Do you make excuses for not eating healthily or working out? Are they really just excuses or symptoms of something else bothering you. Something deeper inside your mind that you probably either don't know is there (subconscious) or something you don't want to admit is an issue (like emotional eating, for example). I call these health roadblocks.
What's a health roadblock?
The critical among us would just pass them off as the same thing as 'excuses'. I think that's little harsh, as I've always thought many 'excuses' can often be signs of something we're struggling with deep inside.
I'll give you a personal example: back when I was a care-free university student (read: lots of free time and even some disposable income!) I used to love the gym and go at least 5 times a week. Motivation at this point in my life was not an issue, and neither was time.
Then I graduated, got a full time job, started freelancing on the side, got married, had a child and ended up working from home full time, while caring for my father, who has been diagnosed with vascular dementia.
I quit the gym because after 5 years of being a devoted member, I was no longer going as often as I wanted to or getting my money's worth. I told myself that I'd just exercise at home. The trouble is, I didn't exercise at home for months after quitting the gym. The story I told myself (or excuse, if you like) was the usual:
"I haven't got the time"
"It's impossible to workout at home with a toddler running around... and all his toys all over the floor"
"I have no child care"
"I can't get up earlier to workout, I survive on 4 hours of broken sleep as it is!"
"I'm just too exhausted to workout in the evenings after a day of working, parenting, and caring for others"
Are these just excuses or signs of something more?
For anyone with a genuinely busy life - which is probably most of us - kids, career, business, perhaps even the care of elderly relatives, these 'excuses' sound completely plausible. You've probably even said them yourself.
I really do believe they are valid concerns and some 'excuses' can be solved with simple logistical 'hacks', if you like, to get around them. Like for instance, breaking down one-hour workouts into 3 lots of 20 minutes of exercise throughout the day, to fit into a packed out daily routine. (I discuss more 'time hacks' in the Health Mindset Programme !).
Other 'excuses', require a bit more investigation and some may appear to be all about one thing, but are really about something else.
Let me explain. For me, what was really stopping me from hitting my goals after I became a mum, wasn't time at all, but a lack of help with my son. Most of this was even my fault! I just never asked for help, I assumed that as a mother, it was just expected of me to "do it all" and even to "do it all the time, all by myself". (I should add that it didn't help that I suffered from Post Natal Depression for over a year after my son was born!)
Does this sound like you? Do you have this feeling hidden underneath anything you wish you could do but don't?
So my health roadblock, while I always thought it was lack of time, was actually about how I value myself relative to how I value the needs of others: I just didn't see my own needs as being as important as everyone else's. I didn't value myself enough to ask for help or put myself first. I thought taking time out to exercise was 'selfish'when I should be cleaning the house, cooking dinner, working, playing with my son - doing pretty much anything, that wasn't exclusively for my own benefit.
Of course, it isn't selfish to exercise! It's an essential part of your health routine, the same as eating, sleeping, brushing your teeth. I had every right to ask for someone to watch my son for me while I took time out to exercise and shower.
Ah, showers! Speaking of which - when I first became a mum, I used to go days without showering because I felt guilty asking for someone to hold my son! Needless to say, my husband didn't suffer from any of these blocks and had no guilt about taking showers, going out for a walk (sans pram), leaving the house for work, or even going out to socialise! I envied his lack of guilt, and no parent should feel guilty for showering or exercising FFS!
So I set about working on my mindset and 'health roadblocks' (this is where the idea of the Health Mindset Programme came about!).
After giving birth I had to regroup, take stock of what my ideal daily routine would look like, and breakdown why my days weren't going like that. I needed to value my own health again, up my motivation, clarify what I was really aiming for, figure out how to make healthy cooking and exercise fit into a very busy day. I worked on self-care and prioritising my own needs and health.
Since working on my mindset and finding a few 'time hacks' and systems in place, my daily routine looks incredibly different from that first year of being a new mum, yet I still don't have childcare, and I haven't rejoined the gym either. Most weeks I manage to fit in cardio, weight training, yoga and even daily meditation and breathing exercises, I also spend a lot less time food shopping, deciding what to have for dinner and cooking meals (without having to devote my Sunday's meal prepping). I actually care about myself again, enough to put my health first and ask for help instead of waiting until I have a breakdown.
Developing the Health Mindset
Regular exercise and good nutrition are obviously essential to a healthy lifestyle, but neither of these is sustainable without the right mindset. A healthy mindset includes a positive attitude towards exercise and eating well (i.e. not viewing it as punishment), and caring about yourself enough to care for your body. It also means being able to get back on track with your healthy habits, should life throw a crisis (or multiple) at you and not getting caught up with the dieting or 'clean eating' mindset .
To develop a healthy mindset, there's likely to be barriers in your way which may mask as excuses, and it's these you need to listen out for and investigate.
So what's getting in the way of your health goals? Listen to your own 'excuses' and really drill down into what's behind them. When you hear yourself coming out with an excuse, keep asking yourself "why?", until you've really unpicked what's behind it. This way you'll discover your true health roadblock and will know what you really need to be working on.