Why I Don't Believe in the, "No Excuses" Movement
A bit of a headier conversation than many today, so stick with me a bit, if you'd be so kind (and to note, I do recognize, you've been along with me on this path for a bit, so the, "heady," part of this may just be...in my head. Feels a bit vulnerable, nonetheless!).
Last month, my grandmother passed away. There are quite a lot of wonderful things I could say about her (and if you'd like to have a grandparent lovefest, I'd love to listen about yours, too; feel free to reply).
One of the most important things my grandmother taught me, over the course of my life, is to look and to listen, especially to what isn't being said outright.
I am somewhat embarassed to admit it took her health declining for me to realize there were so many things I had wanted to ask her and ways I had wanted to get to know her that it hadn't yet occurred to me to ask, or, if it had occurred to me, the timing felt off or wrong or clumsy. I thought I had all kinds of time, you know.
But the Universe works in interesting ways, and one Tuesday, I called, and, after a brief conversation, she asked if I'd call again next Tuesday. Adamant about the day. I was a bit confused until one of her nurses got on the phone to explain to me that over the course of the previous few days, she had read my grandmother Tuesdays With Morrie, so that must be where it was coming from. And all of a sudden, my grandma and I were, "Tuesday people."
We had weekly chats about all kinds of things: we discussed my late grandfather, her love of cake for breakfast, how she came to know my father, her international travels, each of our childhoods, what each of us thought about reincarnation, aliens, and alligators.
She floored me almost every week with what was to her, I'm sure, a casual observation, but left me going, "I didn't know anyone else knew that about that/me."
For years, she watched and listened and learned about each of her family members, taking in their personalities as they were, not as the ideals she had in her head of how children and grandchildren and people, "should be." It cannot be understated, the love and relief I felt at (finally) being allowed to be nothing more or less than me.
It was a wonder to witness how something I've worked so hard at in my coaching (and in my own fitness!)—meeting people where they are, listening to how they got there, and discovering where it is they really want to go, in their heart of hearts—was such a seamless part of her thoughts and heart and life.
When I decided to become a coach, I realized, first and foremost, this sort of trust was vital to the success of everyone involved: if I can't humble myself enough to listen—deeply and fully—or to understand that at any given moment you may be having an entirely different experience and perception of our interaction and/or environment than I do (and believe you about your experience), then am I really being of service?
Am I really helping you along with your goals?
Does this change when your goals are different from my goals?
Or when they're different from the goals other people have, or have had in the past?
Seems quite basic, when you put it that way, but I haven't always hit the mark, and I find time and again, as I both get to know coaches further and have hired some myself, we could all use work, here. Not being understood seems to be a common experience of the human condition, especially in fitness.
For example, after traveling for her funeral, I forgot my laptop (aka, my office/the vast majority of my work) in a hotel drawer, slept on a loveseat, and wore the same clothes for three days in a row.
Do you think I got my workout in?
(I most certainly did not, and I am a person who *enjoys* moving my body, which is not true of everyone.)
If we, in the fitness industry, say we care about health, and we aren't paying attention to more than physical goals, or taking into account the myriad contributing factors to wellness, what are we really doing?
Shame and doubt and condescension can be conveyed with a simple question; our words are important, and, quite often, there are a lot of things not being said.
This is where we have to listen deeply, to ourselves and to others.
We are all faced with barriers (though they are not all the same, ranging from a temporary difficult circumstance to outright discrimination), and all of these things affect our bodies, our self-perception, our habits, our goals—in short, our health.
This is (part of) why I don't believe in #noexcuses (there are plenty), #teamnodaysoff (they're important), or that it only comes down to, "how bad you want it" (that has very little to do with anything).
(I also don't believe anyone owes me their health, and that is a separate conversation.)
If we only apply #fitfam filters to our clients or to our friends or to ourselves, are we actually fostering a sense of wellness?
Shouldn't we all feel as seen, heard, and understood as we do with our grandparents, especially when we're stating our needs clearly and narrowing the scope from our entire lives to our bodies? Isn't that part of wellness, too?
Integrating these thoughts and learning to listen better has been the driving force behind quite a significant shift in my business over the last couple of years:
I believe you are the expert on your body, and my role is to listen to you and your experience and provide you with tools to deepen your connection to yourself, so that you can, ultimately, think about your body (and all bodies) less in order to explore more of who you are, how you show up in the world, and how strong and capable you've always been (and, you know, get even stronger, in whatever ways you choose).
Hit reply and let me know your thoughts; I'd love for you to join the conversation.
PS -- a friend of mine also wrote a meaty article on the subject that's worth far more than the time it will take to read it. One of the most important fitness articles I've read in years. If you're interested in learning more, click here.