind your excuse. This may require some soul searching to find out why you avoid exercise or can’t take those steps toward a healthy lifestyle.
“Talk with a health professional, counselor or friend—someone who can help you identify the root of why you are struggling to make change,” says Meridan Zerner, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian. “You could have the most beautifully designed nutrition plan and yet excuses prevent you from implementing that plan.”
As you are evaluating the reason you’re making excuses, Zerner says it’s important to see your doctor to rule out any clinical causes of your lack of motivation. For example, if you’re tired all the time, it may be due to a lack of iron. Get your physical exam and check in with your doctor to identify any medical problems that might impede your success or exacerbate your weight problem, such as thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome or even stress.
Let’s take a look at common excuses people make and find out what you can do to overcome them.
Excuse No. 1: I’m too tired.
As previously mentioned, first you should see your doctor to rule out clinical challenges that may be the cause your fatigue. If there is a clinical reason for fatigue, your doctor can help you. “Bad food and little movement create fatigue,” says Zerner. It’s a vicious cycle—the lack of exercise makes you even more tired, the more tired you are, the less motivated you are to exercise. Fuel your body with healthy food. Remember that exercise is a stimulant, so you’ll have more energy with even a little exercise.
If you are completely sedentary right now or are feeling tired, don’t assume you have to work out an hour or more a day. Give yourself permission to do just 10-20 minutes of light exercise, such as a walk. Reenergize your body and get better sleep with even a little bit of movement. In addition to having more energy, there are several other benefits of exercise, some of which you can’t get with a healthy diet. These include:
Better heart health
Blood sugar control
Improved mood (managing hormones)
Increases bone density
Improves chance of living a longer life
Excuse No. 2: I don’t have time.
Even the busiest professionals who also have a home life are able to find time to exercise. You find the time for the things that are important to you. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day—it’s simply a matter of prioritizing and managing your time. If you find time to get a manicure, go to the movies or host book club, but think you can’t find 10 minutes in your day for movement, you are fooling yourself. Just 10 minutes of exercise each day will burn 100 calories per day, which equals 10 pounds lost in a year! “Twenty minutes of exercise cracks the door to good health,” says Zerner. As long as you are alive and breathing, there is really no excuse not to get some exercise. Find what works for you and make time for it in your day.
Excuse No. 3: It’s too expensive to eat healthy.
You might be surprised to learn that some studies have actually found isn’t more expensive. “It all depends on your shopping list,” says Zerner. For example, it is less expensive to buy a bag of apples to keep at the office than it is to get a snack at the vending machine every day. Making your own lunch is always cheaper than eating out. Think of it this way—how much is it costing you to remain unhealthy? How much money are you losing taking days off work because you are sick, how much are you spending seeing the doctor or taking medication to manage your blood pressure or other health conditions? Evaluate the personal cost of being unhealthy. It doesn’t have to be more expensive to eat healthy and to be healthy. Take advantage of bulk stores—go in with a friend or family member and split the cost. Join a produce co-op. Shop at the farmer’s market or find a local source of meat, eggs and produce. Better yet, grow your own vegetables! Our society has made unhealthy, processed foods convenient but with a little time and effort, you can find ways to eat healthy on a budget.
Excuse No. 4: Healthy food tastes bad.
This is a common excuse, but there isn’t anything further from the truth. There are so many flavorful, creative dishes you could make that are healthy. Take advantage of all the great resources out there—check out healthy food blogs and cookbooks. Healthy eating doesn’t mean eating bland food. In fact, healthy foods can be bold and flavorful. Cooper Clinic advocates the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time you should eat clean and healthy. The other 20 percent of the time, give yourself freedom to enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods or treats.
Excuse No. 5: I’ve tried every diet in the book, and it didn’t work, so I can’t do it.
If this is you, it’s important to know that you didn’t fail your diet, the diet plan failed you. You must follow a sustainable plan that is rooted in health as opposed to only being rooted in weight loss. No diet is sustainable because the minute you come off that diet, you’ll gain weight again. Find a healthy eating plan that you can adopt into your lifestyle. Get on an evidence-based plan with the help of a registered dietitian or health professional you’ll be more likely to achieve success.
Excuse No. 6: It was my birthday. It was our anniversary. It was my godson’s baptism. There’s always something! There’s always an excuse to stray from a healthier diet. In one indulgent meal, you can easily negate a whole week’s opportunity to lose weight. Make small changes until it becomes a habit. Take advantage of some of the tracking tools. Track yourself until it becomes a habit. As you develop habits, ease into changes. Small changes sustained over time become a habit. “Be that much more vigilant until it becomes part of your lifestyle,” says Zerner, “and stop making occasion-based excuses to not eat healthy.”
Excuse No. 7: I don’t have any support from loved ones.
While it’s important to enlist the support of those around you, some of us do have people in our lives who are either neutral to our goals or will unconsciously sabotage our efforts. If those closest to you, such as your spouse, are not supportive, don’t make him/her your “go-to” person. Instead, look elsewhere for support. You may find it in a friend, trainer or even someone you meet at the gym. It can also be difficult to eat healthy at home if others in your household are not supportive. Take control when you have control. “The person who is unsupportive won’t be there for every single meal and snack—you are control of those clean eating decisions,” says Zerner. Workout when they are not at home. Don’t expect them to change or to be in the same place you are. Prioritize your health, make smart goals and be motivated knowing you’ll be a better friend, mother or spouse if you can hold onto your goals to be health.
Excuse No. 8: I blew it.
One day of bad eating does not mean you blew your healthy eating plan or your diet. One day, or even one week of missed workout does not mean you can’t move forward with your new you. An unplanned cave-in does not mean you have failed in your efforts to get healthy. Just get up and go again. “It’s called humanity—we all do it from time to time,” says Zerner. Celebrate the small changes and give yourself non-food rewards for making progress. “Small changes are worth honoring,” Zerner says.
At Cooper Aerobics, we truly believe death is the only excuse we have not to live a healthy lifestyle. Find the things that work for you and incorporate small changes into your daily life until those changes become a habit.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.