Change is hard, and human nature tells us that we tend not to change unless we absolutely have to. Why is change so hard? Once we adopt a certain lifestyle that seems to be working for us, there is no reason or motivation to change. For example, eating patterns are set early in life and remain pretty constant. This is because we select the foods we eat based on taste rather than nutritional value, and early in life we know what tastes good.
This means by age 40, we have a 40-year eating habit to contend with, and the older we get, the longer and stronger the habit. Changing from that is an incredible challenge, especially since we satisfy and reward ourselves daily by consuming our favorite foods, over and over. Plus, we choose to believe there is no reason to change because we still have our health.
Or do we?
Unfortunately, disaster may be lurking right around the corner, but as yet there are no signs or symptoms. Obviously, most Americans should change for our own good, but we refuse because it’s inconvenient or difficult. Enter the excuse. Here are some we use to ease our minds and get us off the hook and why they are detrimental to our health.
The five top excuses people use to justify a lousy diet
“Eating healthy is too expensive.”
That’s simply not true. If you take the time to learn what to do and how to cook healthy foods, especially vegetarian choices, they are likely to be much cheaper than meat products and most processed foods.
“I’m too busy to prepare healthy food.”
Maybe this is true much of the time, but does it really take longer to grab an apple than it does to open a bag of chips?
“I’ve had a bad day and I deserve a treat.”
So, just because you had a bad day, does it make sense to compound the problem by punishing your body with sludge that destroys your health?
“It doesn’t matter what I eat. I gain weight because I have a slow metabolism.”
Really? How do you know? The odds of your metabolism being slower than average due to a thyroid condition, or some other metabolic disorder, are small and can be detected easily with medical testing.
“Healthy foods don’t taste good.”
I hear this one all the time. Stop and think about it. Where else in life are you able to make such childish decisions like eating for taste only and getting away with it? When you’d rather sleep in than go to work, do you stay in bed? Do you avoid paying taxes? Do you refuse to clean the house or cut the grass? Of course not. You respond as a responsible adult, and as an adult, you can retrain your taste buds. For example, when I gave up sweet tea years ago, it wasn’t long before I hated the “too sweet” taste of it.
The five top excuses people use to justify being lazy
The excuses we embrace for avoiding exercise are just as bogus as the ones above for avoiding healthy eating.
“I’m too busy” (again).
Really? How many hours a day do you spend mindlessly watching TV? Survey results vary, but at a minimum, it’s hours a day, and much more for youngsters and the elderly.
“I’m too tired after working all day.”
Probably so, but ironically, the best way to pep yourself up is to get some exercise. Plopping down on the couch makes you more tired.
“Exercise is boring.”
Sure, it can be, but there are many helpful options if you just look for them. For example, place your home treadmill or stationary cycle in front of a TV and reward yourself by watching your favorite programs, or put on headphones and blast your favorite music.
“I have to watch the kids.”
This is a great excuse unless you take them with you. Kids in a stroller are easy — you push and walk. You can put an older child in a bike seat and ride. For toddlers old enough to walk, let them go as far as they can, then carrying them will give you lots of good exercise.
“Exercise is uncomfortable.”
If you are overweight and unfit, moving your body will, at first, be uncomfortable. But as you go along, getting more fit and losing weight, exercise will feel better and better.
How to incorporate exercise into your busy workday
Of all the excuses, perhaps the most legitimate and the one I most sympathize with, unless you waste hours a day watching TV, is the “I’m too busy” excuse when it comes to exercise. It can be challenging to find the time required to get to the gym for a workout or siphon off 30-45 minutes for at-home exercise. But there is an effective alternative. Exercise in bits and pieces. When I’m too busy to exercise the way I normally do, this is my option. If I’m at school, I set an alarm to go off then get up and walk down the hall, looking for a flight of stairs.
Climbing stairs offers many benefits, including burning lots of calories. To determine the caloric cost per flight, multiply the number of steps times 0.3. For example, every time you go up and down a flight of 15 stairs (typical in the average home) you burn approximately 3.0 calories (kcals) on the way up, and half as many 1.5 on the way down.
I realize it doesn’t sound like much, but throughout the day, it wouldn’t be hard to squeeze in twenty flights, and the total time invested is minimal as you burn about the same number of calories as walking a brisk mile (80 -90 calories). And climbing stairs does more than just burn calories. It also builds leg strength and cardiovascular fitness, especially if you speed up and climb several flights in a row.
Exercise is critical to health, and especially healthy aging, so every little bit helps. Please stop the excuses and get moving.
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Reach Bryant Stamford, a professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at Hanover College, at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on the Louisville Courier Journal: Too tired to excerise? The top excuses people give for being lazy