Let’s face it, everyone has excuses why they can’t go to the gym. Trust me, I’ve probably heard them all, and with the exception of being in a car accident or having a family member in an accident or them being sick and hugging the porcelain, they’re all pretty lame. I mean, seriously, here’s all the excuses I hear this week alone:
I’m too busy at work
My kids are screaming banshee’s
My favorite shows are on tv
I’m too tired
My foot is asleep
I forgot my shoes
It’s too cold outside
I’m just not into it today
My va-jay-jay is painin’
Those were the excuses people tried to not exercise this past week, whereas these were the things other people overcame in order to work out this past month:
Son was in a car accident, had to work off stress
Cancer diagnosis on Monday, surgery scheduled for the following Friday, had to work off stress
Accountant working 80 hours with RRSP and income tax season in full swing, yup you guessed it, had to work off stress
Fresh from knee replacement surgery 2 months ago
Wheel chair. Need I say more??
Pipes burst in her basement due to the cold
Multiple Sclerosis, she shows up to feel better and keep her disease in check
I could go on, but then I might start boring people or making them feel like crap. A couple of years ago, I was training one person who was going through cancer treatments for an aggressive form of breast cancer, had 7 surgeries at that time (needed another 8), and had literally found out that morning her husband had been cheating on her ever since her diagnosis. She filed for divorce, and then found out he wanted to get full custody fo the kids, claiming she was medically unfit due to her treatments and surgeries. She was a wreck, but wouldn’t let me talk her out of not exercising. She also wouldn’t let me know where he lived so me and a few “associates” could pay him a visit and have an impromptu batting practice.
Let’s face it, there’s tonnes of reasons you could not do something, but there’s typically only one reason why you should:
BECAUSE YOU CAN
Nate Green just released a free e-book called The Hero Handbook, with the subheading of “A crash course in building a bad-ass body, getting your shit together, and living the life of your dreams.” In this amazing free book that has literally no strings attached to it, he drops some seriously quotable statements, like the following:
Don’t have the body you want? Your fault.
Working a job you don’t like? Your fault.
Shitty grades in school? Your fault.
Up to your eyeballs in debt? Your fault.
It’s all your fault. But this is actually great news.
Because it’s your fault, you can take responsibility for it. And if you take responsibility for it, you can change it.
Here’s the beauty to something like a statement as direct and blunt as this: it forces you to take ownership of your life instead of playing the blame game for every aspect of your life that you don’t like. Overweight? Well, maybe it’s in your genes, so don’t feel bad about it. Just keep eating and not exercising, because hey, it’s not you, it’s your metabolism. Now excuse me for a minute while I try to relocate my head to the other side of this wall.
While genetics may play PART of a role, it’s pretty minimal. This excuse should have been kibosh back in the 1970’s when a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed identical twins raised in the same household showed similar body fat percentages, while those brought up in different households in different communities had a big difference in body fat percentages (N Engl J Med 1974; 291:178-185). Moral: your environment and decisions play a bigger role in how you turn out than your genetics.
To be brutally honest, the only thing keeping you where you are, is you. Want to lose weight? Change your diet and exercise. Want to gain muscle? Change your diet and exercise. Want to improve your career? Quit your job and find a new one. “But Dean!! It’s not that easy!!” Maybe.
BUT IS IT REALLY THAT HARD??
We’ve developed a culture of learned helplessness, where we’re quicker to find out why something failed than we are to figure out where it succeeded. We try to find a scapegoat who didn’t pull the line enough, rather than buckling down and doing something about it. We have to stop thinking “I don’t think I can” and start asking “I wonder how I will do it.” Recently, Canada changed the recommendations for physical activity for adults from 1 hour a day to an accumulated 30 minutes, simply because people were finding it too difficult to walk for an hour each day, and they were feeling bad about it. So let’s give everyone a medal and a ribbon for trying and tell them they’re special and that it’s alright they didn’t get their hour a day, because after all it’s not their fault. Don’t worry about the crippling obesity epidemic in North America, because we have to protect everyone’s feelings.
If we let every obstacle get in the way of our success, we would still be living in caves and using horses to get from A to B, and planes would be science fiction. To give you an idea of what overcoming obstacles means, take Luc, one of my clients who started training with me around this time last year. He’s had roughly 6 surgeries on both knees, walks with a noticeable limp, has had multiple neck surgeries from injuries sustained from years of military service, and was an unfit 225 pounds. In his first few sessions in my Boot Camp group, he was only walking on the treadmill, and I was wondering how fresh the AED batteries were and if we were going to get some excitement from the night. After 1 month, and lots of pain and discomfort, he was still there, sweating away, but now he was jogging lightly. He wouldn’t give up, and would push through pretty much anything. By the time the weather had improved to the point where we could hold Boot Camp outside in May, he was jogging every time, had lost 35 pounds, and was able to move his legs without any real problems. By the end of summer, he was still hard at it, and had lost 65 pounds, gained muscle, and helped get his knees and neck stronger to the point where they didn’t bother him any more.
Luc had every obstacle in front of him. He worked 60 hours a week. He was very overweight. He had sore knees and a sore neck. He hadn’t exercised in decades. He was uncomfortable in the gym. Everything was stacking up against him.
He pushed through, and made something happen.
Everyone has the chance to be great. Everyone has the chance to become the person they want to be. In reality, all it takes is effort and direction. If you know what you want to do, but don’t know how to do it, find someone to help you out. If you know how to do it but just don’t want to give it a shot, shake your head a bit, and get off your butt. No one will do it for you. No one will hold your hand and do it for you, so follow the Nike commercial from the 80’s and JUST DO IT.
Most people focus on their faults, and forget about how good they have it.
My legs are sore. At least you have legs
I’m tired. But you’re not dying from illness
I have family obligations. You have people who love and care for you, and would gladly trade an hour to get 20 more years.
I have to work. Your productivity and attendance go down with prolonged stress and reduced health. Plus, you work to live, not live to work.
I don’t have time. Unless your unemployed or retired, you’ll never have time. So find some.
My shoulder/back/knee/vagina’s sore. You’re not paralyzed.
I’ve always believed that excuses are like assholes: everyone has one, but no one wants to hear yours. Find reasons to work out, rather than reasons not to.