Breaking Through Denial By Identifying Your Excuses
I wrote an article the other day that elicited a strong response from a number of you. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading it here. It will set the stage for the thoughts I’ll share in this article:
If you did read it already, here are a couple key points to summarize:
1. At the end of the day, you’re not losing the weight because it’s not really your priority to do so.
2. You don’t lose weight because the chocolate mousse that was served at your sister’s dinner party over the weekend was more important to you than losing weight.
3. Eating the great pizza, chips, dips and Margaritas your neighbors served at their Super Bowl party was more important than to you than losing weight.
So the next time you start to feel frustrated about the glimpse you catch of your profile in the mirror, instead of feeling frustrated how the last diet you tried didn’t work out, instead sit down and make a list of your priorities in life.
What are the 10 most important things to you in your life?
Is your health and weight really on that list?
If so, where is it?
Really work with your priority list. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.
Look at your actions as the evidence for what truly belongs where. That no-holds-barred honesty may be the first necessary step to getting your priorities solidly in order.
You may think that the Sunday football junk food is far less important than then being healthy when you’re 60 so you can chase your grandkids around the playground, but do your actions tell the same story?
Today, I want to push this conversation a bit further and go a little deeper into looking at your priorities.
If you did the exercise I asked you to (and hopefully it was enough of a priority for you to do so!) where did your health show up on that list. Your top priority? #10 out of 10? Not on the list at all?
If it wasn’t in AT LEAST THE TOP 3, then I really want you to stop and ask yourself “Why”?
Just to reiterate: I don’t mean that it shows up in the top 3 as a way of paying lip service to the idea. I mean that it shows up in your top 3 in terms of your consistent, day-to-day actions and behaviors.
If somebody was watching you from the outside, taking notes and measuring how you spend all of your time, would they objectively agree that it’s in the top 3?
That’s an important question to ask yourself? Again, we’re looking for relentless honesty and relentless reality here. Where are your priorities, REALLY?
I watched a very interesting program last night which hopefully many of you saw as well – or at least recorded to come back to. It’s called Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver. If you didn’t, I believe you can watch it online by going here:
Funny, quirky compassionate young British chef goes to Huntington, West Virginia after it’s named the unhealthiest city in America. If I recall the stats correctly, half the people in the town are clinically obese.
His mission is to start a food revolution in the USA. He wants to get America – in particular our children – off processed high-sugar foods that are cutting our life spans short.
Along the way he encounters a family that exemplifies the problem. They are all seriously overweight, starting from the 4 year old daughter right up to mom and dad.
He begins with a visual exercise. He collects their weekly shopping receipts and goes and buys all the same foods (notice I didn’t say ingredients) again. Brings it back to the house, prepares it all. Puts it out on the kitchen table for everyone to see.
We end up with a MOUNTAIN of processed foods. Frozen pizzas, corn dogs, bacon, hot dogs, snacks, cookies … the works.
Then he sits down with mom and has a heart to heart. She’s already stunned to see it sitting there. The conversation quickly turns to how this is affecting the family’s health – in particular the kids. Mom is tearing up now.
Jamie compassionately but directly tells her that eating these foods is taking years off her kid’s life spans. He says that the research demonstrates these foods will take 12-15 years off their life span.
She’s crying and vows to change. Jamie goes shopping and gets her a refrigerator full of healthy stuff, makes a meal with the family, and then gives them recipes for the week.
Now mind you, he’s not trying to get them to go macrobiotic in a weeks time. In fact, his regimen is not about getting anybody into a size 2. His agenda is to get people eating nutritious food made from raw ingredients rather than consuming chemical-laden sugar-filled foods so they can prevent degenerative diseases.
So he’s not leaving them with recipes for miso soup, steamed tofu and seaweed salad. We’re talking spaghetti and meatballs and salad, chicken and vegetables, etc.
Flash forward a week. Jamie comes back to the house. Goes through the refrigerator. Notices there are a lot of ingredients unused. Hmmmm … a little suspicious.
Asks the 4 year old daughter what her favorite meal from the last week was. Pizza, she says. Hmmmm ….
Notices fast food soft drink cups around the house. Hmmmmm…
In spite of mom’s vows to change, it appears Jamie isn’t fully getting through to this family.
Next, Jamie takes the family to the doctor for check-ups, blood work etc. Doc gets the 12 year old son on the examining table – I think his name was Justin. I’m guessing Justin is well over 200 pounds.
Doc notices discoloration around his neck. Says this is an early warning sign of diabetes. Says Justin may already have diabetes. If he doesn’t, Doc says, he definitely will in the future if he doesn’t make major changes RIGHT NOW in his diet.
