Do you ever get sick of seeing the image of a fit woman with her umpteen children and the caption that reads something like"no excuses!"?
Yeah. Me too.
While I understand the mindset behind these ads and the emotion they are trying to evoke, as a coach it makes me cringe. These ads are JUST. NOT. PRODUCTIVE. To me, they are the equivalent of bullying. And, as someone who has studied behavior change, you simply can't bully anyone into making a change they aren't ready to make. Furthermore, it's not my job to judge a client and decide which "excuses" are worthy of acceptance. It is my job to help them dig deeper, and figure out what is really standing in the way of making change.
Listen, we all make excuses. Thursday, Ethan woke up with a fever and was really wanting to be held. I could have rocked him back to sleep and made him nap in his crib but, I passed up my workout to hold him, stare at him and cuddle him. It's been months since he's allowed me to do that and it was better for my psyche than that 20-minute workout I was going to try to eke out. Am I bad for choosing snuggles over a workout? Nope. I made a decision that was the best for both of us in that moment and accept my decision.
Personally, I only make "excuses" when I don't feel I can trust the receiving end to be gentle with me. So, when I hear a trainer bashing a client for their excuses or I see one of the aforementioned ads, I immediately wonder about that person's ability to accept others and whether or not that client trusts their trainer.
So, how do we move past making "excuses" or, recognize when our own "excuses" are bull?
First and foremost, if you're working with a coach that you feel like you're constantly making excuses to, or that you feel you can't talk openly with, it's time to reexamine your relationship.
Secondly, set goals. If you don't have something to work towards, what's the reason? Collaborate with someone who knows about goal setting so that the goals are achievable and reasonable. If you set your goals too high too fast, you may also be setting yourself up for failure. And, the closer to failure you feel you're getting, the less likely you are to commit. I'm not saying don't dream big, but dream big in small steps.
And finally (and most importantly) take responsibility for your actions- acknowledge the excuse, accept the excuse, and be truthful with yourself about what the excuse actually means. Excuses don't make you bad, but too many may that somethings needs to change for those regular gym sessions to occur. For instance if you missed your gym session because work ran late [again], was that the real reason you didn't work out? Did you really get out of work too late or, did work only run over twenty minutes and you were tired from staying up too late the night before playing drinking games with your husband while watching the Bachelor?!? And if it were the later, is time watching the Bachelor more important than getting in a workout? Ok then, let's figure out how to get them both on your schedule.
Ultimately however, excuses are really just decisions. Decisions to not do the thing you were supposed to do. Decisions to live your life according to your own schedule isn't a bad thing but, when it causes internal conflict or causes failure to meet your goals, reflection is needed.
Before a coach can meet you where you are, YOU have to know where you are coming from and how ready you are to make a change. Before you can meet your goals, you have to know what you're willing to do to meet those goals.
Nobody is perfect because life is not perfect. Things come up that force us to make decisions. Don't feel ashamed of your life and your reasons for not doing something. Own your decisions and allow yourself to live by your own rules.