“A reason, either true or invented, that you give to explain or defend your behavior” – Oxford Dictionary definition of Excuse
I am on social media every single day promoting my wellness business, that also means scrolling through and seeing what other fitness & wellness professionals are up to. Every few posts or ads announce, “Stop making Excuses!” List after list of easy solutions that you can implement immediately to stop the insanity of your constant excuse making! Get to the gym and eat a damn vegetable, it’s really that simple or is it? That tag line has always made me cringe so when it slapped me across the face early this morning It made me think! This isn’t helping the real issue and it is just another way to shame people. What better way to make people who are struggling and to feel even worse about themselves and force them to change! There is so much more to this, then my next thought was let’s dissect this 🤔
Is every single person out there making excuses? Could it be deeper than that? This is not a one size fits all surface thing, but it is an ingrained response that has caused you to tell yourself a very specific story. What happened to make you believe this was the way you have to live your life forever? Here are just a few examples of “excuses” that people have told me.
- I don’t have time!
- I hate to exercise!
- I can’t afford to eat Whole Foods!
- My kids take up all my time!
- I don’t want to stop drinking!
- I have no time for myself!
- I have to take care of ………..!
Are these excuses or is this real life? In my 23-year career I have worked with many women, men and children and at some point during our relationship there has definitely been times where they weren’t ready to change their behaviors. When it comes to consistently exercising or eating well, I have heard it all but were those just excuses? Or are they beliefs or even responses to a past experience? Throughout the different stages of change in my life there have also been years of stagnation and if someone had told me that I was just making excuses during that time I would respond by shutting down and ending that relationship. After many years of taking a look inside myself and really dealing with my feelings I realized that I feared change. I didn’t trust that changing my actions would give way to a new or better outcome, so I chose to stay stuck. It wasn’t until I was ready to start telling myself a new story and take action towards creating the life that I really wanted that things began to change. I found that once I began to live my entire life in the truth, I don’t have to make excuses for anything anymore it is simply a matter of I don’t want to do that or I really want to do this and what am I willing to do to get there?
What we, as wellness & fitness professionals, experience with our clients is the in between and no I am not talking about Stranger Things. Instead of exacerbating the situation and keeping them in shame by telling them I don’t want to hear your excuses just do it! I really invite you to hear what they are saying to you, meet your clients where they are at have open, honest and empathetic conversations.
We can start asking our clients, what’s stopping you from making these changes in your life? Would you like to try something different? Are you happy with the way your life is now? No? What are you open to doing differently? I get much more thoughtful answers a from people and I’m noticing that they don’t shut down and I never hear from them again.
That’s part one, part two is for you, the fitness & wellness professional start by taking an honest look at yourself. I invite you to ask yourself why are you getting so frustrated with your clients? Why is this triggering for you? Have you ever experienced struggles with your food and exercise? How did you pick yourself back up after a failure? When you’re dealing with other people you must think about these things. Longevity with our clients comes from trust. Have you asked yourself the same questions that you ask your clients? I’d like you to think about these questions. What’s stopping you from doing X Y Z, what’s holding you back? If we think we have all of the answers by doing things one way, then maybe you might need to rethink how you are treating your clients. We all deserve to be met where we are at. Guiding someone to figure out their own way is different than telling them what they are doing is wrong. Having an open, trusting relationship with not only the people you work with but everyone in our lives is the goal. We play a huge part in our clients’ lives, why not let it be a positive experience. Learn to create a safe space for them to trust the process and do their best every day. We are all individuals who deserve compassion and happiness. Accept that that looks different for everyone. Clear this space from shame, guilt & punishment instead embrace that we are here to guide, coach, teach self-awareness and self-confidence.