We humans are great at avoiding what’s best for us. If we’re able to find a loophole, we pounce on it and cloak it with excuses to justify our inaction. When we’re young, the excuses often revolve around the hectic pace of our lives: final exam tomorrow, one drink too many last night, exhaustion from nursing a colicky infant… Once we reach a certain age, we can’t rely on these handy rationalizations anymore. Not to be defeated, our excuse-making machinery kicks into high gear, straining to drum up ever-more fanciful reasons to avoid getting healthy, toned and energized.
Here are some of the creative escape clauses my own midlife brain has come up with and the reasons they make no sense at all.
Excuse #1: I’m simply too busy today. Something has to give.
Reality check: I’m not too busy to brush my hair and teeth, skim through the newspaper, prepare meals, or have a shower. I’ve accepted that these things just have to get done. Why is fitness any different? The truth is, we can always fit essential tasks into our day, no matter how busy we are. (OK, not always. We may be stranded at an airport for 24 hours but you get my drift.) I’ve committed to exercising three or four times per week. That’s three or four Facebook chats or crossword puzzles I can live without.
Excuse #2: I’m too stressed out to go to the gym. Getting under the covers is about all I can manage.
Reality check: Last I checked, exercise relieves stress. After a stressful day of handling difficult clients, there’s nothing more therapeutic than calling out Hyah! while doing a side kick in BODYCOMBAT class especially if I imagine one of those clients at the business end of my kick. (Relax, folks. I don’t kick anything larger than a soccer ball, and I do a pretty lousy job at that.)
Excuse #3: I have more important things to do, like writing the Great Canadian Novel.
Reality check: Let’s face it. If I don’t write the Great Canadian Novel, it won’t be because of a few BODYPUMP classes. If anything, the opposite holds true: if I let my body go to seed, my mind will follow suit and I’ll get stuck on the Great Canadian Couch, flipping channels.
Excuse #4: All those hard-bodied, high-ponytailed types give me an inferiority complex.
Reality check: Those young cheerleaders surely have their own worries, like paying the rent or dealing with messy breakups. They couldn’t care less about my varicose veins. And if they do, they’re in more trouble than I thought. By hauling my (somewhat) toned, spandex-wrapped fifty-plus body to the gym, I’m letting the world know that imperfection is just fine. That life, as the saying goes, is about showing up.
Excuse #5: All that hard work and I still don’t look like Halle Berry. What’s the point?
Reality check: Even Halle Berry doesn’t look like Halle Berry when the photo-shoppers are on vacation. Besides, when I really stop to think about it, my hard work does pay off: I have a waist line, I can feel my thigh muscles turn to rock during spin class, I can sprint to catch a bus, and I can eat the occasional monster slice of cheesecake without having to shop for new jeans the next day.
So that’s my story. What creative avoidance tactics does your own internal saboteur come up with? By exposing them to the light of day, you’ll take away some of their power. Nothing to lose except a few excuses.