Oh Yes, You Can! (Or Why I Don’t Believe Your Excuses.)

I get a lot of e-mails that start “I want to ____, but I can’t.”

Um, yes. You can. Once you get over yourself and your excuses, you can do anything you want to do.

How I do know this? How do I see straight through you? Because I used to make these same excuses, too. So I know you’re full of shit. Sorry.

(At the time, I sort of knew I was full of shit, too, but I couldn’t see a way out.)

So here’s why your excuses don’t cut it.

I can’t lose weight.

Nope. Don’t believe it. Anyone can lose weight if they put their mind to it. (Unless you don’t really have weight to lose in the first place.)

It’s hard, and it’s not always fun, but good god is it rewarding. And it can be fun, if you make it.

Losing weight requires sacrifice. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then you’ll probably have to change it. Believe me, when my trainer told me to give up bread and dairy, I thought he was crazy, too. I couldn’t fathom a life without either. But I wanted to lose weight far more than I wanted to eat a sandwich, so I gave up the bread and dairy. I also cut way back on happy hours and fried food and spent more time in the gym, and the weight came off.

I can’t run.

Unless you have some sort of muscular, bone or joint issue? Yeah, you probably can run if you really want to.

I have asthma and IBS, and I’m training for my second marathon. Ali has Crohn’s and is a running machine and training for her first marathon.

Amputees have run marathons. People in wheelchairs compete in marathons.

But you don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner. You don’t even have to be able to run for a minute to start running and call yourself a runner. Start with intervals, and then work yourself up to running more than you walk.


I can’t get any faster.

You’re not trying hard enough. (Or you’re being too impatient.)

When I started running a little over two years ago, I finished my first 5K in 35:39. That’s just under 12-minute miles. I was ecstatic just to finish, but I quickly wanted to get faster. In the two years since then, I’ve run hundreds (thousands?) of miles, always pushing myself to get faster, whether it be running with faster people or doing speed workouts.

I ran four half-marathons this year before finally meeting my sub-2:00 goal in Freeport this summer. I logged quite a few miles in between, and I failed to meet my goal the first four times around. I did speedwork. I pushed myself through four grueling races, and on the fifth, dug in deep and reached for that goal that had previously eluded me.

The speedwork wasn’t fun. Falling short of my goal wasn’t fun. Meeting my goal? Fun.

I can’t find a job. I don’t like my job. It’s too late to change careers.

When I moved to NYC a little over three years ago, I took the first job I could find. It was working for a legal publishing company, and it was far from my dream job. I wasn’t quite sure what my dream job was, but I knew it involved social media, and I knew it involved something that involved communicating directly with consumers. (The legal publishing job was a business-to-business magazine.) I wasn’t getting that experience at work, so what did I do? I started this blog so I could show employers that I understood and knew how to use and create success with social media. A little over a year later, I was doing social media for ELLE and Woman’s Day magazines, because I worked hard and showed how passionate I was about social media.

After my layoff, I spent a little time feeling sorry for myself but realized that sorry wouldn’t get me my next job. If I wanted to stay current, I needed to do it myself. So I’m doing freelance social media while I search for the perfect gig.

It’s never too late to change careers. It’s never too late to do what makes you happy.

I don’t have time to….

You don’t have time? Or you can’t make time?

Last year I trained for the Chicago Marathon while working a full-time job, keeping a normal(ish) social life, blogging, taking care of my dog, co-chairing a Junior League committee and doing whatever else I was doing at the time.

Jen and Gia are both moms that are training for the NYC Marathon. Emily trained for an Ironman while working full-time, often riding crazy distances like 50 miles before work!

(But also note that you can do anything you want, but not everything you want.)

I can’t make friends.

Are you putting yourself out there? It’s 2011, there are a million ways to make friends using the internets, if you just look.

What else do you think you can’t do? Why don’t you try? You’ll never know if you don’t try.

What did you think you couldn’t do and found out that you could, once you tried?

59 comments on “Oh Yes, You Can! (Or Why I Don’t Believe Your Excuses.)

  1. Dorry

    Love your matter-of-fact, direct approach with this! I couldn’t agree more, and love the part of the lululemon manifesto that says, “Do it now, do it now, do it now!” – in other words, stop making excuses and start living the life you want! 🙂

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Dorry: I also love that lululemon has on its bags: “Successful people replace the words ‘wish’, ‘should’ and ‘try’, with ‘I will’.”

  2. Cat @ Breakfast to Bed

    I heart you lots. I have asthma and UC and I am training for my second half and have done a full 26.2. I have also lost 175lbs and am a mom of 2. Zero excuses. Stop. Take your kids with you to run. Make the effort to love yourself.

  3. Alyssa

    Absolutely this! I came to this realization myself (with a little help and inspiration from blogs like yours!) and so far I’ve lost 80lbs, run two races (with two more on deck in the next month) and things like 10 milers and half marathons will soon be on my agenda as well.

