Gray: Excuse or opportunity?

You can use anything in life as an excuse, or you can use it as an opportunity. You choose. If you wake up with too many aches and pains, use that as your reason to get healthy. If you are running ragged and tired, use that as your reason to get healthy. If you are stressed or unhappy, use that as your reason to get healthy. If you are worried about your loved ones, use that as your reason to get healthy. If you are sick of being sick, use that as your reason to get healthy. And the list goes on.

Everything feels better when you feel better about yourself. It’s true. We cannot control someone else’s bad attitude or even some of our own daily struggles. But we can control our reaction to the world around us. People who feel stronger and healthier have a greater ability to see past the fog and find the light. They can literally find the inner strength to smile, survive and thrive. If you want that edge in life, it is time to move past the excuses and get healthier. Don’t wait until the weather warms up, or you finish that home project, or you’re done with school, or retired. Start now.

Liz Klemens of Alpena turned her list of excuses into an opportunity to start living her retirement to the fullest. Not long ago, she felt like a hypocrite.

She spent her career as a physical education teacher and a coach. She kept students active and in shape. Her passion for fitness ran even deeper. In graduate school, she wrote her master’s thesis on the positive impact of a healthy diet and consistent exercise on the body.

Yet at this stage of her life, she was gaining weight and buying bigger clothes.

Liz had excuses that would have been easy to justify. She blamed her total knee replacement surgery for limiting her exercise. Then she blamed menopause for the unwanted weight gain. The reality was staring her in the face. She had given up and given in. She needed to take control of her food and her fitness.

She made two key decisions. First, Liz joined a health club. She jumped into a strength training camp for women, and scheduled a variety of group fitness classes in her week, including a low-impact Simply Fit class and Yoga. She stopped allowing her knee hold her back. She simply modified some of the exercises to fit her abilities. She still got a great workout and felt safe and strong.

Secondly, Liz joined Weight Watchers for extra support and accountability with her nutrition. She made the bold step of eliminating soda and alcohol. She now plans ahead for what she is going to eat and is more aware of her food portions. She carries a healthy snack with her at all times so she never has to give into temptation. Her initiative has paid off. In the past four months, Liz has lost 17 inches and 30 pounds. Her doctor said that if she keeps up the progress, she could go off of her cholesterol medication. She knows that getting older does not have to mean caving into medications and weight gain. She is in charge of her health is proud to be walking the walk again.

Let Liz’s story inspire you to leave the excuses behind. What would life feel like if you were stronger and healthier? Can you picture it? Can you feel it? Your health is never going to be perfect. Your body is never going to be perfect. But you can decide to make progress. That is the opportunity in front of you. I want to write your story next.

Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.