We all know the humorous one-liners associated with excuses, though to a man or woman, when it comes to physical fitness the tried and true few are still trotted out. This post has absolutely nothing to do with excuse shaming (even if their utterance really is a shame). This post is about beating them. How you can do it, or my experience in doing it. The origin of this post began at Ironbuttz where they suggest something I’ve never thought of – “every time you create some lame excuse for not working out you have to put a big, bold red [dot] on the calendar for that day. If you get too many in a week this will make you feel bad, thus–possibly encouraging you to do better! Visual stimulation to get motivated has been proven to work…”
Brilliant! What if we take that a step further though? What if, instead of simply relying on feeling bad if we see too many red dots, we use those red dots to change our behavior? To modify it?
For instance, I’m due to go out for a ride with my friends. The forecast shows the temperature will be an excellent one degree above freezing. Folks, we’re probably going for 40 miles and it’ll be barely above freezing the whole way. If ever there were a reason to find a few excuses to stay at home, these conditions are it. I want the ride though. I know if I simply dress for the conditions, I’ll be perfectly fine (I just have to be careful not to overdress). Now I definitely have my limits, I’ll only go so cold before enough is enough and I’m spinning on the trainer in the living room or running instead (I can handle running down to -11 F or -24 C).
First, if you want to be hard, you have to think hard. What is an excuse? An excuse is a thought, a first, pernicious thought. I am not responsible for every thought that pops into my head. It’s what I do with that first thought that counts. So I don’t put a red dot on the calendar for having the initial thought of an excuse – I put a big red dot on the calendar for entertaining the thought, for giving it weight.
Entertaining an excuse to polish the couch with my butt is a sure way to end up feeling like a loser. Other’s may baby themselves, choosing to look at it a softer way and that’s perfectly okay with me. Let me know how you work that depression out.
The point is, when thoughts of kicking my feet up enter the gray matter, my second thought always goes to quashing it. I treat those initial self-defeating thoughts as I do dreams with one little difference; A dream is the brain’s way of taking out the garbage. Quashing a negative thought is my way of taking my brain’s garbage out. Folks, even a CEO had to sweep the floor from time to time.
Most everyone has a weak second, a weak thought from time to time, it’s what I do with those seconds that counts.
We did go on that ride this morning. It was slow, a 17 mph average, but we were taking it easy for one of the guys who fell… Got his wheel turned on a train track and hit the deck. My buddy Mike went down because he hit him… I stopped just in time (almost didn’t get unclipped fast enough though). My friend opened up his brake release and finished the ride with us. That’s tough, baby.
It was cold to start, we all had snot dripping all over ourselves at first but we pressed on and finished happy with the ride. In fact, the ride was quite the blast once we warmed up and then once we got our nerves back after the crash. Nobody was hurt and the damage to Brad’s steed should be minimal. Of course that also meant that Brad hung on at the back except for one pull… Which meant Mike and I did most of the work. 😎
So, to the ramifications for beating your excuses. Well, as I’ve become adept at beating my thought process (I like to call it “changing the tape” – the tape that plays in my head, the one that poisons my happiness), first for my sanity as it pertained to recovery from alcoholism, then in other aspects of my life, any hint of depression has gone the way of the Dodo.
Unfortunately this isn’t a fix-and-forget thing. It gets easier with practice but it takes A LOT of it. My peace of mind is a daily reprieve based upon maintenance. Personally, I tend to include spiritual fitness as well but that’s a personal choice that works for me – it’s not required but it certainly doesn’t hurt. That said, when I maintain myself well, changing the tape (eventually) becomes second nature and occurs almost instantaneously.
Confidence (not arrogance) fills that empty pit of repeated failure and over time I am transformed from someone who struggled to someone who simply suits up and shows up. Done long enough, you can be the person you know you should be. That’s how it worked for me and let me tell you, it’s sexy baby.