Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Excuses You Don't Even Realise You're Making. Is 31 a record?

In my first round of 12WBT last year, I realised I used a lot of excuses that had got me to the weight I was.  It took me five days to write them all because just as I was about to post them, I would think about specific situations that derailed me and find I had more to write.  I’ve ditched some excuses from last round, but heaven forbid, new ones have emerged.  I’ve got 31 excuses this round.  I’m not sure if it’s a record but it might come close.  It reminds me that being the best version of me is a process of constant renewal.

Even though I’m very conscious of my excuses these days, I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, “I still self-sabotage in a way I can’t pinpoint.”  The lovely Leanne Apple Freel (another 12WBTer from Sydney) helped me with a light bulb moment this week when she courageously confessed to eating a garlic bread and hot chip combo (known in the UK as a chip butty) and not knowing why.  It was an emotional response to a social situation that got her there, but I’ve had many of those. 
As an emotional eater I’ve learned I use a series of excuses, justifications and blame-gaming rather than one reason in isolation which results in sabotaging behaviour.  In reviewing my excuses, it has frankly shocked me that my responses to both food and exercise are so skewed towards the emotional when so often I respond to other situations and challenges in life intellectually.  I’ve also realised the resulting behaviour or weapon of choice (food) usually goes straight back to my childhood. 

How often was I given a chocolate, lollies or a biscuit for being good, to feel better if I was upset, or to keep me occupied while other things were happening?  Too often it seems.  In a childhood where we regularly moved house, interstate and overseas, food also kept me company when I was the new kid in town.  Any wonder my excuses are so layered.  It explains them but it doesn’t justify or make my behaviour appropriate.
Having become so practiced and adept at making excuses, I’ve discovered that my subconscious can run through excuses so quickly that I don’t even realise I’ve made them.  It’s a form of intellectual shorthand we do every day.  Think about when you meet someone for the first time and decide within seven seconds if you like them or not.  You don’t think about the reasons because you are so practiced at forming impressions, making judgements and doing a quick tally of the reasons why you like somebody.  It’s the same when I want to order a blueberry muffin with my morning coffee.  Half the time I don’t even think it through.

To break down my excuses, I’ve had to bring them from the subconscious into the conscious and peel back the layers.  Some are obvious, some are not.  Some I use more often than others. Most aren’t used in isolation.  And I know I’m really, really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I blame the dogs for my behaviour.  The two I use the most are tiredness and allowing events and other people to control my day rather than planning it more carefully (actually its probably more like laziness on my part).  Last round I had enough flexibility to be successful at 12WBT with minimal planning.  So far this year, I know that’s not going to work.
My key strategies for overcoming my excuses for this round will be;
  1. Get to bed early, get up early, and get adequate sleep.  Do my exercise early in the day so the monkey is off my back and I can focus on other things without losing sight of what is important to me.  Eat at regular meal times.
  2. Take a leaf out of wonderful Mary’s (Splasharama’s) book and plan on a weekly basis right down to snacks, exercise, meal times and calorie counts.

I’ve listed the excuses and solutions I use here if it helps you discover the ones you use and find ways to conquer them.  The main thing is that you think about your situation and what you do.  Putting them out there means you can no longer hide behind them but the more you hold a mirror up to yourself, the more you will see clearly where the problems lie and how to address them.

1.       I ate it because it’s in the cupboard.
Don’t buy it.  If it’s not in the cupboard, you won’t be tempted.

2.       I just feel like something nice or something to go with a cup of coffee/tea.
Plan for 2 snacks a day and if you still want it, put the treat on lay-by for later. Chances are the cup of tea will be enough and you won’t need the treat later.

3.       I deserve a treat because I’ve been on a diet and working so hard to lose weight and need a break.
And what? Undo all the hard work.  Think how hard it is to burn 500 calories and that muffin you want is 750 calories. Buy a magazine or treat yourself to a movie or manicure.

4.       It doesn’t count if no one sees me eat it.
What you eat in private, people see on you in public. There’s no such thing as secret eating.

5.       There’s nothing to eat in the house and I don’t feel like cooking so I’ll order take-away.
Get organised, cook and freeze some meals so that there’s food on standby for the times you don’t feel like cooking or, ask for help cooking to take the pressure off.

6.       Everyone else is having it; I don’t want to miss out.
Once I’ve lost weight and learnt to keep it off, I can learn how to build in the occasional treat.  Until then stayed focussed on the goal at hand.

