Most of the time, I think our intentions are solid. We genuinely have a desire to take care of our bodies - plan our meals, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. I think that we generally have a good understanding of what it means to do these things.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:17
Excuses are made.
"I am too busy".
"I have small children who need me ALL of the time".
"I don't know how".
"I hurt my knee a few years ago".
"I don't like going to the gym".
"Healthy food is too expensive".
"Nothing has worked in the past".
"I'll start later, when my kids are older".
Fill in the blank with whatever is keeping you from actively working towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Valid or not, these are all excuses we use to talk ourselves out of anything that requires works, effort, sweat and being uncomfortable.
I've compiled a list of 10 ways to STOP MAKING EXCUSES and START STEWARDING YOUR BODY WELL.
- Read your Bible. Yes! This is number one. If you have to choose between reading your Bible and exercising because that is the only free time you have for the day, I'll tell you to read your Bible. Every. Single. Time. NOTHING impacts your health like God's living and active Word. #truth
- Get a Success Partner. Accountability is key in all areas of your life. Especially your health. Ideally this person is someone you trust, someone who will say the hard things you need to hear, someone who you love and respect and someone who loves Jesus. You will be accountable to this person DAILY. This person will correct you in love, commend you for your hard work and effort and will NOT condone negative behaviors. She/he will pray with you and for you. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken".
- Pray. I've talked about this before in my "5 P's of a Successful Fitness Program". Pray about ways to steward your body well. Pray that the Lord will shield you from temptation yet when it strikes, enable you to withstand for Jesus' sake. So many things get in the way of what we know to be healthy, positive acts of obedience. If we arm ourselves against these attacks with the weapons in Ephesians 6:10-17, we will be better prepared for the daily battle. And in verse 18 it says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests".
- Schedule it in. Just like any other important appointment. AND put that calendar where EVERYONE in the family can see. Come up with a system that works for you and your family - whther this a white board, chalk board, calendar, an app on your devices, a refrigerator magnet - WHATEVER. But don't think that you'll exercise "sometime today". 'Sometime' almost always becomes 'never'. In order to bust through the excuse of "I don't have time", you have to PRIORITZE the time. If it's not on your calendar, it's not a priority to you. And then own that. If you find yourself always running out of time to exercise, and you haven't scheduled it in, don't continue to say you don't have time. Instead, the more accurate thing to say is, "I didn't prioritize the time to exercise".
- Be honest. This ties in nicely with #4 & #2. Be honest with yourself if you are consistently making excuses and finding reasons NOT to exercise or plan your family meals, or get enough sleep, etc. Sometimes these reasons and excuses are valid. Sometimes they aren't. You need to know the difference and be honest with yourself. This is also where having a success partner comes in very handy. If you can't be honest with yourself, she should.
- Forget about what others think. You are doing this - living a healthier lifestyle - NOT to please anyone else. If your daughter is worried about you and tells you to exercise more, that's NOT a good reason to start. If your friend has started working out more and asks you to join her, that's NOT a good reason to workout. If your spouse starts to monitor what he eats and cooks healthier meals, that's NOT a good reason to start eating better. All of these are helpful, and it's great to be encouraged by others (I'm a HUGE fan of accountability and), but these reasons should not be your motivation. Find your motivation in CHRIST ALONE. Even for your health.
- 10-Minute Rule. This is what I tell the participants in my Solid Strength challenge groups if they lack the energy and motivation to exercise that day. Give yourself 10 minutes. If you've schedule a 30 minute exercise session and you're JUST. NOT. FEELING. IT! make yourself do 10 minutes. 9 times out of 10 you'll continue and do the entire 30.
- Set a bed time and stick to it. I know a lot of you might be throwing things at your computer or phone or tablet, or whatever device you're using to read this right now. This is probably the hardest thing to do. Especially for mom. But it is CRITIALLY important to the success of ALL of your other healthier lifestyle choices. Just like you schedule your workouts, you need to set a bedtime. This is one of my May goals and I'll tell ya', it's hard! Our family's schedule is different every single day and it requires management of my time and PREPARATION. These are areas that I struggle with, but as my family's schedule get busier and the days get longer, I NEED to manage and prioritize my time or I am up way too late and then running on empty, crabby, get the coffee-shakes and am only concerned about when I get to go to sleep. Set a bedtime.
- Recognize triggers. If you find that you mindlessly eat while watching TV, stop watching TV. Seriously. Just stop. I did in 2014 and it has FREED UP SO MUCH OF MY TIME! If you find that you start to mindlessly scroll Facebook or Instagram or Pinterst when you were actually going to get a good playlist on your phone to workout to, STOP - even remove those apps from your phone! (EEK) You will survive, I promise. Make it so that you can only view those sites from your internet provider, not the app. This is HUGE, ladies. Also, TURN OFF YOUR NOTIFICATIONS. For everything except phone calls. If you usually eat while preparing food for your family, pour yourself a HUGE glass of water and any time you feel the urge to taste test, take a drink of water instead. Maybe you associate Bible study with donuts. Make the switch to fruit or even a hard boiled egg or nuts. Just because there's a bunch of sweet treats available at Bible study, doesn't mean you have to eat them. Whatever is the trigger for you, I want you to RECOGNIZE it, REPLACE it or REMOVE it.
- Work toward YOUR goals - no one else's. It is understood that you have set goals for yourself (if you need help establishing goals, you can read my blog post about how to do that here). These goals are specific to YOU and your needs, not based on what worked for a friend, or what someone at work is doing. Build a fortress around YOUR focus. This means have tunnel vision. Don't be distracted by what others are doing. This tends to lead to comparison, defeat, pride, resentment or anger. Each of us has been gifted with unique skills and abilities. Work to progress those, not to be something or someone you're not.
I will be praying for you, sister. I know that living a healthier lifestyle is hard. It's uncomfortable and it requires effort, time management and preparation. I also know that YOU ARE CAPABLE. Not by yourself, but because of the Spirit that lives in you. I hope you will start to implement just one or two of these strategies this week. And with each new week of grace, incorporate more. Let me know how it goes! You can connect with me at www.solidstrength.net. I'd love to be your accountability partner.