On Excuses

autumn rain1I loved Sam’s post the other day about blankie hugging.   The post itself was good and then in the comments so many people came out and confessed that they too listen for that rain that says, “you can roll over and go back to sleep now.”

That got me thinking about excuses more generally. Here are some random musings about excuses.

Most of my early morning activities are indoor: yoga (6:30 a.m.), weight training (6:30 a.m.), swimming (6 a.m.!). So the sound of rain doesn’t excuse me from much.

Rain got in the way of my first ride on the road bike, postponing it for a week. But that just disappointed me.

And just the prospect of rain shaped my day today.  I thought I might go running *after* work. But with rain in the forecast, I thought the better of it (since I’m pretty sure I don’t like running in the rain unless it’s warm out), and went out this morning. It also meant that I left my bike at home today.

Do you change your plans on the prospect of inclement weather?  I’m glad I did because when I emerged from class this afternoon (class meets in a soul-destroying room without windows), it was cold and raining and I felt enormously grateful that I didn’t have to ride my bike home AND that I had gone running this morning.

So rain and a good chance of rain (has to be almost certain) serve as legitimate excuses for me.

I’ll also take cancellations — if the people I plan to meet up with can’t make it, I probably won’t go either. So if I check my phone in the morning and there’s a text from Tara saying she was up all night with a sick kid and can’t meet for our Beautiful Badass workout at 6:30, I will hug the blankie.

If I’m sick, I don’t work out. It’s as simple as that. I’d rather rest and get better than force my miserable self through workouts that probably are not what I need. I don’t look forward to these times (like I used to when I was a kid, and the slightest tummy ache was almost as good as a snow day because I got to stay home from school and my brought me dry toast and black tea with sugar). I’d rather do the workout and not be sick.

Okay, now what about busy?  Does being busy ever trump workouts?  It does, but that’s never my first choice.  For my own mental health, the busier I am the more I need my workouts. That’s another reason I didn’t wait and see about the rain this afternoon and just went for that run before 7 this morning. Because I’m drowning under a pile of work right now and skipping workouts just makes me grumpy.

One thing more about excuses — they’re generally invoked to get out of something I don’t much want to do in the first place so I can do something I’d rather do (e.g. stay home from school so I can be pampered by my wonderful mother).  Since these days, most of what I do I do by choice because I love it (I’ve posted about this), I’m not actively seeking ways to get out of anything.

I’m truly disappointed, for example, that next week I’m going to miss swimming on Friday morning because I’m going to be out of town at a conference.  I love that group swimming. I may need to skip yoga on Tuesday so I can get in at least one group training session in the pool.  Far from needing an excuse to stay in bed, I’m actually double-committed on Tuesdays, with swimming AND yoga at the same time!

Finally, it’s almost impossible this week to talk about excuses and not mention Maria Kang, the fat-shaming mother of three who is in the news this week. I’m not going to weigh in too much on this whole fiasco, only to say that any kind of “I did X [insert some outstanding achievement that few people accomplish] in Y [insert adverse circumstances] circumstances so what’s *your* excuse?” talk is, in pretty much any arena, shaming in some way or other.  It also sets over-achieving standards as normal.

It’s like Alice Munro saying, “Hey, I’m a grandmother and I won the Nobel Prize for Literature; what’s *your* excuse?”

This kind of talk is not even seeking legitimate excuses. It’s assuming that none is available. But if we want to admit — as I hope we do — that Maria Kang does have a pretty rockin’ bod and it’s amazing (not ordinary) that someone who has had three kids is even capable of getting her body into that kind of shape, we should for sure also confess that it’s an extraordinary, not an ordinary achievement.

So for all those who do not look like her, you don’t need an excuse.  Most people will never look like her for all sorts of non-excuse-needing reasons. Heck, I haven’t ever given birth and I will never look like that. It’s just fitspo all over again. Not the least bit motivating because, for most of us, it’s unattainable. See my thoughts on fitspo here.

And that’s okay. Because it’s not necessary to look like that to (a) be a good person, (b) enjoy what you do, (c) be vibrant and healthy, and (d) be a good mom. There was a great response to the “what’s your excuse?” thing today by Taryn Brumfitt, former fitness competitor and mother. She notes that “having the ‘perfect’ body isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.”

We’ve also talked about what it takes to be a fitness model, and it’s not always (or even often) fun.

So for some things, we don’t need an excuse. And for other things, there’s nothing wrong with having an excuse.

[image credit: Rosemary Ladd, artist, Autumn Rain]

5 thoughts on “On Excuses

  1. I love your post, but I can’t resist suggesting that Alice Munro would respond to Maria King with the title of one of her works. “Who do you think you are?” (known as “the Beggar Maid” in the US”) is the first book that occured to me, but when I look through the book titles, there are several other titles that could fit. And I haven’t even checked the short story titles……

  2. After living and cycling nearly year round in Vancouver for 8 yrs., cycling when we get rain in Calgary which is not as often, it’s nearly laughable. The bike paths become deserted when it’s just a light sprinkle.

    Excuses…that work best for me:
    a) when it is too snowy/icy on pavement for me to bike to work, shop
    b) my legs just need a day’s rest after several wks. of cycling daily …this is just ordinary city cycling.

    When one walks a lot and bikes a lot as part of lifestyle and having no car, there aren’t a lot of excuses unless it’s dangerously -30 degrees C in winter which Calgary does occasionally get a few days like that each winter.

  3. Reblogged this on Fit Is a Feminist Issue and commented:

    Here’s a Throwback Thursday about excuses. I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who have had that “hoping for rain” thing going on so they could skip a run or other outdoor activity. If I’m hoping for rain (as I was last night), then maybe I need to take a break (as I did last night). How about you? Do you feel like you “need an excuse” or do you give yourself permission to take a break when you need it?

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