The No’s Have It

(Originally posted May, 2009)
Are you committed to achieving the goals of living a longer life, and to live with a better quality of life as your hair succumbs to frost? Is your desire to, not just want to keep up with your children, but to possess the energy, the speed, and the stamina to stay a step ahead of them? Do you wish to take a softer body and forge it into something hard, more faceted, and compelling? Or, do you simply wish to break a few hearts as you strut through your daily life at work, at school, or in your community?

Any one of these could pass for a noble fitness goal. However, if you are serious about success in this, you better stock up the word no – you’ll be needing a lot of them.   
Want to succeed?  Get yourself an armload of these...

Want to succeed? Get yourself an armload of these...

In fitness there exists an aura of negativity surrounding the word no. No is too often associated with being deprived of something wonderful such as edible treats like pie, candy or ice cream. Saying no can also leave one feeling void of a moment, or of feeling isolated from your proximate surroundings – like skipping a movie with friends, just to avoid the popcorn or Juju Bees. It’s as though with each no uttered on behalf of your fitness aspirations, lightning strikes, thunder claps, and the black crow of negativity flies swiftly in and out of the scene with your sense of enjoyment held firmly in it’s greedy talons.

What flies freely with your ambitions...

The concept of no is not equal to the concept of zero. We’re not Mayan mathematicians here, just a growing heard of dumb-happy fitness enthusiasts trying to feel and look better. So explore with me that the word no is a tangible and positive building block for your fitness success. No is a stone which can be can be assembled into the structure of personal success, reaching beyond the heights of a Mayan pyramid.

Don’t get me wrong, saying no isn’t always easy. Saying no isn’t automatic. Take the dessert menu for example. If desserts are the devil, and they are, the dessert menu is a bright neon sign which reads:

“Welcome to hell, it’s a really nice place here, you’ll have a lot of fun and nothing bad will happen while you’re visiting.”

Funny, we follow that sign again and again. Dessert menus are the wicked sum of aesthetic appeal, glorious options, and a subtle temptation that appears so harmless at a glance, but will pistol-whip you with reality — only after you realize what you just ate. Say no to desserts 90% of the time and you’ll be a head of the game.

Here’s some real math for you every night dessert people: If you eat dessert nightly, and the average dessert is (let’s suggest) about 400 calories, in a year’s time you could lose 41 pounds in exchange for 365 no’s. No sounds better already, doesn’t it?

In the yin and yang of it all, all nos offer up a yes...

In the yin and yang of it all, all no's offer up a yes...

Saying no can be productive in your workouts too – pain for example. That burning sensation often associated with strength training, yoga, Pilates, short term intense cardio, or even steady state cardio, might be holding you back from the full potential of your workouts. Just say no to the pain, and say no to stopping or backing off from your exercises just because it burns a bit, and you might be saying yes to success.

No works. When you have completed that which you set out to do, your no will have turned into a resounding yes to the achievement you have realized. You will walk taller for having pushed yourself with the help of a few no’s.

One no doesn’t always do it though, sorry to say. Sometimes a series of no’s is required. That’s when saying no can be it’s hardest, because multiple no’s usually mean there is a family member or a loved one at the receiving end of your no.


“No Honey, I would rather workout or go for a walk right now, than sit and watch Dancing With The Stars.”


“No Sweetie, I just finished my run. I would prefer not to follow it up with an ice cream cone.” These no’s are pretty hard, and can certainly be disruptive to a relationship.

No’s are not always appropriate in these instances. Sometimes a no disguised as a yes can be more suitable.

“Yes Mom, I’ll have a slice of your pecan pie, but just a sliver though – tryin’ to watch my weight.”

No feelings were hurt in this instance, and little harm was done to your form by ingesting a sliver, rather than your Mom’s typical three pound serving of pie. Sometimes, it’s just better to keep the peace with a no-light, disguised as a yes.

No’s are limitless, you may use them as much as you wish. You need not worry about running out of no’s, they grow within you like kudzu along the Alabama roadside. No’s are self replenishing. No’s will always be there for you to lean on when you are faced with hard choices. No’s are like poison arrows in the bottomless quiver of your discipline – available to be drawn and fired into the heart of temptation whenever he approaches you.

Be it temptation from within to not exercise, or temptation from the outside to eat the wrong foods, with each no uttered in the face of fitness virtue, the clouds part, giving way to beams of light which will illuminate the path to your fitness goals, whatever they might be. Be well. rc 

9 responses

  1. Always great! I have learned the power of NO & did a lot of years ago.. my family members & friends are used to it! 🙂

    Also important in terms of time & me time. People live a crazed life & you can’t always say yes to every invitation or request to do something. Me time is important to in terms of peace of mind. It makes all the difference!

    Thx Roy.

  2. Jody: “Me-time” I think you just inspired a post for next month. I know you have addressed this previously, but I will add me-time to my list of things to write about — sharpening the saw 🙂

  3. As she looked up at me, sliver haired and sweet faced, the face I had known and loved for all of my days, while holding out that plate of just baked cookies, speaking in her lovely seductive voice, “Please have another of my cookies little J.”

    “No, Grandma, I don’t think I will.”

    The rest of the No’s have been quite easy after that 🙂

  4. Hi Roy, I just discovered your blog and it’s a breath of fresh air. When I read a blog I am looking for motivation to continue on the right path-not permission to eat low-fat desserts or a recommendation for the latest get-thin-quick scheme. In scrolling through I can tell that I’m going to get what I came for here.

    Glad I found you.

  5. Dr. J: Yes, that’s a tough one. For all of those slices of my Mom’s pecan pie that were covertly placed in the garbage can, or the dog’s mouth, I am ashamed. For those that I did partake in, I am grateful. Checks and balances; family style.

    Karen: Thank you for dropping in! There are a zillion blogs that prescribe foods, diets, and exercise scheme and protocols. I would rather strive to get people thinking about why this matters, and why we should try — and in some cases, we it shouldn’t matter quite so much.

  6. I think the nos are quite important if one wants to lose weight and keep it off. It still feels awkward, but I don’t feel like I have a choice. No, my favorite new world. It’s like being 3 all over again!

  7. Pingback: The 5 Most Effective Disciplines To Tone Your Arms And Glutes… « Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

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