Most of us are used to things like paperwork, phone trees and red tape: nothing is ever simple anymore! Calling an agency to get a stupid fax number means giving out your name, your number and whatever ‘file’ or ‘reference’ number you’re ‘calling about’! Seriously?? “I’m calling to get a dang fax number!! As soon as you get the dang fax, you’ll know what this is about!!”
The truth is that ‘modern life’ is full of different kinds of stressors and hassles and it’s a never-ending drama. As soon as one problem resolves itself, another pops up. Welcome to the Real World! While we all know this, we usually don’t deal with it very well when it comes to weight loss, eating healthy and working out. We use reality and its issues as excuses to blow off the healthy meal choice, the workout schedule or losing weight: “I can’t deal with one more thing today- it’ll have to wait until tomorrow/ next week/ after the holidays.”
Okay…so when exactly are you not going to have ‘something going on?’ Here’s my Real Life example: my mother had major back surgery the first week of August (it is now the middle of November) and since then has been in a convalescent hospital. My dad (who is her retired ex-husband) has been visiting her every other day, mainly to shuttle her stuff back and forth between her house and the hospital and pick up her mail. It also means he’s been caring for her dogs those days. The days he doesn’t come (he lives 75 miles away), I’ve been going to her house to care for her dogs and bring in her mail. I work five days a week with a 4 hour commute round trip; I work out three days a week and on the weekends, I spend a half day Saturdays and Sundays at her house to give her dogs some outside time and some people time. This means I’m usually leaving for work around 6:45 a.m. (normal time) but I’m getting home around 8:00 p.m. which is not normal, even on workout nights! In addition to my job, her dogs and my work out schedule, I also have my own pets and my own errands (like vehicle maintenance, grooming appointments and oh yeah a personal life?) So right in the middle of this mess, my car decides to break down for the second time in less than a month, which means I had to borrow my sister’s car- so grateful!! But mine took a week to get repaired, mainly due to the incompetence of the repair shop. As a result, I missed one workout because I was getting my car towed, and I missed the following day’s workout because we thought my mom was getting out of the hospital and we had to pick up her belongings. By the time we realized that wasn’t happening, I’d missed my class! This past Monday, still driving my sister’s car, I showed up at my gym for my workout class only to realize my membership tag was on my car keys. In the shop with my car! GRRR!!! Luckily, my gym has an app with my ‘card’ on it, so I was able to make it to that class at least!
The point isn’t that I’ve got a buttload of excuses not to make my workouts, not to prepare a healthy dinner (at 8:00 p.m.) and plenty of excuses to eat fast food and lay around the house ‘resting.’ I’ve got great ‘reasons’ to ‘worry about my goals later.’ The point is that if I just decided to ‘take a break’ from my goals and go back to working out and eating healthy after my mom gets home from the hospital, I’d’ve been waiting for three months already! “Let me put my goals on hold for a quarter of the year, and counting!”
The point is that life is always this way! It’s kind of how life works: we do what we want in spite of the real world! Believe me, I’m not some superwoman; there are a few nights where I blew off my cardio class to go home and go to bed (like at 7:30 p.m.)! I figured if I were too dang tired to make it to my workout, then I was at least going to do something productive and get some much needed sleep! Although I think it was a better decision that further exhausting myself, I am still not happy about it, mainly because the cardio class is only 8 sessions and it’s not included in my gym membership (where I can show up at the pool to do a workout on my own).
I admit that my weight loss has suffered, mainly because stress and lack of sleep really get in the way. There have also been some holiday-related treats which probably would have happened without the added stress as an excuse to splurge. The point I am trying to make is that we need to fight for our goals despite what life throws at us. It’s okay to pick your battles, like when I opted to go home to bed rather than making my cardio class. I had to ask myself which would be more benefit to me, and honestly, I still think I was a little lazy, even though I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I got into bed! As for waiting until the craziness to stop? I’d be waiting forever! My goals are important to me and I know it’s going to take work to get there, even without the nutty schedule I’ve got right now.
The point I’m trying to reinforce is that if we want to find an excuse or a ‘reason’ to do or not do something, we will always find it. There will always be something that’s ‘not convenient,’ such as working late, being sick, having a lot of errands, feeling stressed, or just not ‘feeling like it.’ I know at the pool, the classes have been getting smaller and smaller, partly I am sure due to the colder weather, and partly because of the upcoming holidays. People are busy and that’s their choice, but if you claim you are ‘working hard’ towards your goals, then why are you letting excuses get in your way?
There are a lot of people, including some of my friends, who look at how busy my life is and tell me that I’m entitled to take a day off. I think they’re right, especially since the last time I let myself get run down, I caught a cold. I also know that skipping my classes doesn’t make me feel better- it adds to my stress because ‘now I missed a workout!’ I’d rather make my workout, do something I enjoy doing with people I like and feel better mentally and physically. If my workouts don’t make me feel better, then I am not going to do them, and neither should you! I chose these classes because I like how they make me feel- getting the exercise and building strength are bonuses to me. They are what I want to do and what I would be doing with my time if Real Life weren’t getting in my way, so they are not a sacrifice or a burden- they are my ‘fun time.’
I’ve heard it said that we make the time for things that are important to us, and I believe that is true. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Thomas Paine: “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.” I remind myself of that often. If it didn’t cost us anything, then we don’t value it enough. That’s why I make the time for workouts and for eating healthy. Getting this far has been a lot of work and effort and throwing it away to eat chips and burgers and other junk food is simply not an option for me. Finding workout classes that I enjoy was more effort and time as well as money, so throwing those away aren’t options either! These things- my health and my happiness- are important to me, which is why I will be driving to the gym after work and then driving to my mom’s to feed and play with the dogs and then driving home to throw together a salad and reheating rotisserie chicken for the hundredth time! (FYI: not taking care of her dogs is also not an option!) I worked hard to get here, and I’m not going to hop through some ‘excuse loophole’ to cheat myself out of my hard work!