No Excuses! Offensive or Awesome?

If you’ve ever searched the health and fitness sections of Pinterest, Tumblr, or just the whole internet, you’ve seen photos of men and women looking great, telling us we can look great too.

And telling us that we have ‘no excuses!

That if they’re able to overcome the hurdles, excuses, and difficulties and become super fit and slim, then you can too.

Do you find these images inspirational or offensive? Do they motivate you from a place of joy and aspiration or shame and judgment?

Is 'Fitsperation' inspiring? Are there really 'no excuses' to not be fit and healthy? Is there any way this message can help you on your journey?


The soft-porn-style-oiled-body-with-no-face  style of fit inspiration (like this, this, and this.) images have no place in building healthy body image, relationship with food, or motivation. The models do this for a living. You probably don’t.

Then, there are the images of differently-abled athletes, say with one leg, or in a wheelchair. Like this.

And then there are the “I’m a mom and I can still find time + energy to have a six-pack – you should too.” Like this and this.

Ew, I had to dig through some really bad health advice and imagery to find those links.

Often the second two kinds of images have text saying something along the lines of ‘What’s your excuse?’ or ‘No excuses!’ meaning, of course, that if *I* can do this with three kids/one leg/can’t walk, you can do it too.

Does this imply that if you can’t, don’t, or choose not to – then you must be truly weak and pathetic?

Should ‘No Excuses’ messages offend us?

Sure, if you think they’re saying every person SHOULD look like that/be able to do that and if they don’t they are making excuses and not trying hard enough.

That’s offensive and crappy.

Or are they saying that those bodies or activities are what they love and that there’s no excuse for not going after what you love? That’s not offensive, it’s quite cool.

It really depends on your interpretations

What can ‘No Excuse’ images tell us?

The majority are pretty… icky. I agree that they promote:

– misinformation (“You can look like this if you run!”)

– body shaming (“Fit is more sexy than skinny”), and

– unhealthy ideas about life and self in general (“Don’t stop when it hurts; stop when you’re done”).

But what do these ‘no excuse’ images have to tell us?

If they’re of real people with lives and families, not the headless breast/butt focussed images linked above. Do ‘no excuse’ images have any value?

In my opinions, for me, these images are saying:

‘This is what I want and love. If you really want it too, don’t let excuses get in the way of that.’

This is empowering.

There are no excuses.

But there are valid reasons.

If you don’t have the time or energy to get what you want right now, what you are actually saying is ‘other things are more important to me right now’.

And this is totally cool! Don’t feel pressured to want something and then make excuses. Feel proud that whatever you ARE prioritizing is worth it.

Maybe you prioritise your job and the extra time on the couch that not cooking at home gives you. That’s cool. Stop kidding yourself and just own it. It’s your life, your body, your choice. Just make a choice, not an excuse.

Instead of saying “I wish I could  (go to the gym)  , but I can’t because   (I have so much work to do)  .”

Say “I’m choosing to   (do my work)    right now. It’s important to me and it’s worth it.”

Are you making excuses?

What if it’s not worth it?

What if you REALLY do want a slim figure/stronger body/better relationship/whatever, but can’t right now because your job is too stressful so you don’t have time to eat right and crave candy?

I hear you – we’ve all been there.

And it’s not easy. By definition, if you prioritise one thing, something else has to drop further down (or off) the list. It doesn’t have to be so much a sacrifice as a compromise, if you like, but tough decisions have to be made. I’m going to tell you how to choose what you prioritise.

How to stop making excuses:

First of all, you need to think about what you really want. Check out the (free) SMART health goals setting bundle to get you planning some great goals and get out of excuse-ville.

If you’re not into worksheets (but seriously, they’re awesome), take a long hard look inside. Do you really want to have a six-pack, or do you feel like you should? Do you really want to go gluten-free or is it something you’re doing to fit in?

Working out your ‘why’ for these things is equally important as working out if you really want them. Often, thinking about ‘why’ will show you what you really want and are willing to prioritize. And what you truly prioritize is what you actually achieve. Let’s take weight loss as an example.

Let’s take weight loss as an example.

