Can’t means won’t

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As we approach the end of the year 2011, its a time of reflection for many and a time to look forward about how to improve health, fitness, happiness, and stress levels.

Can’t means won’t

This is a quote from a good friend’s parents. For years I thought it was stupid but now I realize how truly wise it is. Its also very important to fitness because people often use the word “Can’t” to rationalize their unhealthy lifestyles. People use the word “Can’t” as a discussion stopper, meaning, I don’t want to think about this issue so stop bugging me. Here are some examples:

I can’t go to the gym, I don’t have time.
I can’t get in shape, I can’t afford a gym membership.
I can’t get daily cardio, I don’t have time.
I can’t lose weight, it’s my genetics.
I can’t get enough sleep, I am too busy.
I can’t workout, I have three kids.
I can’t eat healthy, I don’t have time to cook.
I can’t gain muscle, I’m a hard gainer.
I can’t lose weight, my metabolism is slow.
I can’t workout, I am a single mom.
I can’t stop smoking, I’m addicted.
I can’t
I can’t
I can’t

It’s not that you can’t, its that you are not willing to. People so poison themselves with negativity and “can’t can’t can’t” that they start to believe it themselves.  Get the idea?  Simply saying that you “can’t” is the easy way out, the only response people can give is “well, OK.”.    In every situation above, you and I could come up with a solution for how to solve that problem, but it would take a lot of effort which is what the person is trying to avoid. Its the subconscious trying to protect you and keep you happy – “since you can’t do anything about it, it’s not your fault”.   Lets just take one example because its the most commonly used excuse in the book:

I can’t do cardio, I don’t have time.

Really?  To the person using this as an excuse, let me ask this.  How many errands do you run in your car every week that are within 2 miles of your home?  How much time did you waste sitting in traffic while running those errands?  Why didn’t you walk or ride your bike on those errands?  Did you drive to the gym?  How much time in the week did you waste driving to the gym?  How much time did you spend watching TV in the last week and why couldn’t you do that while on a stationary bike?  How much time did you spend on facebook in the last week and why couldn’t you do that while on a stationary bike?  Did you drive to work?  How much time did you waste driving to work?  Why can’t you take the bus to work, it takes longer but you would get in 30min walking to/from the bus stops and make your commute time effective by doing emails on the bus.

I think you get the idea.  In the future, every time the word “can’t” rolls off your lips, stop.  Think about it.  Is there really some law of physics, mathematics, or biology that is preventing it? Is there some legal or moral reason preventing it?  If not, then it IS possible but you many not like the difficult solution.  Be honest with yourself, you owe yourself that much.  Rather than saying “I can’t do cardio, I don’t have time.” Say the truth, get it out in the open:

I don’t want to do cardio, I find it boring.

This honesty with yourself and others will open many doors.  It’s not possible to solve a problem if you don’t know what it is.  By stating the real reason, your subconscious can work on a solution and your friends can offer suggestions too when they find out the real reason for your cardio avoidance.

Need vs Want

In a very similar fashion is critical that you be honest with yourself about “need” or “have to” versus “want”.  Again people try to use the terms “have to” or “need” as discussion stoppers as well as to convince themselves that they have no choice.

Need: You will die or go to jail if you do not buy/have this item.  Examples: food, shelter.

Want: Everything else! You dont need a nice apartment for shelter, thats what you want.  All you need is a tent or your mom’s sofa.  You need transportation to get to work to make money but you only need a bicycle, a car is what you want.

If you are honest with yourself then you realize that you DO have options and that your hand is not being forced.  You ALWAYS have choices.  Do not use the word “need” to pretend you dont have a choice when you really do.  The choices may be unpleasant but you do have them.