A word of caution.
This image popped up in my IG feed recently (hello November, where did you come from?) and from what I can tell, it’s a challenge meant to motivate you into finally doing that thing you’ve been talking about forever. Eat that kale! Join that gym! No laziness allowed! Go go go! Now listen, I am ALL for goal setting, and you know I love a good challenge (see my last blog about doing Whole30 for a second time) but I do want to say a few things about this idea of “no excuses”.
As a human who wears many, many hats (can you relate?) - professional dancer, social media manager, Nutrition and Wellness coach, full-time receptionist, friend, girlfriend, woman in a long-distance relationship, regular sufferer of FOMO, it is very easy for me to set too many goals for myself in a week. And when I do, I almost always fall short. Because what I was trying to accomplish wasn’t realistic to me and my current lifestyle. That’s not an excuse, that’s reality.
For example, over the summer I was very into 6am yoga classes before spending my day sitting in an office, but I could only maintain that for a short time before naturally it stopped making sense for my body. When my alarm would go off at 5am and I would hit snooze because I was actually too exhausted to get up (not just your classic morning sleepiness) I would have this feeling of helplessness because I knew I had set this g-o-a-l for myself, but also, my body was clearly telling me that I needed rest. The reality here was that in addition to my day job, I also regularly had evening rehearsals after work that went until 9:00 and 10:00pm, or a social engagement, or just needed that extra hour to unwind before bed… It didn’t make sense for me to hold myself accountable for that morning class if it meant that I would be denying myself the rest I needed. And it didn’t make sense that I was beating myself up over not reaching my goal, if the goal itself wasn’t actually serving the purpose it was originally intended for – which was to make me feel good.
When I see things like #noexcusenovember pop up in my feed, it makes me a little nervous. We’re all susceptible to pushing too hard and not listening to our bodies. Especially as women trying to maintain status in today’s world - whatever that means to you and your story. I want to make sure that we’re aware of the difference between an “excuse” and the realities of our lives and situations. And that we are approaching goal-setting from a place of empowerment and self-efficacy.
I would like to change #noexcusenovember to #nowsthetimenovember. If you’re feeling like you have some juicy goals you’ve been meaning to approach and NOW IS THE TIME, that’s super exciting! Here are a few ideas I work with my clients on when we start to talk about nutrition and wellness as lifestyle, and how to even begin incorporating those things into your busy life:
1. Goal setting is good, but it needs to be realistic.
If you never go to the gym, or are out of the routine of hitting that yoga or HIIT class on the regular, saying that you’re going to start doing these things every day right off the bat might not serve you in the way you are hoping. Never exercise? A good goal might be to hit a class or go for a run once or twice a week to start. Once that becomes part of your routine (aka you are starting to create habits) you can decide to increase or maintain your routine. Want to incorporate more nutrient-dense food choices into your meals? Find a hearty and healthy recipe that makes your mouth water and nourish your body with that. Maybe you start dedicating one night a week to cooking at home, and taking leftovers with you for lunch the next day and then see where that takes you. Need more sleep? Ugh, I feel you! Something what works for me is writing “Be Home” in my planner one evening a week to make sure that I have at least one night to myself to dedicate to rest. Do what feels good to you and your lifestyle. And be kind to yourself while you are in the process of change.
2. Is that an “excuse” you’re using, or do you genuinely need a break?
Be careful that you’re not pushing through actual warning signs that your body is giving you. Inflammation in the form of aching joints or sore muscles, mental exhaustion, even guilt that you missed a workout – none of these are healthy or sustainable ways to achieve a goal. I’m not saying that we all don’t need to push ourselves out the door sometimes, but know the difference between tough-love and torture.
3. You are not lazy.
Or a worthless POS. You do not need to bully yourself into creating or maintaining health goals. If you feel like you have fallen into some unhealthy habits and are struggling to make changes, there is probably a good reason for this. And it’s not that you suck. Survival manifests itself in a lot of different ways. Change is always there when you’re ready for it.