7.       I’ve slipped up today, I’ll start again tomorrow.
One meal or snack does not equal a day’s eating.  Recover immediately rather than defer to the next day.

8.       I’m tired and I need a pick-me-up.
Get to bed early and have a good night’s sleep.  Make sure you eat meals at regular times.  Take a multi-vitamin, rest if you have to, and drink some water or get some oxygen into yourself with a walk.

9.       I can’t be bothered.
Um.... JFDI!!!  Motivation is a crock.  Remember, if you really want it, you’ll find a way and if you really don’t you’ll find excuses.

10.   I’ll feel better if I have this.
Actually you’ll feel crap.  Your body doesn’t like that food anymore.  Particularly sugar / fat / stodgy combos.

11.   I’m running late and I’m going to grab what I can.
Get organised and plan your day better.  Keep a healthy snack in your bag on standby.  Don’t let others dictate your day, stay in control of your time

12.   It doesn’t count because I shared it with the dogs.
Blaming the dogs is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.  Besides, the dogs are supposed to be on a diet too.  Fat dog = fat owner.

13.   I love that type of food.
Do you really love it or do you like the look and thought of it.  How does your body feel when you eat that type of food?

14.   I like something sweet after dinner.
After dinner snacking is a habit that can be unlearned.  Put Michelle’s 3 questions on the fridge with her picture beside it to stop you in your tracks.  Would you eat it if Michelle was here watching you?  Not likely.

15.   I’d rather read or watch TV or sleep-in.
You always feel better after exercising and your reward can be reading or watching TV. If you need more sleep, go to bed earlier.

16.   I’ll do it later.
Later never comes or later becomes later. 50% of the time when you don’t plan time for it, it doesn’t happen.  Make it a goal to get your workout done early in the day.  Get the monkey off your back then the day is yours.

17.   I hate sit-ups. I have no upper body strength. I can’t do planks, push-ups or tri-cep dips.
The more you practice, the easier they’ll become.  Get help with your technique.

18.   I don’t think I can exercise that hard.
You didn’t think you could climb a mountain in Canada but you did.  Just do your best and see what happens.

19.   I don’t want to go to a gym on my own.
Talk to the trainers.  Get to know people.  Join in some 12WBT activities.

20.   I’ve just washed my hair and don’t want it full of sweat.
Blow dry your hair when you get home from the gym for heaven’s sake.

21.   I’ve run out of time.
Don’t allow your day to happen.  Plan it. Get it done early.

22.   I’ll walk the dogs before I get my workout done.
The dogs can wait.

23.   The dogs make me feel guilty if I put my running shoes on and don’t take them for a walk.
Dogs are experts at pulling sad faces.  If you do your workout early you can still get their walk done before 9am or give them an evening walk.

24.   I’ve missed the gym class now so I won’t bother.
Go and do a cardio workout, weights or Michelle’s Crunchtime DVD instead.

25.   I have a real fear of running.
Keep practicing, do fun runs, and follow the interval program. Have your ventolin and water with you, go to the toilet before you start, forget what teachers said to you years ago.  The only way to conquer your fears is to face them head on.

26.   I don’t want to do weights because it means going into the ‘secret men’s business’ floor of the gym and I feel overwhelmed by not knowing my way around the weights room and intimidated by all the posers / men.
Do pump classes.  Find a friend to do a weights session with you.  Use a PT session to do weights.

1.       I’ve got a busy day and work is my income and a greater priority.
You can exercise, eat right AND work but you have to plan.  Millions of people do it every day. Without your health or if you’re sick, you can’t work anyway.

2.       By the time I get the dogs walked, I haven’t got time to exercise.
Get organised.  Schedule in the dog walk.

3.       It’s not fair I gain weight so easily and lose it so slowly.  Why bother?
Life’s not fair.  Get over it.  You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to make it fair rather than focussing on what you have to do.  Small losses each week add up to a big loss.  Follow your journey, not someone else’s.  The point is to get to your destination.

4.       The weather is awful or it’s too late in the day to exercise now.
Go to the gym or wear your raincoat.  If the gym is closed, do a DVD at home.

1.       I had to drop everything to help a family member / friend and lost control of my day.
Keep a healthy snack in your bag or pre-pack a meal before you race out the door or chalk it up to experience and get straight back into your routine.


  1. Brilliant!! Bust those excuses hon! Love you work!

  2. you've nailed the excuses for me and I appreciate the solutions. Thanks