Excuses vs Valid Reasons

Every time I see #NoExcuses, or its equally nasty buddy #WhatsYourExcuse anywhere, it makes my blood boil. It makes me want to grab the person who posted it, shake them by their shoulders and shout  "what about valid reasons you smug fool" in their face. The only other thing that has this effect on me are cyclists on the pavement and people swearing around kids. 

This rant of a blog post has been brewing for quite some time but I thought this time of year, with everyone in full (possibly slightly lagging now actually) new years resolutions swing, was fitting. It's probably getting thrown around quite lot.

It was the most irking to me when I was early post partum with child number 2 and felt like I "should" be doing all sorts of things. More exercise, better personal hygiene, eat more green stuff - you know what those early weeks / months are like. I wanted so badly to listen to what I knew I needed (rest, kindness and comfy clothes) but at the same time felt deeply inferior and like I was letting everyone, most of all myself down. 

You see, what may be excuses to you, are reasons to other people. And that's ok. Because it's none of your beeswax. Eyes on your own life. And plate.  

This hashtag is very thinly veiled as motivation, or its twisted cousin "fitspiration", but in the majority of cases it actually has the opposite effect and can leave people feeling upset, ashamed and not good enough. It's like a reverse "keeping up with the Joneses" . You are making yourself the Joneses and are smugly rubbing it in everyone else's face. Nothing wrong with showing off a little and being proud of yourself - pat yourself on the back for all that you've achieved under whatever circumstances. Just don't assume because you can do it everyone else can or should, too.

Let's look at fitspiration a little more closely: (the actual word makes me uncomfortable and want to heave, but that's a story for another day!) people use #NoExcuses in connection with exercise or weight loss goals they have reached, or when it comes to preparing meals that they deem to be perfect. 

Some "exuses" that apparently don't count in this context are: 

Being tired (exercise will give you energy!)
Not having enough time (MAKE time. Prioritise! Value yourself!)
Having kids (be a good example to them)
Being injured (man up)
Being depressed (cheer up)
Not being able to afford it (walking / running costs nothing)

But here's the thing. No matter what you are doing, I bet your bottom dollar that you have a set of privileges in place that allow you to do what you're doing. You might not realize it, but you do. 

So let's have a closer look at some of the above examples. 

Tired: maybe when you're tired you can count on 8 (or even 6) hours sleep that night, so you still go to the gym. Someone else might be up in the night with their kids, looking after elderly relatives or work 12 hour days, so when they're tired they go to bed at 8pm because they have to. Their tiredness is a very valid reason not to exercise that day, or not to go bananas at the gym. 

Having kids: maybe your gym has a creche, maybe your parents take your kids sometimes, maybe your partner gets home early enough for you to zip to the gym. A lot of other people don't have any of these things in place. 

Not being able to afford it: you enjoy running and it doesn't cost a thing. Someone else might not like running even though it's free. They'd rather do a zumba class but can't afford it. Or their neighbourhood isn't safe to walk in. Doesn't matter what their reason is - let them have one! 

Being injured: resting is actually the smart thing to do, not pushing through. And it's not quitting or giving up either. Just stop it.  Taking time to rest adequately will prevent re-injury and keep you healthier in the long run. The pushing through mentality often comes from people in their 20s. I'm no longer in that decade of my life and I know how much rest and recovery I need, thank you kindly. 

Depression: This shouldn't need to be said, but if someone is struggling with depression THEY KNOW WHAT THEY NEED, NOT YOU. Exercise might make you feel better, but maybe not them. Or maybe not today. What they definitely don't need is someone rubbing it in their face that they *should* be doing it. 

See, all valid reasons. 

A quick word about meal preppers, too, who like to use this hashtag also. It's great that they can spend a Sunday afternoon batch cooking and prepping their lunches for the week or that they host a prepping party with their friends to make tons of food for the freezer. It sounds lovely and wholesome. But not everyone wants to spend their time that way and that's ok! I for example, want to spend Sundays interacting with my family (or getting away from them for a couple of hours if I so choose....). Just  because it's your solution, doesn't make it everyone elses. 

I'd love for people to use hashtags much more mindfully, looking at the actual, honest intentions behind them. Hashtags, like words, can have great power, especially in combination with shiny pictures of filtered perfection on social media. 

Rant over and I feel much better. Maybe next time I see the hashtag used, I'll be able to scroll calmly past. Ha.