12 Mar

I’m often asked about my exercise or nutrition habits given that I’m sure I’m seen as that “crazy running woman” by many of my work colleagues  who aren’t crazy fit people. Well crazy maybe, but fit, no.  Many of them have only really known me since I’ve been running marathons or the one and only Ironman (mind you, that consumed 12 months of my life in training and competing in shorter events leading up to the big one) and so have come to the conclusion that I’ve always been like that – crazy and fit and healthy. That chocolate never passes my lips, or that I sleep in, skip a workout, eat fast food (actually I generally don’t because I like to eat real food), and that I don’t have blah days and off weeks. Fortunately my friends know better. Because the fact is, I am like everyone else and I too have to constantly ignore that annoying little voice in my head (what do you mean no-one else has this problem?!) that says skip a workout because missing one won’t hurt, or says, go on, have that Magnum ice-cream or Lindt chocolate or the hazelnut torte because you know you  deserve it, or sleep in because you can run (or do weights, a spin class, whatever) later – but you know deep down that really won’t happen, and so on. Surprising as it may seem, I don’t wake every morning at 5am and go “yippee, so looking forward to running 8km this morning before brekkie.” I know……strange.

If I waited for motivation to strike I’d still be waiting because motivation really doesn’t happen all too often. I might be briefly motivated after a Christmas day binge, or a choc fest over Easter, or knowing that I’m catching with old school friends I haven’t seen in years, or the start of each year, but this type of motivation doesn’t last. It’s a reaction to what has happened (overeating combined with no exercise, or because of some impending event where you think you’ll be judged on who you look, such as reunions, weddings, holidays) but once the novelty has worn off, or the event has happened, then it’s a case of reverting to old habits. So nothing’s changed except you feel more of a failure therefore eat more and exercise less and gain more weight. Confirms your belief that you’re a loser. After all, you’ve just proved it.

And that’s when people ask me how I do what I do. You know, like get up and run or go to the gym before work. Not for one or two days but every day, every week. Or eat healthy  meals and snacks most of the time (ok I’m no angel but in the main, I stick to healthy food). They want to know how to knock off a few kilos and get fitter but you can see their eyes start to glaze over and the shutters come down when I mention words like consistency, preparation, and basically no excuses. Initially they seem keen and really want to this, and they’re full of enthusiasm and gosh, they’re going to turn their life around and this year they’re to be the fittest and slimmest they’ve been in years. And then the excuses start. “I just can’t wake up in the morning.” “I’m not a morning/afternoon/night person.” “I don’t eat breakfast.” “I’d go after work but I’m so busy and I never know when I’ll get out the door.” “I don’t enjoy exercise.” “I have children.” “It’s too hard preparing separate meals – one for me and one for the rest of the family.” “My partner brings home chocolate, fast food, pizza, beer, chips, etc.” “It’s too cold, hot, wet, windy, dark, etc.” “I can’t afford a gym membership.” “I’m not a gym person.” “I don’t do fruit and vegetables.” “What do you mean, I have to give up my daily coke, king size latte, muffin, chocolate bar, etc.” And so on. Trust me, I’ve a heard a few! And I’ve even used a few of them too so don’t go pulling the wool over my eyes!

Last year was a huge wake up call for me. At the start of the year I was on top of my game, so to speak. I was fit, running well, training for a marathon, turned fifty, feeling fit and fantastic. Then something happened. I took my eye off the ball and the avalanche started – injury, sickness, stress due to study and work overload. Exercise went out the window, followed closely by healthy eating, which just exacerbated everything. I was miserable, but strangely in all that misery I was still making excuses about why I couldn’t exercise and why I couldn’t eat healthy and nutritious food in appropriate portions. It was easier to  feel and be miserable than to do something about it. I wanted to stay in bed in the morning rather than get up and out in the cold. I wanted that sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and by golly, no-one was going to stop me. I gained 10 kg. Nothing in my wardrobe fitted. I was too comfortable being uncomfortable and didn’t want to put the effort in to improve the situation. It was all too hard. So I know where people are coming from when they know they have to change their life but don’t know where to start or find it all too hard. They’re in their comfort zone and moving out of it requires mental and physical energy and let’s face it, discomfort.

But excuses won’t get you where you want to be – they only move you further away. It’s really just a case of getting out there and doing it day after day after day. Consistency is key. I know it doesn’t sound sexy but neither does cleaning your teeth – and you do that every day! It has to become habit. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, just that you give it a go and when you have a bad day, just get back into it the next.


And on that note, I went to the gym for a weights session plus ran a couple of kilometres on the treadmill so run #104 has been ticked off. That was between washing, studying, cooking and shopping. The long weekend has passed me by….again.


4 Responses to “Excuses”

  1. Strewth 12/03/2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Great post Cathy and oh so true! But even so, you are an inspiration with your determination and commitment! Your socks do look pretty:) xx

  2. runJulesFar 13/03/2012 at 7:20 am #

    Thanks for that Cathy – actually just what I need to hear right now (as i am trying to ramp up my marathon training)….!

  3. Steve 13/03/2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Love JFDI, that’s all that is needed.

  4. Ewen 13/03/2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m motivated to run every day because I know you’re only 3 days ahead 😉

    Yes, easy to come up with excuses – like that girl who quit the BL last night. If she’d been on Michelle’s team she would have got the JFDI lecture.

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