Growing up I was always one of the skinny ones. I could eat anything I wanted, as much as I wanted, and I never gained an ounce. For a while, I even wanted to gain weight because I felt I was too skinny and because of that did not have much of a figure.
When I was 19 I got married and within months I gained 15 pounds. Even though the weight gain still didn’t put me “overweight” it was a huge difference for me. I felt bad about myself. I felt like it was a huge deal to my husband. Yet, I didn’t do anything about it. I would exercise sometimes, but I wasn’t used to the fact that I would actually need to work to get the extra weight to come off. And, since I wasn’t actually “overweight” other women acted like I was crazy if I talked about wanting to lose a few pounds. It got easier and easier to feel less confident about my weight and to accept that it was normal to gain weight out of high school and after getting married and leave it at that.
Then came baby
Three days after our third wedding anniversary I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I had a rough start to my pregnancy to the point that my doctor had told me I most likely had miscarried. During an ultrasound the following afternoon to our shock there was a miraculous little heart beating on the screen. I was on bed rest for a week and then good to go for the rest of my pregnancy. But, even though my doctor said I was ok, I was too worried to try any kind of exercise for the rest of my pregnancy. I ended up gaining 40 pounds and had a 5 pound 14 ounce baby. There was a lot of weight left over.
During the year after my daughter was, born I felt awful about the way I looked. I knew I didn’t look as good to my husband either and I took all of the bad feelings I had about myself and put them on him. I just “knew” that he was thinking all the same things about me that I was (even though he wasn’t). So, I tried to make myself feel better by thinking that he should not be so shallow as to care about the extra weight. I mean c’mon, I had just had his baby.
Trying to lose weight
I finally got to the point that I joined a weight watchers group. Just watching what I ate a little helped the extra pregnancy weight to come off, but I still held onto those 15 pounds from pre-baby.
Eventually, I came to a point in my life where I realized that even though everyone in the world might be ok with me weighing those extra 15 pounds, I wasn’t ok with it. It was affecting my confidence and the way that I interacted with my husband. I felt bad about my body so I most certainly didn’t believe that he liked it. It all came down to the fact that I had to determine to make a change, no one could force me to do it.
If you look through the first part of my story you can see all the italicized excuses that I used to not have to put in the hard work that was necessary. It is so much easier to try to excuse our way out of making a change that would actually benefit our life then to just do the hard work required to make the change.
A little education
In January 2014 I passed the test to become a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). Other than my husband, this is the first time I have told anyone that. See, I don’t work as a personal trainer. I had different plans in January than I currently do. I never ended up putting what I learned to practice for a career, but I have applied a lot of what I learned to myself.
There is a huge problem in America with weight. The NASM textbook says, “At present 66% of Americans older than the age of 20 are overweight. Approximately 34% of Americans are obese, which equates to approximately 72 million Americans.” Don’t think you are out of it if you aren’t an American, it also says that all other industrialized countries have obesity as the fastest growing medical problem.
This is crazy if you stop and think about it. This is something that is purely a choice. (I know there are some extreme medical conditions that can relate to this, but for the majority of people that is not the case). We love to make excuses for ourselves and the things that we wish we could change about ourselves. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
“I’m too busy”
This is the most popular excuse for not exercising. A suggestion for this is to spend a week tracking all of your time within each day and how you choose to spend it. In most cases, this can help you to pinpoint the time in your day that is not being prioritized. Yes, it might be fun and relaxing to spend that extra 30 minutes watching TV, or checking Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, but I bet you would feel a whole lot better if you spent that time exercising.
“I’m not getting any results”
It’s so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it. It can be extremely demotivating to spend a few weeks working out consistently and still not see the number on the scale change at all. I’ve been there, I know. This is why it is so important to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Set large goals for yourself and then set small goals to help you reach the large goal. It’s easy to say “I want to lose 30 pounds”, but how are you going to do that. Try setting a goal of spending 5 days a week exercising for 30 minutes each day.
And, the important thing is to track what you are doing and what progress you are seeing. Weigh yourself, take your measurements, and write them down. Also, record how many of each activity you are able to do or how long it takes you to walk a mile. It’s encouraging even when the scale isn’t changing to see that you are able to do 10 more sit-ups or 5 more burpees.
