No Excuses, Only Promises

Do y’all remember that “No Excuses Mom” photo of the woman in a bikini with three kids? Here it is if you’ve never seen it:

Pretty intimidating, right?

Last week, we talked about shame being a common barrier to fitness. You don’t know how to use the equipment, so you don’t take the class. You have no idea what acai is, so you don’t even bother. Someone made a comment about how your shirt fits, so you don’t workout in public. These are real issues. Please go back and read that article before continuing below, because I want you to feel free from shame before moving on. 

I started writing this post with a list of other practical obstacles to fitness, then stopped. If we really have our heart set on working out, we would make it happen. We have enough messages to move more, but not enough real motivation to do it. So what’s going on in the space between considering and committing?

Most of the time when it comes to basic exercise, excuses can get in the way. I get it. We work hard enough in the office, as moms, as human beings. Why add fitness to the list? We just want to go to sleep, for crying out loud…after that Netflix series we’ve been dying to binge watch. 

A way that we express our dislike towards something without admitting the real reason is to make an excuse. 

I’ve made plenty of excuses for not wanting to workout: 

  • I’m too sore 
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I’m too tired 

When in reality, exercise could make things better:

  • Low impact cardio reduces soreness
  • The CDC recommendations for exercise reports that exercise broken up into 10 minute segments can be just as efficient
  • Exercise gets the blood flowing to the body and oxygen to the brain, improving energy levels

I really do like to exercise. But sometimes, I’ll waste my time and do something easy instead of what I really want. If I want to do 5 pull-ups but that sounds too hard and I don’t feel like failing anything at the moment, I’ll talk myself out of it by reasoning that I deserve a lighter workout, one that I know I will conquer. 

An excuse is one way to mask the truth. 

The Truth Hurts

God loves honesty. The existence of the Psalms encourages us to be completely vulnerable with Him. Take David’s Psalms for example; he starts out basically asking the Lord to either let him die or kill all his enemies (thankfully the Bible editors didn’t censor those parts—they make me feel more normal). He may start talking to God with an angry heart, but usually concludes the Psalm by rejoicing in God’s faithfulness. Luckily for everyone around him, David first took his problems to the Lord and his attitude changes for the better.

I think Jesus is honest with us too—and the truth hurts! Let’s read the following passage as regards to fitness in brackets:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” [I’ll hike mountains for you, Lord!] And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” [Just warning you, this won’t be any comfortable things like couches or beds involved]  To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” [First, let me go and do this thing I’m supposed to do.] And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-60

That last one is hard to understand. Here’s one interpretation: "As regards the people of the world, nothing is more important than responding to the gospel. This requires that the gospel be preached (Romans 10:14), so once we make the decision to follow Jesus and preach His good news, we must deny dead, worldly pursuits and comforts, and do the Lord’s work.”

Following Jesus is costly. It costs us our own schedule, our own preferences, our own plans, even our comfort and convenience. But He will never leave us on our own because He has made us His own.  

Promises of Life

As regards to the Lord’s work, let us not be a people of excuses. "All the promises of God find their 'yes' in him. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Let us not confuse our expectations with God’s promises. He doesn’t promise to bless us with a personal trainer, the perfect gym, or even cute clothes. But He does promise life. And He gets to define that—we get to learn the meaning of eternal life through daily obedience.

What I am not saying is to let photos like Maria Kang's “No Excuses” message get to you when you planned to work out but your kid got sick, a friend got in an accident, or someone you passed by on the street needed help. Godly training, exercising self-control to follow Jesus when it hurts or puts a dent in your day, is more rewarding than physical training. 

In fact, since that promotional picture, Kang has gained weight and endured hardships. Her message has changed. Recently, she posted this caption underneath an unfiltered Instagram of her stunning self, with an even more beautiful message: “I know we all strive to be ‘ready' for events, vacations or just feel good enough to wear a swimsuit or take a photo! Sometimes we will mentally never be where we think we should be, so just show up! Just do it! Just be proud of where you are in your life’s journey!” No more excuses to not show up, to not pursue life at its fullest.

Jesus promises us life in Him with no conditions, so we have no excuse.

There are legitimate reasons for not making healthy choices, and then there are excuses. Let us not neglect the power of God in our lives by choosing to stay on the sidelines. He gives us the grace to try and fail because no matter what we do, He has won. Now, He waits for you. What’s your excuse? 

Reflect and Respond

  1. What is your excuse to not live healthier?
  2. What are the fears behind that excuse?
  3. What will bring you more life—avoiding the decision or going for it? If you have a hard time deciding, Psalm it out (that’s slang for “journal it out with the Lord”). I pray you will come out on the other side rejoicing in God’s goodness. When you’re face with decisions of how to spend your time, look at them through this filter: what will bring life? Hint: see John 10:10. No excuses. Only promises.