Making a comeback: Instructor Allison Miller, right, and student Rebekka Armstrong participate in a hula hoop class in California. The generation-old fad of hula hooping is making a comeback as a fitness trend. *MCT photo
Making a comeback: Instructor Allison Miller, right, and student Rebekka Armstrong participate in a hula hoop class in California. The generation-old fad of hula hooping is making a comeback as a fitness trend. *MCT photo

When it comes to the excuses people give for not eating healthfully and exercising regularly, best-selling author and motivational speaker Bill Phillips has heard them all.

But the one he hears over and over again is: “I don’t have time.”

People say they don’t have time to exercise. They don’t have time to grocery shop and cook healthful meals. They don’t have time to eat right. They don’t have time to think about their weight.

“It doesn’t matter who they are, they are convinced they don’t have time,” says Phillips, 45, author of the 1999 best seller Body-for-Life and his new book, which is titled Transformation (

Phillips has been helping people lose weight and shape up for 20 years.

“What I teach people,” he said, “is that one great reason for getting healthy overrides a dozen excuses.”

The motivation for giving up your excuses is often right in front of your nose. For many people, it’s as obvious as wanting to stay healthy for their spouse, kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and themselves, Phillips said.

Some may have medical fears, such as diabetes or heart disease, or they may be approaching a landmark birthday such as their 50th, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago and author of The Flexitarian Diet.

The people who are most successful at changing their lives don’t want to be the victim of their own excuses anymore and decide to take immediate action — even simple things, such as drinking water instead of regular soda, getting up earlier to walk and using the nutrition information from their favorite restaurants, she said.

Phillips says that when you give up your excuses, you take responsibility for your own life. “Most every transformation I’ve witnessed over the years was preceded by a dramatic increase of self-responsibility.” People have to accept the fact that they need to “pilot” their own lives, he said. Instead of using lack of time as an excuse, people have to schedule the time they need to exercise and cook healthful meals, just as they schedule a doctor’s appointment, business meeting or lunch with a friend, he says. “There’s always an opportunity to make time.”

Blatner said excuses can be overcome by thinking about them in a new way.

For instance, take the excuse that you don’t have time to exercise.

Think instead: It’s possible to walk 10 minutes several times a day.

Or take the excuse that you don’t have time to cook.

Think instead: It doesn’t take that much skill, fancy recipes or a lot of time to put together a quick, healthful meal such as barbecue chicken, a whole-grain bun and a simple salad, Blatner said.

“You just have to get back to basics with real food.”

Transform your life, step by step

Best-selling author Bill Phillips outlines a plan for turning around different areas of your life in his new book, Transformation: The Mindset You Need; The Body You Want; The Life You Deserve.”

1. Write down three goals

He suggested beginning by coming up with three goals in areas you’d like to have more control over. They might be:

  • Your health.
  • Your time.
  • Your mind-set.

2. Identify action plans

Then decide on an action that you can take in each one of those areas:

  • Your health: You’re no longer going to eat junk food; instead, you’re going to make the conscious decision to eat healthful foods.
  • Your time: You’re going to plan your days in advance and choose to set firm boundaries around the time you need to take care of yourself, to exercise and eat right.
  • Your mind-set: You are going to choose to see setbacks and adversity as opportunities to learn, grow and improve.

3. Get specific

You can make even more detailed plans for acting on those three goals. For instance, when it comes to your health, you might vow to do these things between now and the end of the day tomorrow:

Your health:

  • Eat six nutritious meals that are low in calories.
  • Eat a low-fat yogurt and piece of fruit instead of junk food as a late-day snack.
  • Eat a nutritious, high-fibre breakfast such as low-fat cottage cheese and fruit.
  • Stop at the grocery store and buy several healthful fruits and vegetables.
  • Walk briskly or do another type of exercise for 30 to 40 minutes during your lunch hour or while your children are at sports practices.
  • Have a 10-minute daily health conference with yourself to plan the next day’s menu and the time you’re going to do physical activity.

4. Accept responsibility

Phillips said you also have to realize that there are things you have no control over, such as the food environment at work or how much junk food your significant other eats.

“You need to accept this and decide in advance that it’s up to you to discipline your mind-set in those situations,” he said.