    No more excuses!

  4. Marie

    Love your blog; so inspirational. I don’t think I’ve commented before; awesome post! I never thought I would be a runner but after starting some interval run/walks on the treadmill awhile back, I recently decided to look up C25K and was happy to find that I could dive into the 4th week. I’m on the 6th week now and am loving it!

  5. Carol Blanchfield

    Ok, when the going gets tough
    the tough get going,
    Positive thinking, and after all,
    Tomorrow is another Day!!!!

    Love you,

  6. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!

    Excellent post, and I say that as the Queen of Excuse Making (self-imposed title, natch.)

    We all need a kick in the pants to remind us that excuses don’t cut it. I mean, seriously. You’re going to come up to me, someone who has lost 60 pounds despite consistently proving that I remain the laziest person on the planet, and tell me that YOU can’t lose weight? Uh, yeah, dude. You can. You just have to do it.

    J’adore you mucho (yup, three languages baby. That’s how much I love you.)

  7. Liz

    Love this!! I definitely never thought I could run — I was super un-athletic, I have IBS and strangely-aligned legs (my knees turn in, my feet turn out…it’s super awesome)…then I conquered my first mile, then my first 5K, and now, my first half-marathon. I never thought I’d break a 10:00/mile pace at any distance, and then managed to do it at a 10K and a 4-miler.

    And now instead of “I can’t,” I’m dreaming even bigger — a sub-2:10 half? A sub-2:00 half? A full marathon? A sprint triathlon? Bring it on 🙂

  8. Meg G

    What an inspiring post! I believe you can tell a lot about a person who says “I can’t” a lot and have found myself distancing myself from those who think that way. Positive energy and attitude make for a positive life!

  9. Shelley @ Mile High Healthy

    Love, love, love this post! My mom is overweight bordering on obese and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes two years ago. I keep trying to urge her to take her health into her own hands but I always get the “i can’t change my diet or fit in exercise” excuse or even worse the “i’m just not ready” excuse. You can do anything! It may take some work and at times be painful or difficult, but you can do it.

  10. [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon.

    Great post! I really appreciate the link to the blog article about not needing to be a marathoner (or even a runner) to be healthy and active. So many fitness blogs I read just happen to be runners and sometimes I feel like maybe I should be, too. That’s not the case and I really enjoyed that link!

  11. Gia

    I cant stop smiling reading this post …
    Every word is 100% truth. You are only as strong as you tell yourself that you are.
    Rock on with your inspirational self!

  12. janet scudieri

    One of your best posts. I am so quilty of not taking time to
    exercise. I always think that I do not have time to go to a gym, or take a morning walk. I do have time to talk to your mother for 1 hour at a time, so I know I am making excuses.
    Staring tomorrow I am going to make time for me.. I needed this post today. Thanks for the truth..

  13. Kelly

    I have been reading your blog for awhile and I just wanted to tell you that you are such an inspiration for someone like me who is looking to lose weight and run faster. You rock!

  14. Cynthia (It All Changes)

    Love, love, love this!!! So easy to make excuses for everything. I have a million allergies, had back surgery, several injuries and a schedule that doesn’t quit….yet my health is too important to quit. I get the moments I want to but I have to push through and be who I want instead of making excuses.

    Keep telling it straight.

  15. tracey

    All so true! I never thought I could lose weight and run a half marathon, but in the last 2 years I have managed to lose 65 lbs and keep it off, and I am currently training for my second half, with 2 more on my calendar. It is all about what is important. You hit the nail on the head with this post – great job! Now if I could just get that speedwork in without injurying myself…. 🙂

  16. Patricia

    Thanks for this post. I have been full excuses and still make up excuses sometimes, but I have come to realize, with the big 3-0 looming, that life is happening now and that I can’t “wait” for things to happen anymore. So no more excuses! If other people can do it, so can I.

  17. Stephane

    There’s this counseling technique called motivational interviewing, where the goals are to help the patient examine their barriers, help the patient view the barriers at challenges, and help the patient create their own solutions to the challenges.

    I think that’s one of the keys in the process– it’s embedded within yourself because, honestly, you’re the only one who can do anything, whether it’s exercise, eating well, safe sex, wearing a seatbelt, or finding jobs, friends, or hobbies. The trainer might suggest it, but you choose to eat a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast or leftover quinoa and vegetables (yeah… need to do some grocery shopping!).

    Then, there is the SMART goal setting stage, but that’s another comment.

    P.S. You don’t have to run. But you have to find what you’ll do… aerobics? yoga? hiking? water aerobics? Something trendy that you change ever 3 months because you get bored? Just do it!

  18. Tara

    Thank you for these words. I have had a lot of excuses lately and that is not acceptable. I think it is so easy to have excuses and believe them. You definitely touched on that. I deserve better. I would not accept these excuses from a significant other so why do I take them for me???

