Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Barriers To Losing Weight: Excuse 3

In my 'Barriers To Losing Weight' posts, I will outline some of the biggest obstacles (some self-imposed and some not) that previously prevented me from getting in shape. I will also describe how I overcame these obstacles, in the hope I aid someone else in doing the same.

3) I just don't have time to exercise.

Haven't done one of these posts in a while, despite having a list of them all ready. I think that once I started to shift the pounds, my old excuses seemed lame and pathetic (which they often were), so I stopped trying to reason them out. I've already talked about putting it off until tomorrow and feeling like you don't deserve to be slim, but the excuse above is one I also made, and one some people will still use, and feel its justified. I don't claim to have any universal answers - all I can do is explain how I overcame the barrier myself.

People are always busy. I don't know anyone who can truly claim to have completely free time. We fill our days with various jobs and chores and activities, and they then expand to fill the time allotted for them (Parkinson's Law in effect!). Heck, I even plan my free time - if I decide to watch a DVD in a spare couple of hours, that is then on the to-do list, and that time is filled.

I guess the first thing to do is to evaluate your day, and count up all those 'dead' hours doing things like watching TV, or putting your feet up, or browsing the internet. I can spend full days doing nothing BUT that, and by the end of the day I will feel I've not had a spare moment...but I won't have achieved anything. People will say they need to rest, that their jobs are hectic and stressful and they need those few hours in front of the TV to unwind. Well, exercise is a great stress-reliever too, once you get into it, so one just has to make the decision to work out. You have to decide what you want more - one more episode of that favourite TV show, or one more pound dropped this week.

And that's another thing people with genuinely busy lives will have to do - decide what they really want. Its all very well saying you would like to lose weight, but just don't have the time for it. The problem is, that's passive - you are placing yourself in a hopeless position, a victim of your own schedule. You have to be active in your decision to lose weight. Those pounds aren't going to burn themselves. The whole point is to get out of your comfort zone - obviously things can't stay as they are, as the way they are has caused you to gain weight. You have to put weight-loss on an equal footing with your other commitments, not allow exercise to be the first thing you cancel when your day fills up. It should be the one thing you NEVER cancel!

It can be a very difficult decision though. You might have to cancel some of your after-work activities, or wake up an hour earlier each day, or say no to your friends if they want to meet up for that weekly coffee catch-up. You'll feel like you're letting other people down (when really you're letting yourself down by avoiding exercise). You'll feel tired and grouchy (but losing weight is never going to be as easy as gaining it). You'll feel like you're missing out on things you like, and then the diet becomes the enemy, something you resent (in which case, you have to remind yourself that the diet is your friend, only its a 'tough-love' friend trying to help you shift the pounds you hate).

I guess for me, I just had to switch the argument around. I couldn't go on saying "I have too much stuff to do, so I can't exercise". That's never going to change. You'll NEVER have time to exercise using that argument, so you will NEVER lose the weight. Instead, you have to bite the bullet, and say "I HAVE to make some time for exercise, so that I can lose weight". By all means, say you are only putting things on the back-burner for a while, rather than cutting them from your life completely. You can go back to that book club, rejoin that amateur dramatic society etc etc AFTER you've lost the weight. But for now, you have to decide what you really want - do you WANT to get slim, or do you want things to stay as they are?

This was a hard post to write, since as I don't really have any answers (because everyone's circumstances are different), it sounds like I'm having a go at people who still make this excuse. Some people will have commitments which don't feature for me at all, notably children who need taking care of. That's obviously a difficult one, but I guess getting fit and being healthy will allow you to spend better quality time with your family, and MORE time, once the health dangers of obesity no longer apply. Its going to be a heck of a transition, trying to fit in exercise around school pick-ups and dinners etc etc, but if you have the support of family etc, that might make it easier. Not easy, but easier - losing weight is never going to be easy...there is always going to be something that gets in the way, and we all have to make sacrifices in order to realise our goal weight...

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