One Small Thing

Trying to lose weight and exercise more? Say this 1 word to move past excuses

The next time excuses drag you down and keep you from reaching your goals, use one word to get yourself back on track.

The effects can be magic, said Stanley Hibbs, a psychologist and life coach in Dunwoody, Georgia, who has been using the word for years with clients seeking to lose weight, exercise more, overcome fears and be more successful.

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Ready to make it a big part of your vocabulary? The word is “nevertheless.”

“I call it inoculating yourself against excuse-itis,” Hibbs told TODAY. “‘Nevertheless’ allows us to talk back to, refute and dispute our excuses, and then propels us towards positive action.”

Here’s Hibbs’ magic word at work, turning common justifications into healthier options:

• “It’s very cold outside and I don’t feel like walking today. Nevertheless, it’s very important so I’m going to do it anyway.”

• “I’m upset and ice cream is my comfort food. Nevertheless, I will find a better way to deal with my feelings.”

• “I’m tired and I’ve earned the right to goof off. Nevertheless, I can get a few more things done and then relax.”

It’s all about how you frame your internal dialogue. “Nevertheless” is particularly powerful because it tells you that no matter how negatively you might be feeling, you’re always free to choose the response that’s in your best interests, Hibbs said.

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Why it works

Humans are great at making excuses and this tool helps you work around them, Hibbs said. When his clients want to make a change, he asks them to list a bunch of justifications why they may slip up. There’s no judgment, just an acknowledgement that it can happen.

If the client wants to exercise more, for example, the excuse list may include things like “I’m too tired,” “I don’t have a lot of time,” “I just don’t feel like doing it.”

“We like to get excuses out in the open. Then for each excuse, we come up with a rebuttal,” Hibbs said.

In this case, the rebuttal might be: “Yes, I’m tired; nevertheless, I’ll get energy when I get up and get started” or “Yes, I don’t have a lot of time; nevertheless, I’ll use the little time that I have.”

Use the mantra to re-frame any situation, from social anxiety to money management issues. Then, be accountable. Tell your spouse or friend when you’ve succeeded making a healthier choice. You really wanted to reach for a donut. Nevertheless, you chose an apple instead.

“I just started using ‘nevertheless’ and it was magic," Hibbs said. "It didn’t guarantee that people would follow through, but it greatly increased the chances that they would."

Follow A. Pawlowski on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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