From the beginning, when I started this “fitness experiment,” my coaches and doctors made an observation about me. They said I was good at following orders. They would tell me to do something and usually, without question, I would do it. I followed the diet. I went in for checkups and showed up at the gym. On the handout I received my first day at the gym was a slogan that I kind of made into my mantra. “Show up. Don’t Quit.”
And, at first I wanted to think it was just a ploy to retain membership. But, I almost immediately heard another voice in my head with another, similar mantra. “No! Try not! Do or do not! There is no try.” And, since Luke and Yoda are on my short list of male role models, I listened. Maybe Yoda trained a werewolf or two in his lifetime. Not sure, but it seems plausible.
That said, I used to have a hard time listening to “reasons” people gave for not eating better or going to the gym. As a guy that doesn’t make excuses, empathy doesn’t come easy. But, if you remember my past posts, you remember that I had to come to this on my own terms and I quickly realized that’s everyone’s reality. So, after a while, I just started collecting them. The excuses. Interestingly, they’re usually offered without any prodding on my part. And, I think that’s the most interesting thing. More often than not, someone will make the observation that I must work out. I usually say yes and thank them for noticing. After all, looking in-shape is a lot of my motivation. But, almost without fail, my acknowledgement is quickly followed by a reason or excuse for why the observer is not taking better care of himself. As if I care. (Not to sound harsh…but seriously, who started the conversation here?) And, this makes me wonder if these folks are asking for someone to refute their excuses.
Over the years, I’ve learned the game and now I take it as a personal challenge to see how long I can keep the conversation going. How many excuses can I collect from one person? Because what usually happens is they’ll give a solid reason for why they can’t do what I do…and I tell them how I did it or how I was able to overcome that barrier. And, then they lob over an even better, more creative reason to go with the first. If they’re really good, they just keep stacking them on. I think I was able to get somebody to fourteen separate and unique excuses once. That was a pretty fun conversation. I think the best one I’ve heard to date is “my wife likes me fat.” I can’t argue with that. THAT is a great excuse. What husband in their right mind would give up the love of their spouse to be in better shape? Also, “I’m addicted to pancakes.” Solid reason. Conversation ender. Every time.
But these days, to me, excuses live in the same universe as short jokes. I’m under-tall, so I’ve heard my share of short jokes. My close friends know that I have no problem with short jokes, but they have to qualify. And that means they must be original. No tried and true, expected, easy short jokes are allowed. They have to be unexpected. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, do it right. Catch me off-guard. Just be original. And, the same applies for excuses. I give credit to the people who start these conversations with me and can end them really quickly with a really good excuse like love or pancakes. Recent heart or brain surgery also qualifies. But there are some I refuse to accept. Lack of time and lack of money only translate into “I just don’t want to.” And, I tell people that. Admittedly, I’ve created some pretty awkward moments this way. But, I’m just trying to keep life interesting.
All I’m asking is that if you don’t want to be in shape that you don’t try to tell me that I somehow have it better than you. That I somehow must have more time, more money, fewer children, a wife who likes a fit husband and a non-addictive personality when pancakes are involved. Granted, my wife does not want me to be fat. And, that helps. My kids seem to enjoy having a fit dad so much that they now cook me special Paleo treats. And, that’s pretty awesome, too. But, to say I have it any better or easier than most people kind of insults my effort. And getting here was hard. I had to overcome a lot of excuses. And, these days, when I run into people that have accomplished something that I think is really great, I think to myself that they must not have tried. They made up their mind to do. And, I compliment them without making any excuses.