You’re a busy woman. Overwhelmed. Barely surviving until bedtime. You know your health is important and year after year you’ve promised yourself that this year will finally be the year you keep those New Year’s resolutions. Yet each year by mid-February, those lofty ambitions are a distant memory and old habits and excuses creep back in. Here are some common excuses and ways you can work around them:
I don’t have time. Yes, you do. We all have the exact same 24 hours each day. You may be busy, but if your health is a priority, take some time to examine what keeps you so busy. Is it work? Children’s activities? Is there anything getting more of your time than it deserves (like, ahem, social media)? Getting healthy doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym. In fact, you don’t have to go to the gym at all. There are countless resources available for quick at-home workouts that are inexpensive or even free! And remember that treadmill you bought three years ago? It’s buried under the clothes you haven’t put away and just dying to be used. So remove the piles of laundry, fire up Netflix and catch up on a show or two while you walk on an incline at a brisk pace!
I’m too tired. Being a busy woman is exhausting. It’s hard to go to bed early and even harder to wake up in the morning. But being sleep-deprived can negatively impact your hormone levels, which can cause weight gain. Make sleep a priority and know how much your body needs to function at its prime. For some, five hours is sufficient. For others, eight is optimal. Rearrange your obligations and do away with unnecessary activities so you can prioritize sleep and regain your natural energy levels.
I’m too out of shape. Getting active isn’t just good for your body; it’s good for your mind, too! Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood. Even a brisk walk around your neighborhood is a great step in the right direction. If you have children, take them with you! The fresh air and exercise will have everyone in better spirits.
I don’t know what to do. There is more diet and exercise information available than ever before. But with all that advice, it can be difficult to know who to listen to. Here’s my suggestion: PICK SOMETHING. Anything. Really. I’ve tried dozens of workout plans during my 10 years in the fitness industry and I’ve discovered something remarkable: THEY ALL WORK. Yep, that’s right. There’s not a single bad workout program out there. The problem is that most people don’t commit to a program long enough to see results. So pick something, stick with it for at least two weeks, and see if it is a good fit for your body and personality. This goes for both fitness and nutrition. Too often we jump ship before we give something a fair shot, then complain that nothing is working. It can’t work if you don’t give it a chance to work.
It’s too expensive to eat healthy. It’s not expensive as you’d think. It’s important to fit fresh foods like lean meats and veggies into your diet, but you don’t have to buy organic or fresh foods unless you have a specific desire to do so. Frozen meats and veggies are very affordable and easy to prepare. And don’t forget about the slow cooker! You can do a quick internet search for healthy slow cooker recipes and find plenty of delicious and affordable healthy recipes. Not ready to overhaul your diet just yet? That’s fine. How about eating less of the foods you already eat? Americans are notorious for overeating, so if you’re not ready to make the leap to salads and grilled chicken, try cutting back on your existing portions by 30 percent. Once you see some progress with that method, you will probably be motivated to start changing your diet.
Okay, now that you have no excuses left and you’ve talked yourself into starting one more time, here are a few tricks to stay on track:
Start small. I know you want to hit the ground running, but if you haven’t run in five years, you’re probably going to pull something. If you do too much too soon, you’ll burn out and have no hope of making permanent changes, especially if you get seriously injured. If you tackle one small habit at a time and give yourself two full weeks to adjust before you start another, by the end of the year you will have TWENTY-SIX new positive habits!
Be accountable. Find a reputable trainer. Find a consistent friend. Find anyone who will help you stay on track, but then don’t get mad at them when they do what you asked them to do. Accountability requires honesty and openness. Sharing struggles and victories with someone can go a long way in keeping you motivated. You can try to go it alone, but few who do enjoy long term success. My company, Fit Like Flint, has a free women’s fitness group on Facebook that is an incredible source of support, accountability and motivation. Check out the resources at the end of this article for more information.
Set SMART goals and write them down. Your goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. A poor goal is: “I want to get healthy.” A SMART goal is: “I will lose 10 pounds by the end of February.” See how the second one meets all the SMART criteria? So make your goals SMART and set no more than three goals at a time.
Strive for progress, not perfection. You’ve probably stepped on the scale after a week of working out and exclaimed, “I only lost one pound!” In this age of extreme makeovers and rapid weight loss schemes, we often lose sight of what reasonable progress looks like. Rarely do people who drop a bunch of weight quickly ever keep it off for very long. So go slow and stay committed. You’re in this for the long haul. Besides, if you “only” lose a pound each week, that’s 10 pounds gone before spring break!
Take progress photos. Of all the fitness advice I dish out, this is the one women like the least. I get it. You’re not crazy about your appearance right now, but here is the absolute truth: every woman I’ve talked to who has lost weight and gotten healthier wishes she had taken photos. No one has to see them. Heck, you can even take them yourself. Set the timer on your camera phone and smile! Or don’t. Whatever. Just take the photos. Why do I harp on this? Because the scale is a liar. Did you know your body composition and overall appearance can change drastically without you losing a single pound? Did you know that if you are dropping fat but adding muscle, you may actually gain weight? The scale is only one measure of progress and it doesn’t tell the whole story. Photos and how your clothes fit are much more telling. So don’t let the scale steal your sanity. Put it away and start clickin’ those pics!
Most of all, make sure you really want to change. Do it for you. Do it for your health. Do it for your peace of mind. No one else can motivate you long-term. That has to come from within.
If you need extra encouragement and support, or just want a place to ask questions, please join my free fitness group on Facebook.