If we have two women who both want to lose 20kg and we ask them “why”:

– Kelly says, “because I want to go hiking with my children and rediscover the strong family bonds we used to have before I got too heavy to hike comfortably.”

– Heather says, “my best-friend says more men might date me if I do.”

Who do you think is going to make more excuses and not prioritize their goal?

Heather. Which women do you think even really wants it and understands her desires? Obviously, Kelly.

That’s not to say Heather doesn’t really want to lose weight, just that she’s probably got some mental work to do before she’s ready to really do it and succeed.

Or, maybe Heather doesn’t want to lose weight, she just feels like she should want to (if that makes any sense). Maybe deep down she is happy with how she looks, and it’s only external pressure making her think weight loss is what she wants. If this is the case, of course she won’t (and shouldn’t) prioritize weight loss. In her case, she can look at her ‘why’, decide she’s actually happy where she is and start directing all the failed energy of this unwanted goal into something she truly desires.

‘Why’ vs. Excuses

We can see that asking ‘why’ is really important when we’re trying to prioritize our goals and actions. If you do this and decide on what really matters to you, you can feel confident in your decisions, both on a day to day basis:

  • “Should I cook tonight or do I need to get this work done?”

And in the bigger picture:

  • “Do I want to lose 5kg?”

 You’ll be able to stop making so many excuses and focus on what you actually want and hold yourself responsible for getting it done.

Knowing yourself and owning your decisions and priorities is such an empowering and healing step. And any time you start making excuses, you can just return to these things and reassess.

So, in the end, these images are saying “you can do it!”. It won’t be easy, and you might have to shift your priorities, but if you really want something, you can probably either achieve it or vastly improve it.

About Samantha

Hello! I'm Sam and I'm an Eating Psychology Coach. I work with women who struggle with emotional eating and weight loss to develop new strategies and lifestyles so they can stop using food to cope, lose weight, and eat happy.

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6 thoughts on “No Excuses! Offensive or Awesome?

  • Health Coach Kellie

    I love how you clarified the difference between harmful and helpful messages. I am totally against most “Fitspo” and wrote about it in my blog as well. I also appreciate that you pointed about that some people do have valid reasons. Those with Fibromyalgia can’t move as much…. but they can find something that works for them. There are times when people make excuses out of fear of change. I think those are the times where coaches can make a difference. 🙂

    • Samantha Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment, Kelly! I love your blog – it’s gorgeous and full of wonderful information.
      Yes, I totally agree with you – there are valid reasons for not looking or acting like what these images portray, but if we can take the message to not live our lives in fear and unrealised wishes, it’s a great thing. And yes, health coaches can totally help!

  • susiefruitcake

    Hi Samantha – Wow you’ve hit the nail on the head! Over the last few years I have made a conscious decision to prioritise my health as I had suffered with IBS for almost 20yrs. I made this decision, not because someone was telling me I should but because I valued myself enough to make the change. I now feel so much better and have much more energy than I have had in a long, long time. I actually feel healthy again! As for those images … can we really measure ‘health’ by the size of someone’s muscles? Some of us are stronger than that. x

    • Samantha Post author

      Hi Susie – thank you for reading and commenting. I’m so sorry that you suffered for so long, but your blog shows that it wasn’t at all wasted. They help you’re providing people there is awesome. The kind of responsibility and commitment you have to your health journey is the real message I think we should take from these images. And heck no! Muscle size isn’t any indication of health or healing – well said!

  • Kate Shrew

    This is such a great article, Sam! I personally find myself viewing these pictures in both ways that you mentioned. When I am feeling down about myself, they make me feel terrible, but when I am motivated and excited about losing weight, I find them empowering! The best thing you can do in your life is to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, for no one else besides you. Thanks for sharing and for a different way to look at this motivational pictures!

    • Samantha Post author

      Thank you, Kate! I know what you mean – mood can really change how we see things. Your comment that “The best thing you can do in your life is to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, for no one else besides you.” is perfect! We can choose, and if you choose something that others might disagree with, that’s ok, it’s your choice.
      Thank you so much for reading 🙂