Strong Mommas Podcast How To Stop Making Excuses

May 4, 2021 by Megan Dahlman

How to Stop the Excuses

Megan Dahlman Strong Mommas Podcast

Creating non-negotiable self care habits

I want to set this up with another story about my 10 year old, Calvin. Yes, he comes up a lot because he’s a super big personality. He’s intense on all fronts. If you’re into Enneagram personality typing, I’m pretty sure he’s number 8 with a wing 7, or a number 7 with a wing 8. And if know anything about that, it is a very fun-and-excitement loving challenger personality type. I always say that he can start an argument in an empty room. When he wakes up in the morning, it’s full speed ahead. There’s no wake-up period, verses Peter, my calmer guy that needs some cuddle time. 


Calvin bursts through his bedroom door every morning, looking for a challenge and he’ll create it with everyone in the house until we’re all going mad! 


Well, one thing he’s extremely good at is negotiating. When he asks me for something, he ponders the best way to ask and lines up his list of persuasive arguments. For example, the other night he wanted ice cream. Instead of asking straight out for the ice cream, he said things like, “mom, I made sure to not have any treats today just in case we would have a chance to have ice cream tonight.” If my answer was no or maybe, he’ll dance around it more, asking me what my favorite kind of ice cream is, or remarking how he loves it when certain shows that we watch together makes him think of a treat we had that one time. If the answer is becoming a firmer no, he starts to really dig in and negotiate: “How about I do the dishes for you? What if I scooped it so you didn’t have to? How about tomorrow then?” 


Usually, I get so fed up and lose all grace and patience with him, saying “Calvin this is not up for debate! I am done negotiating with you! The answer is no.”  


A lot of us are like this, too. Maybe not quite so obviously pushy, but we all use negotiation tactics with our workouts, good nutrition, and self care in general.

What is “negotiation” anyway?

Negotiation means to make a deal or a bargain. It’s arriving at an agreement after some sort of discussion. 

  • There’s a discussion that usually takes place, a series of arguments, and then a deal is struck
  • Most often this discussion is purely internal. The negotiations are all happening inside your head. 
    • Here’s how this plays out with your healthy habits:
      • “I have a workout on my schedule today, but I didn’t sleep well last night so I just don’t have the energy for it. I’ll push it back until tomorrow.” 
      • OR...“I know I need to make the effort to get both Protein and Produce in my lunch today, but the only protein I have is a can of chicken and it just doesn’t sound very good, and man that kinda feels like a lot of work, so I’m sure it’s not a big deal if I skip the protein just this time. I’m still getting the produce, at least.” 
  • Sometimes, we even pull others into our negotiation process, if the deal can’t be made on our own. 
    • Here’s how this plays out with your healthy habits: 
      • “I know I need to go to bed earlier, but I’d rather watch another episode of this show. I’ll see if my husband is up for another episode, too, and if he is that’ll seal the deal.” 
      • OR…”Alright, I’m out at a restaurant with my friend and I know what I should order, even though I don’t really want to (I love their french dip sandwich here!), I’ll see what my friend orders. If she gets it, I’ll get it, too.” 


Usually, we refer to our negotiation process as “using excuses”. But really what we’re doing is negotiating with ourselves and striking a deal based on how we feel in the moment. And that last part is kind of the key… When we negotiate with ourselves, we’re asking our momentary feelings to weigh in and help guide our actions. 


We all do it, so don’t feel horrible. I do this, too! Sometimes it happens fast, and doesn’t require very much negotiation (like when you’re offered a bowl of ice cream). But sometimes the negotiation is a bigger process (like when you’re laying in bed at 5:30 am knowing you need to get up to workout.) 


But when did the first ever negotiation take place? 

  • In the garden. Adam and Eve were given healthy guidelines to follow, but temptation crept in. Satan soothed them with comforting words, in fact enticed them with food that was pleasing to the eye. And then they sat there and negotiated it out and struck a deal. 
    • “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:4-7
  • What would have happened if she had declared, after deciding in her heart what was healthy and best, that this fruit was not even up for negotiation or debate? If the option was entirely non-negotiable? Well, the outcome would have been completely different.

What does it mean when something is non-negotiable?

