July 21, 2024
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Throw Out Your Excuses to Reach Your Goals

Dear Tanya,

I can imagine that you really hear it all… How do you know the difference between a valid reason or simply an excuse? I’m asking because I find myself rationalizing my overeating and my lack of exercise. I tell myself that I’m entitled to be stressed or that I’m just too busy to cook healthy for myself or to exercise. I’m wondering if I’m making excuses or if I really have legitimate reasons. Although, obviously, I would love to be ‘excused,’ I’m ready to hear the truth!

Signed,

Let’s Be Honest

 

Dear Let’s Be Honest,

I would like to differentiate between an excuse and a reason. My own definition of a reason is a valid answer as to why someone cannot do something. For example, a pregnant woman cannot eat too few calories, the reason is that she has a growing fetus inside her. She can be careful with her food intake but, for the sake of the growing fetus, she cannot restrict herself to an extreme. Someone on a very tight budget cannot afford to buy too many fruits and vegetables, the reason being that she simply cannot budget the extra expense. Someone who has to take medication together with food late at night has a reason as to why he/she needs to eat late at night. These are all examples of valid, non-disputable reasons as to why some people may not be able to diet as well as some other people. 

Webster’s defines a reason as “a thought or a consideration offered in support of a determination or an opinion; a just ground for a conclusion or an action; that which is offered or accepted as an explanation; the efficient cause of an occurrence or a phenomenon; a motive for an action or determination; proof, more or less decisive, a conclusion; principle; efficient cause; final cause; ground of argument.” (www.webster-dictionary.org)

Webster’s definition of an excuse is “to free from accusation, or the imputation of fault or blame; to clear from guilt; to release from a charge; to justify by extenuating a fault; to exculpate; to absolve; to acquit. (www.webster-dictionary.org)

An excuse is something we tell ourselves, or lie to ourselves about, just to get out of something, or make ourselves feel better about not doing something. Excuses are imaginary barriers between a person and his/her goal. We may be aware of our excuses and use them anyway, or we may even truly believe the excuse to be a reason, further blocking our goal from being within reach. Below are the most popular excuses I hear as to why people think (remember, it’s in the mind) that they cannot achieve their goals.

 

If you say…

“I have no time.”

My response is…

True, we are all busier than ever and many women work a few jobs, manage a household, etc., yet somehow we still find time to do the things we like. Recently, at my daughter’s PTA, I noticed that every single parent was busy on his/her smartphone while waiting for their turn. I don’t know if they were doing work or just checking out social media sites but the multitasking was definitely there. According to marketingcharts.com, the average person spends three hours or more on some days on social networking sites. That’s a lot of time one could have spent exercising, or cutting up a salad for the next day. The bottom line is that we always find time for what we want to find time for and what we view as priority.

 

If you say…

“I have no support system.”

My response is…

It is very hard to diet when no one else around you is doing the same. This is true for both adults and children. However, you can create your own support system by enrolling in a program and getting the support from either your nutritionist or other members on the plan. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 55 percent of registry participants used some type of program to achieve their weight loss. Another idea is to create that support system within your family where everyone gets to take turns making a healthy dinner, or give the rest of the family an exercise “class” right in the living room.

 

If you say…

“I have bad genes.”

My response is

While research has shown that when there is a family history of obesity one is at risk of being obese as well, this does not mean that one is doomed to be overweight. Many times it is more so the acquired lifestyle and habits around food (think deep frying and celebrating everything with food) than the actual genes. I have worked with entire families on restructuring their kitchens and mindsets, and we successfully beat this genetics “curse,” which turned out to be more a reflection of lifestyle than heredity.

 

 If you say…

“It is too expensive.”

My response is…

A sandwich costs under $5 while a salad can cost $10 or more. A slice of pizza is $2, whereas a fish dish can be $15 or more. Fruits and vegetables added to an already-long shopping list can definitely stretch a budget. Most people, however, spend money on plenty of non-necessary items. I have heard from clients that they cut elsewhere (fewer cleaning lady hours, one less wash and set) just to afford a healthier diet. Barring extreme situations, I think that affording to eat healthy can become feasible. Many people think they need expensive equipment or a gym membership in order to exercise. There are so many inexpensive options such a DVD, hula hoop, or even stairs! Plus, let’s not forget that walking/jogging is absolutely free!

If you say…

“I will probably gain all the weight back.”

My response is…

We all know someone who lost a lot of weight and has gained it back, and it makes it seem like exercise is not worth the effort. However, I have seen hundreds of people keep their weight off successfully, if they continue to be mindful. A priceless factor of eating healthy and exercise are the health benefits and new habits one develops when making lifestyle changes. Although these benefits can not be quantified by a number, the way the scale does for us, they are more long-term and beneficial for our health.

 

 If you say…

“I have to exercise really intensely to see results.”

My response is…

The recommended amount is actually only two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. Another way to do this is one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. This can be broken down into small segments of even just ten minutes at a time; run up and down the stairs while watching your kids, hula hoop while supervising playtime, or even just walk to your errands instead of driving. Results are not limited to weight loss. Many people find that their mood improves, they have more energy and focus better thanks to exercise. Endorphins, dubbed as “the feel-good hormone,” get released after just 10 to 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. 

In my years of working with many different people and hearing their stories, I’ve noticed that it is generally not one’s circumstances that determine success but rather one’s determination. I have worked with women who have full-time help and the time and money to buy all the necessary foods, and still cheat on a plan and do not reach their goals. I have also worked with plenty of women who have no help, no extra money to spend and no extra time, yet are determined and succeed. So go ahead, throw your excuses and your junk food out, and get started on a journey to achieve your goals.

 

Reader questions for this column are welcomed!

Tanya Rosen, M.S CAI CPT, is a nutritionist, personal trainer and owner of Nutrition by Tanya with locations in Monsey, Flatbush, Boro Park, Williamsburg and Lakewood. Tanya is the creator of the TAP (Tanya Approved Products) line available on her website, offices and select supermarkets, offering all-natural, low-calorie delicious snacks and food. Tanya is also the creator of the Shape Fitness Kosher workout DVDs for ladies and teens, available in all Judaica stores. Tanya can be reached at 844-TANYA-DIET or via email at [email protected]. You can check out her website by visiting www.nutritionbytanya.com.

Tanya Rosen

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