“Too Busy”

What does “I’m too busy” mean? Usually, I don’t have much patience with this excuse, because it really means “That’s not my priority.”

But, as you can see, for the past two weeks, I haven’t blogged on this site. Why? Uhhh….I’ve been too busy. Clinic days have been long and difficult (more posts on that to come), family was visiting, we had more events than usual, I’ve been exhausted. Et cetera.

Every day for the past week, I’ve had guilt over not writing on here, and I’ve reflected about what it means to say you’re “too busy”.

I hate hearing from others that they’re too busy to be healthy. So much of my workday is spent explaining, encouraging, even begging patients to make small lifestyle changes towards better health. It’s safe to say that the majority of folks I see are overweight or obese. If there is also low back pain, asthma, reflux, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugars, heart disease (or family tendencies towards those last four), then it’s part of my job to explore the weight issue.

Usually I’ll end up making suggestions for tiny changes: Give up soda…Walk more…check our a low-carb diet plan…do some core strengthening. Some patients get very excited, and we end up going over our allotted time, brainstorming about how they can drink green tea or water with lemon; team up with that neighbor for early morning walks; join Weight Watchers; check out a ten-minute Pilates DVD.

Sometimes, albeit rarely, a patient runs with this, and next time I see them, they’ve lost weight, and usually, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars are down. They’ll have a glow, that inexplicable aura of success, of pride.

But, more typically, no significant changes have occurred, and, without my even asking, I’ll hear about how they were just Too Busy.

I sit there and think that it’s all about priorities. I think about how I’ve lost and maintained lost fifty pounds of post-baby weight over three years. I remember how hard it was to get going, with an eight-week old infant and a two-year old special needs child at home, working four days a week, with a husband whose work takes him on the road often. I was really busy, and it was very hard.

Yes, there has been tons of family support, and I’m lucky I don’t work full-time, and lucky that we don’t need to stress about basic necessities. I get that and I am appreciative. But I’m often sitting with patients in similar positions, and they’re Too Busy. It’s an excuse, it’s lame, and it’s really hard to get past or around that mental block.

But, I need to remember that there’s al lot the things that I’m Too Busy for. Keeping in touch with old friends; organizing photo books; cleaning up my desk; anything in a salon. Then, when I get the text or Facebook message or email from someone, How the heck are you? Haven’t heard from you in ages! I have to make my own lame excuses. Sorry! Things have been so hectic around here, We’ve been just so busy. 

I’ve started two great blogs posts in the past week, but they both involve looking things up, and things have been so hectic around here, I’ve been just so busy, and I haven’t had any time to do a good job with those posts.

So, this morning, I got up before the kids and started this post. Of course, they both woke up before I could get very far. Determined not to feel guilty another day, and also not to make any more excuses, I’ve chipped this out in small increments over the last three hours.

The kids hate it when I’m on the computer. Babygirl keeps grabbing my legs and saying Pick Me Up! Pick Me Up! and Babyboy wants me to build Legos with him. They’re had to have breakfast, which involved cutting up melon, oranges and kiwi for fruit salad, and then pouring Rice Krispies for them anyways. I tried putting on Curious George, but bugging me when I’m typing is much more fun.

But, I did it. The post may be lame, but it’s better than the excuse that I’ve been Too Busy.


3 thoughts on ““Too Busy””

  • you rock. i look forward to your posts (and my husband gets a kick out of the highlights I send him) You are truly an inspiration- thank you!

  • I love your posts, and I usually feel a strong current of “me, too!” Not with this one. I was a primary care doctor for 20 years. I had all those conversations with patients, repeatedly. I had them as my weight climbed and climbed and peaked at over 350 lbs. I had sleep apnea. And I was too busy to do anything about it.

    Was that a “lame” excuse? Maybe. By the time my weight peaked, I was literally lame from knee pain and dyspnea. I was also stuck in a deep hole of shame that still threatens to swallow me occasionally. When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I did what I needed to do get my blood sugars under control – and I lost 100 pounds. I haven’t kept it off because, well, it’s *hard* to give up your only coping mechanism. After back surgery for sciatica and now a stress fracture in my foot, I haven’t been able to walk for exercise and everything else takes too much time. Should I give up the small amount of time I get to be with my daughter when I drive her to school in order to go to the gym in the morning? Or should I give up the small amount of time I get with my husband to go in the evening? Is is still a lame excuse?

    If I’d developed the sciatica before I lost weight, I probably wouldn’t have sought care for it because I would have been afraid of running into that “lame excuse” attitude. I’m still fat, but at least now I fit into the MRI machine and into the chairs in the waiting room, and the nurse can use the normal BP cuff rather than hunting up the thigh cuff (and complaining about how long it takes to fill it up. True story).

    Your patients need you to see them for who and what they are, and to understand that no matter how “lame” it seems to you, those reasons are real to them. The behavior benefits them in some way, and until it costs them something real, they won’t be able to change.

    • You are absolutely right Jay, I made a major omission in my post. Before I get to diet and exercise counseling, I screen for eating disordered behavior. Stress eating, emotional eating, binge eating, food addiction… These are all forms of unhealthy coping. The behavior serves a purpose- I wouldn’t say “benefits”- rather, it’s self-medication. Of course there are so many forms of unhealthy coping; we’ve found ways to use alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, as well as food for this purpose. The treatment has got to match the patient, but you know as well as I that this is a psychological issue at the core, with medical consequences. Therapy, psychopharmacology, 12-step programs… these approaches would be far more appropriate for patients dealing with these issues than diet and lifestyle changes. Even so, when I have a patient who is skipping their therapy, or not going to their AA or NA or OA meetings, and they tell me it’s because they are too busy, I do try to point out that it’s not about busy, it’s about priorities. I can’t speak to your case specifically at all, but I do hope you find the treatment plan that’s right for you.

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