I have seen a common thread among those who fail at changing their lifestyle. That thread I am referring to is that of excuse making! We all have them and we all know deep down that they hinder our efforts to succeed in every way.
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer in his book, Excuses Begone! states that excuses if used enough become a reality within our own minds even if they are not true. He call’s these states of mind, “memes”, named after a branch of Psychology called Memetics. Memes are nothing more than a certain perception, understanding, view, or paradigm that we hold in our mind that we treasure as truth.
Memes can be good or bad. For example, in my own life I choose to entertain the meme that I am a “work-horse” and my actions follow through on a daily basis. If kept in proper balance this meme serves me in a positive way. On the other hand I have seen many people suffering with negative memes. I will list a few of them below as they pertain to achieving and maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle.
- “I just don’t have time to workout”
- “I am way too busy to get to the gym or go running today”
- “I am too stressed to eat right”
- “Eating clean is too time consuming”
- “Eating healthy is expensive and time consuming”
- “I don’t have the self-control to reach my fitness goals”
- “I have failed in the past so why try now”
- “That’s just the way I am”
- “I can’t lose weight because of my genetics”
- “My family does not support my efforts so I cannot succeed in my goals”
- “It’s just my luck”
I could go on for four more pages of excuses and memes but I think you get the point. I can hear many of you thinking right now…”well those aren’t necessarily excuses; those are merely realities to be dealt with. Ok, I will not disagree entirely with that contention, BUT what I want to point out in the following recovery program is that ALL of the aforementioned excuses are memes…that is they do not have control over us, and they are not foregone conclusions. It really boils down to what our priorities are and what we need to do to change them. In this weeks blog I will share the first 5 and next week I will conclude.
Step: #1 Recognize that an excuse in just that…an excuse!
This sounds simple enough but it is the hardest step of them all. It is hard to get past our ego’s that constantly stand on guard and try to defend our self made realities (excuses) as though we are merely helpless victims that have no say in what happens to us or our ability to change our lives for the better.
Step #2: Recognize that your excuses are barriers to changing your lifestyle.
Once we know that we are making excuses (step #1), we are then able to be proactive and realize that our excuses are actual barriers standing in the way of our health and fitness success. This is a step of realization and reality check. Please use this step as an opportunity to change your perceptions of your “false realities”. Take each excuse in isolation and put it under an magnifying glass…ask yourself how this particular excuse has helped you succeed in the past and then be honest enough with yourself to recognize that it hasn’t. This may sound cheesy, but I encourage you to give it an honest effort…you will find this to be extremely helpful in weeding out the excuses in your life.
Step #3: Be the opposite!
Here is where I want you to be proactive. I want you to literally write down every excuse that you can think of. Write it on a piece of paper with a line down the middle. In the first column write down your excuse, and then in the second column write down the exact opposite. For example, if you use the common excuse of “I don’t have any time”, you would then write down the opposite of, “I am creative and capable enough to find time to workout”. The real key here is to act on the opposite statements that you are writing down. Your subconscious mind will only start to believe the opposite statements if and when you start to live that way. Please do not skimp on this step…it is vital to your progress.
Step #4 Create a success road map.
Now that you have all your excuses written down and you are actively trying to do their direct opposite, you will now benefit by putting together a plan of attack. A synonym for this might be goal setting. I suggest the following steps for your road map.
-Step #1: Begin from the end. What do you ultimately want to accomplish? Take a picture of somebody you would like to look like. Keep in mind if you are over 50 and you pull out a picture of a 25 year-old bodybuilder you are setting yourself up for failure. Please remember to stay realistic.
-Step #2: Have a plan A and B and Possibly C. This is where preparation is paramount. Say for example fast food is a weakness of yours because you like the convenience. To overcome this you would plan your healthy meals the night before OR you can plan to eat somewhere healthier instead of a fast food joint. Prepare daily! There truly is no substitute for this! I promise you that you need to have back up plans for the tough times.
-Step #3: Plan around your weaknesses! It makes no sense to plan for your strengths…that is why they are your strengths! It is your weaknesses that impede you every time! So when making your goals plan, your attack plan directly targeted at your weakness! For example, let’s say that you are a mid-night snacker, and it is contributing to weight gain. A sensible plan would be to make sure that you are prepared in the day time and that you are eating more healthy frequent meals so that you don’t feel famished by the night time.
Step 5: Switch Paradigms!
Remember that your current mindset is filled with excuses that have kept you where you are at right now…in a stagnant state filled with no victories! What I want you to do, is to start thinking differently. Steps 1-3 will help you with this immensely! Be positive rather than negative. Be optimistic rather than pessimistic. Be happy rather than depressed! Sometimes we like to think of ourselves as helpless little victims that have no choice in the matter when in fact we have all the say in the world. Even your mood is a decision you make.
I promise you that you have the ability to change your mind so that all of those tired, worn-out excuses do not make it into your mind! It will take time, discipline and hard mental work but you must do it or you will fall victim to your current mindset that has gotten you nowhere so far.
Well there you have it my friends! Next week I will delve into the next 5 steps that can effect positive changes in your life. Until then stay positive and APPLY what you have learned today. Remember that life truly is good!