  • Obviously it means that that something is not up for debate or discussion. No negotiations, excuses, or deviations from the plan allowed...regardless of how you may feel or how tempting it sounds. 
  • It’s like me saying to my son, Calvin, “No, you cannot have ice cream tonight and I’m not even going to entertain any negotiations. The answer is a firm no.” 
  • Or it would be like Eve saying to the devil, “No, I have been told by God and I know and trust what is right and healthy for me, and eating this fruit is not even up for debate, no matter how much you try to tempt me. We are not even discussing this.” 


And here’s where we go wrong: Many of our self-care habits are, in fact, open to discussion, debate or negotiation in our mind. And the moment we crack that door open even a little bit, it’s going fling open wide and allll of your excuses are going to rush through, making that door extremely difficult to close again. 

  • I want you to recognize that you do have quite a few self-care habits that are non-negotiable. You do them whether you feel like it or not. You probably never even think about discussing them. 
    • Brushing your teeth
    • Brushing your hair
    • Sleeping at night
    • Taking a shower
    • Eating food
    • Trimming your fingernails
    • Shaving your legs 😉

How can we make other, perhaps more challenging, self-care habits non-negotiable?

  • Step back and analyze the self-care habits that really make you feel your best. What habits always make your body feel great when you do them? Not a momentary pleasure or satisfaction, but that feeling of “deep health”, like you did something really good and important for yourself? Here are some ideas: 
      1. Going to bed before 11pm
      2. Taking a shower every single day
      3. Doing a strength training session every other day or a specific number of times per week
      4. Doing yoga once a week
      5. Going on a walk every day
      6. Not skipping any meals
      7. Eating your PRO’s with every meal
      8. Having only one splurge a day
      9. Doing some stretches before bed
      10. Getting up early to read your bible and do your devotions
      11. Taking a nap every afternoon


  • Whittle your list down to 3-5 so you’re not overwhelmed. 


    1. I’m sure you hear that list and think, “Well yeah! I want to be doing all of those things!” 
    2. But be choosy here. Really prioritize. 
    3. For me, my top 5 non-negotiable self care habits are
      1. Going to bed by 10pm on a weekday and 11pm on the weekend
      2. Strength training M, W, F (or at least 3x a week) and then doing some sort of lighter intensity training on the in between days (like yoga or snowboarding or even riding my horse) 
      3. Eating PRO’s with every meal
      4. Getting up early to read my Bible
      5. Take a break, usually with a nap, every afternoon. 
      6. I know that for me, personally, if each of these things happen daily and weekly, my body really does feel healthy and strong. 
    4. Make sure that your short-list of non-negotiables are actually realistic things. 
      1. It wouldn’t make any sense to put “make a homemade dinner every single weeknight” on your list, if you’ve never been able to do that in your life. 


  • Make a stand, setting your stake in the ground with these specific habits. 


    1. Say in your heart, “These things simply are not up for debate. No excuse can derail me from these habits.” 
    2. Perhaps time frames or your methods can be flexible a little bit, (like when you get that workout done or what that workout looks like), but whether or not it happens at all is just not up for debate.

It's not hard to do...

Friend, this is not hard to do. In fact, just recently, I had a coaching session with my friend Liz who you may know as the moderator in the Strong Mommas Squad FB group...she’s awesome...but we talked about having some non-negotiable self care habits so that things can feel really clear and she won’t get easily derailed. 


After spending some time brainstorming her five non-negotiables, she came up with an excellent list: 


  1. Wake up at 6am every day for coffee and quiet time
  2. Eat breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner every day including produce, protein and healthy fats (one starchy carb per day). 
  3. Exercise every weekday at 8 or 9am 
  4. Manage stress throughout the day through prayer, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and/or rest breaks
  5. Read and relax at 9pm and lights out at 10pm every night. 


Simple, right? But it’s clear. There’s no question about what she needs to do each day to feel her best, and these are the five things that no excuse, temptation or negotiation can derail. These things are simply not up for debate. 

Taking Action

The big idea here is that you need to move some of your healthy habits into the non-negotiable category. Stop hemming and hawwing, allowing your feelings and excuses to sabotage your efforts. Make a select few habits completely non-negotiable and then put your take in the ground! Follow through and watch how awesome you’ll end up feeling. 


Alright friend, that’s it for today. So now you need to go grab a piece of paper and brainstorm through your non-negotiables, ok? Feel free to post them on IG or FB and tag me in them so I can see what you come up with!

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