Take pictures every month. This is always encouraging to me. The before pictures are never fun, but weight tends to come off slowly and it’s hard to notice from day to day. Then the day comes when you take a picture and compare it to the before picture and think “Wow, my love handles are smaller and my butt is not so saggy!”
“I don’t have money to buy a gym membership or equipment.”
Nice try, not only are there a lot of inexpensive gym memberships or ways you could cut spending to afford it, but there are a lot of options for exercising at home without spending money. My husband and I enjoy a lot of the Beachbody workouts; P90X, Insanity, and T25. Yes, these do cost money, but I have found the investment to be well worth it because we rotate them and have been using P90X on and off for the past 4 years.
My sister and brother-in-law actually rented the P90X videos from their local library, free of charge. And, almost everyone has access to the internet now where you can find an incredible amount of different exercises you can do at home for free. One of my favorite places for free workouts is Fitness Blender.
“I’m not overweight” or “I am not as heavy as a lot of people”
This might not be something we say out loud, but more something we think. It is an internal excuse that we use. As a woman and a mother, it is easy to think “Well I look pretty good for having 3 kids”. When it really comes down to it though, I don’t want to feel like my husband thinks I look good “for having 3 kids”. I want him to think I look good, period. And, no matter what anyone else thinks, I have to think about what my weight does to me. When I have gained even a few pounds I start to lose a little confidence and it’s easy to not even notice until my husband touches my side and I slap his hand away because I am self-conscious about it. Stop comparing yourself to others and start looking at how to be your best.
“I am too tired.”
This one can go hand-in-hand with being “too busy”. Look at your schedule and see where you can cut a little bit out to make room for exercise. It is a proven fact that exercising helps to combat that tired feeling. The mornings when I get up and exercise right away, I have a lot more energy for the rest of the day then when I hit the snooze and don’t squeeze a workout in later.
“I don’t want to go alone”
It’s important to have support when you are making changes in your life. Often my husband and I will work out together, but not everyone has a workout partner. That’s ok. Even if you don’t “feel” like doing it by yourself, you can! And, there are tons of online support forums that you can be a part of. Or, find an accountability partner to keep you going.
“My kids get in the way”
I can attest to this. I exercise at home because I love the convenience of it (and the cheapness of it). But, sometimes with 3 little ones running around, it can be complicated. You can try your best to squeeze your workout in before they wake up or during nap time, but it doesn’t always happen.
I would love to find a workout video that shows the reality of having a child crawling under you like a bridge while you are in downward dog! Showing your children that exercise is important to you is a great example of teaching them to take care of themselves.
My kids got a copy of Denise Austin’s Fit Kids several years ago and we pop that in the DVD player every once in a while to get them moving too. They have a blast and sometimes we jump in and do the video with them. This is one area that you just do your best in and make do. Some days will be easy and others will be constantly stopping what you are doing to break up a hair pulling screaming match in the other room. Just give it your best!
“I don’t like to exercise”
A lot of people feel like this including me on a lot of days. The truth is, I don’t always enjoy exercising. Some days I would rather do just about anything else. But, I try to do it anyway because I know it’s good for me and a good example for my daughters. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because it is the right thing to do. Our kids don’t like to pick up their toys, but we make them do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
There are so many benefits to exercise outside of all the “medical” benefits you get. Some of the psychological benefits include reduced stress, positive mood, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety and depression. There are tons of reasons to exercise and hundreds of excuses not to. It all comes down to making that choice, setting your goals, and then sticking with it.
Don’t get me wrong…
I am not at all trying to indicate that fitness, our looks, or outer-beauty (however you want to say it) are the most important thing. Because it’s not. Much more important than physical health is your character and the way you behave as a person, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to neglect your health.
Everyone has different medical issues and it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before jumping into your own program. If you have questions and wonder if you are exercising the right way, I would encourage you to make an appointment with a local trainer. I was surprised when I met with a trainer for the first time after years of exercising at home, how many things I was doing incorrectly by just a little bit. But, what a big difference it made when I did it the right way.
Don’t try to be perfect, just do your best! If you miss a day or two, don’t get discouraged and quit. Just jump back in the next day. And remember, when you make good choices, no matter how small, over an extended period of time, you will see great results!
How about you? Do you enjoy exercise? Do you have any other excuses that you struggle with? What’s your favorite exercise or fitness tip?