The “No” Muscle

What is the “No” Muscle? What truly keeps us from thriving, from having our best life, from saying “Yes” to fresh foods, to good sleep, to healthy relationships, and to routine exercise? Over commitment, guilt, fear of what others will think, and too much on our plates!

If you are a parent, a hard-working individual (do I dare say a Type A personality?), or just the average American, we all seem to experience a constant state of urgency. “Hurry up!” “We gotta go…” “Move it!” “Come on, what is taking so long?” Have you heard these words before? Or do you say them on a daily basis? Do you know what all this urgency leads to?

Inflammation. Chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, and many more stem from inflammation.

Stress, a constant state of urgency, causes severe inflammation in the body. Our human species has come a long way in evolving to our world today, but our nervous system still doesn’t know the difference between a lion chasing us in the jungle and getting the kids out of the door in the morning. It reacts the same. The wonderful thing about the lion is, if you were lucky, you ran fast enough and were smart enough to seek shelter. Once you were safe your breathing slowed down, your heart rate decreased, your body went back into equilibrium, and then you went back out into the jungle when you felt safe. Now, you rush the kids to school, rush to work, urgently move through your day, rush home to pick up the kids, frantically make dinner as the kids are melting in front of you from hunger, rush everyone through an hour (or more) of homework, hurry everyone off to bed, and then start all over again the next day. Your body never has time to recover and is thrown into a pro-inflammatory state day-after-day.

When we live in this constant state of urgency, are we really living? Are we thriving? I have an exercise for you. Write down everything you have committed to on a regular basis and that’s currently on your plate. Here’s a sample of one mom’s plate:

Volunteer in Kid’s Classroom

Volunteer on Wellness Committee

Volunteer as Room Mom

Volunteer for Teacher’s Brunch

Volunteer for Neighborhood Functions

Volunteer for Pool Functions

Volunteer as Preschool Room Mom

Work (yes actually doing the professional job in between)

Shuffle Kids to all Activities

Household Chores

Menu Planning and Cooking

Girl Scout Leader

Treasurer of Women’s Organization

Chair of Women’s Group at Church

Chair Annual Work Function


Teach Sunday School

As you can see, some of these can be lumped together, such as taking care of the kids. The next step in this exercise is to clear the plate. Wipe it clean. Now, I want you to pick 5 things to put back on your plate that you will truly commit to. These 5 commitments must feel good, be in line with the life you want to live, be the BEST of you, and have meaning and purpose to you. All the rest, say NO. Exercise your No muscle. The next time someone asks you to be on the planning committee, take a long hard look at your plate. If this new commitment is not in line with those 5 you picked for your plate, say NO! Try a few of these out:

“I want to, but I’m unable to.”

“I’m not able to commit to that right now.”

“I really appreciate you asking me, but I can’t do that right now.”

“I’m going to say no for now, but I will let you know if something changes.”

“I’m honored that you asked, but my answer is no.”

Remember, “No” is a complete sentence and doesn’t require further explanation or defense.

This pushing, driving, exhausting, urgent response to life is slowly eating away at our mind, body, and spirit. You life is flashing by and you don’t have a second to truly live it and thrive. I give each and every one of you permission to say NO, to let go of any guilt, to let go of the fear of what other’s may say or think, and to live this one life you have fully. What will be on your plate? Or as I like to say,

What will be on your Menu To Thrive?