Doc takes a blood test, excuses kids from the room. Tells parents and Jamie that diabetes is really a bad condition to have. Leads to blindness, kidney failure, amputations. Will probably cut 30-40 years (yes, you read that right) off his life. Doc sees people dying from heart attacks in their 30’s all the time now.
Mom is crying again by now. They’re waiting for the blood test results to return (takes 10 minutes).
Not an easy 10 minutes for mom and dad as you can imagine –or anyone watching for that matter.
Results come back negative, but the writing is on the wall – change or else this is going to get really bad for Justin. Again, mom and dad vow to change and to help Justin change.
But will they? Hard to say … only time will tell.
So here’s my big question: What is it going to take for mom and dad to make this a SERIOUS priority? What is it going to take for them to ABSOLUTELY NOT ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE?
How bad does it have to get? Justin losing a leg? Going blind? Dying before he’s 30?
When will they finally take this seriously?
When will they stop making excuses in their heads about the urgency of the situation? When will they stop burying their heads in the sand, pretending it isn’t a big deal?
When will they break out of denial?
So what’s the take-away for the rest of us here?
We need to look at the excuses we are selling ourselves to delay making our health a priority in our lives.
What are your excuses?
I urge you to sit down right now and write them out. What are the top 3 or 5 or 10 excuses you’re making right now to delay taking the best care of yourself?
What do you come up with? Is it:
• “I’ll get started after my birthday. I want to be able to celebrate with my friends.”
• “It’s no big deal because I know someday I will totally get it under control.”
• “I know I can control my eating if I want to. I’m just really busy with other things in my life, but I’ll get around to it soon.”
• “When I meet the right person, I’ll definitely lose the weight.”
• “I know I should lose weight, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m smart and it’s not a big deal.”
Really dig deep, and look at how you’re making excuses.
Are you in denial about taking care of yourself properly?
Because this is really the thing: What is truly more important than your health and taking care of yourself? Can you really afford to wait?
Here’s what I know: life is very short, and it’s very precious.
Most of us, fortunately, have the luxury of going about our days and never really having to confront this fact.
We don’t get tragically sick. We don’t lose loved ones in freak accidents.
Our lives continue on as normal.
But at the same time, many people do get those wake-up calls. They lose a loved one in a rare accident and they have to stop and really look at their priorities in life.
Or they get diagnosed with cancer or a lupus or coronary disease, and all of a sudden the life they’ve been taking for granted is so much more precious. Their days are suddenly numbered and everything changes.
Check out this comment from the Point of No Return Coaching Team:
“Hey _______, what does your husband like to cook? Is it stuff that you don’t like to eat since you are making a lifestyle change? My husband knew right away that I was changing the way I eat and that’s the way it was going to be. I was really scared because my cholesterol tested really high and heart disease runs in my family big time!! My oldest brother died at the age of 41 of a heart attack, so I guess you could say I was a bit scared when I looked at my lab results.
I work in a hospital and see plenty of patients, some not much older than me, that are plagued with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and other respiratory problems, and the list goes on. Most of these people are overweight or obese. I am sick of going to my job and seeing some people who can’t get off a ventilator because their health condition has already deteriorated beyond the point of no repair. They have tubes coming out of every orifice of their body, and family members hang out at their bedside with looks of despair on their face. They don’t want to admit to themselves that nothing else can be done.
I’m sorry to vent like this but I have to go to my job tomorrow once again and witness what poor health choices do to people. It just makes me sad I guess.
Whoever is reading this, it is never to late to change and you won’t be sorry you did.”
Talk about being on point. It doesn’t get any more real than that.
I’m not a religious scholar, but one thing I do know is that the great religious – faiths that call upon us to be and do our best and to work for the betterment of our fellow man – all tell us that life is sacred.
They tell us that it is a gift from our Creator – a gift to be cherished and appreciated. Certainly not one to be taken for granted.
Not taking things for granted means not delaying any further. It means taking our lives profoundly seriously – right now. It means committing to doing and being our best. For ourselves and the others in our lives who matter most to us.
If you’re not making this a priority in your life, what are you waiting for? The clock is ticking. Instead of sitting around listening to it, please let it spur you into action.
I’ll leave you with these wise word from Rabbi Hillel, a lawyer and teacher from the first century BC. His teachings centered around these three crucial questions, and I think you’ll find them very relevant to our conversation.
1. If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
2. And if I am for myself alone, what am I?
3. And if not now, when
I hope this serves as a wake-up call to each of us to take the best absolute care of ourselves that we can.