  19. Molly@hungryhungryrunner.com

    I needed this post!!! I recently just started reading your blog and this post totally hit home with me. I was having one of those ridiculous pity-party, whiney, excuse-ridden days and bam! I read this and was able to call myself out on my own B.S. THANK YOU!!!

  20. Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run

    Best Post Ever! I want to print this and hand it out when people tell me that they hate me and wish they could do what I do. Umm, hello?! You can! You really nailed it Theodora! Thank you for putting this out there. Maybe someone will listen, get off their butt and start moving!

  21. Jamie

    You are totally right and maybe I needed to hear this today. I am not being tough enough on myself and if I really want to lose this last 15 pounds, I have to buckle down! It is so easy to make excuses and so hard to be totally “in it” but as you said, the results are worth it!

  22. audrey

    You’re right! And it’s nice to hear the truth. It’s funny, I seem to be able to ‘just do it’ and not make excuses for lots of things in my life like studying whilst working, making brave decisions in my personal life but I can’t seem to get out of that rut with my health and losing weight. I need to apply what I do in other parts of my life and get on with it.

    I think sometimes (if like me you need to lose a lot of weight) it can be very scary, but that again is no excuse not to do it, it should mean I’m even more motivated! Thanks for your post 🙂

  23. Gina @ running to the kitchen

    I just found this post from Katy’s 5 for Friday and LOVE IT! Love your attitude. I sometimes feel like I’m so un-sympathetic towards people who make excuses but the reality is that excuses are just that, excuses! You CAN do anything you put your mind to. I love that you laid it all out there so bluntly, yet somehow managed a positive spin at the same time 🙂

  24. Jessie

    This is the greatest post ever – I’m pretty sure I’ve made every single excuse that you have up there ESPECIALLY the “I can’t lose weight” and “I can’t run”. But now, I’m TRYING to do both – and that’s a lot better than “can’t” 🙂

  25. Anna Crouch

    Today the thought “I can’t make friends!” came into my mind, as I contemplated my first day back at college yesterday. Then when I read your line, “have you put yourself out there?” I thought “well….no….I haven’t. Danget.” I am sooo not an outgoing, social butterfly type person. But yes, if I want to make friends I will need to put the effort into putting myself out there and meeting them! Thanks for making me realize this. I either get out of my comfort zone and do it, or feel bad for myself and sulk in self pity all year because I never made friends.

  26. Nicole

    I cannot run. I spent YEARS trying- I would go to physiotherapists, sports therapists, you name it, trying to get my gait analyzed and figure out why I kept getting injured. No matter what I did, no matter how slow I went, I always hurt myself and ended up having to do NO weight bearing exercise for months. But I kept trying because people told me I was making excuses, and anyone can run. Doctor’s can find no bone or joint issues- it’s just something about the way I am built.

    And sometimes it is not as easy as just making time. My best friend got laid off. She had children. She had to work shift work and overtime, but couldn’t afford chilcare. So, for her, it was a choice between having a job, staying fit and exercising, or making friends. She could do about 1.5 of those things.
    This does not feel inspirational or uplifting. This feels like someone who worked very hard (not denying that at all), but is putting others downs to make her and others feel better about themselves and their hard work. Not everyone is as lucky as you. If someone is having trouble making friends, how does telling them they are simply not trying hard enough help THEM? Do you know that? Obviously, you were able to make friends, you were able to run, you were able to make time. So you don’t know if it is really impossible for those people- and rather than helping them, you are pushing them down to exalt yourself and your hard work.

    1. Theodora Post author

      Hi Nicole,

      I’m really sorry to hear you can’t run 🙁 And I’m sorry my post offended you. I wasn’t meaning to put people down, just to show how much we can get done that we didn’t think was possible when we put our minds to it or really work at it. And no, it’s not always as easy as making time, you’re right. Sometimes you just don’t have enough time to do everything. I don’t know if you saw the other post I linked to–http://losingweightinthecity.com/2011/03/i-can-do-anything-i-want-but-not-everything-i-want/–but I do believe that if you want something enough and work for it and are patient, it will happen.


  27. Jeff

    Hello there, just was alert to your weblog via Google, and located that it’s really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I?ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Lots of other folks might be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  28. Jessica

    I thought this post was great. Talk about the kick in the ass that I need. While I am training for a 10 km right now, you definitely put a few things into perspective. So thanks for this. Also, great blog! I just came across it randomly and am now bookmarking it!


  29. Stacia

    This is so motivational. We tend to keep making excuses rather than fill our time with what we want to make and do. Thanks Theodora!

  30. elena

    I am new to your blog, but what I like most about it is how honest and free of bull shit it is. My mantra has always been “excuses are like ass holes. everyone has one and they usually stink.” I sent this link to a few of my friends who needed to read this. Thanks for writing it!


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