There Are No Excuses, Just Reasons

Excuses - we all have them. Whether they are related to work, family, health or household chores, I am sure we could all come up with two or three reasonable excuses for why we have not done something that we intended to do. 

We can get so caught up in these excuses that we begin to accept them as truth. We end up focusing so much on the excuse that we forget about the reason it happened (or didn't happen) and never address the cause.  

Let's take a workplace presentation, for example. 

If you miss a work presentation due to being sick, that is not an excuse, it is a reason. You are physically unwell and cannot attend due to either making yourself worse, infecting others and compromising the presentation. Non-attendance is logical and your illness can be addressed with rest and recovery. 

This would be different to if you don’t want to do said presentation due to a lack of preparation and you decide to call in sick that day. 'Being sick' is your excuse for not being there – in the eyes of your colleagues and clients – but the real reason may be that you were not prepared or confident in the content you were to present. This should be addressed with better time-management or more thorough understanding of the topic, but instead it is treated with rest and recovery, or daytime TV.

Reasons can be correctly addressed, but excuses cannot.

When we want to achieve body composition goals it is very important to understand and acknowledge what has caused the accumulation of fat tissue. This involves looking at the reasons for fat gain, which can then be broken down, addressed and progressively assessed during a program.

Weight gain and/or unsuccessful weight loss attempts are the epicentre of excuses. Everything from children, metabolism, time, cost, carbohydrates and bad trainers - among a million other things - have been used to justify these undesirable outcomes. In truth, there is one reason we gain weight... an energy surplus.

More energy has been consumed than expended over a period of time (usually months or years). The excess energy is stored as fat tissue which leads to alterations in body composition and weight gain. 

Whether you have twelve children or none, it doesn’t matter. You gain fat due to consuming more energy than you expend. There is no doubt that having three children makes it hard to eat well and exercise, but the energy surplus - not the children - is what leads to weight gain.

Once we accept this realisation that we can make progress towards body composition goals. The initial stages of a program will involve assessing current intake and expenditure to identify opportunities in your current regime to increase activity or reduce energy intake.

A personalised solution can take into account children, work, metabolism and any other of the numerous challenges that validly make exercise and nutrition more difficult. The good news is that because there is one reason that we gain weight, there is one reason that we lose it - energy deficit. If we can create an energy deficit through designing, implementing and refining a program, body composition alterations will follow. 

This concept of reasons, not excuses is not about continuing to blame people for being overweight, in fact it quite the opposite. People are not overweight because of being lazy or unmotivated, it is simply an energy surplus.

Sure, being lazy and unmotivated may decrease energy expenditure, create an energy surplus and lead to weight gain. However, you cannot reverse-engineer being overweight to laziness and lack of motivation. Donald Trump could be considered overweight (and slightly crazy) but do you really think he is lazy and unmotivated?

The reality is that children do get sick and you need a quick meal that might be suboptimal, as it gets you through the night. Likewise, you will get stuck in client meetings all day and end up overeating at dinner due to feeling ravenous.

This is OK. What is important is that when you gain weight you understand why it happens, because when you want to lose it, you will be able to do it within your normal lifestyle constraints. 

Weight loss is a lot like turning a car around when you are going down the highway. First you need to realise you are going in the wrong direction, then slow down, turn around and start going the other way. If you put the car into reverse at 100km/h – that won’t end well for anyone.

It doesn't matter that the GPS sent you in the wrong direction to start with or you missed the turn off because your children were playing up in the back seat. The reality of the situation is that you needed to turn around and once you identify and accept this, you can do exactly that. 

The reasons for both weight gain and weight loss are energy balance and the creation of a surplus or deficit. There are numerous lifestyle challenges and priorities that get in the way of exercising more and eating better. However, these are not excuses, they are reasons. By understanding the reasons for an energy surplus you can develop a solution to mitigate it and/or create a deficit. Personalised solutions deliver adherence,  adherence delivers results.