I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Losing weight and getting in shape isn’t rocket science. Eat less, make better food choices, increase your daily activity and establish a regular rigorous workout routine of at least three days a week, and chances are you will lose weight and get in better shape. BUT…. You’re going to have to work for it!
There is no magic pill that’s going to take away your love of pizza. There is no ab routine that’s going to get you ripped in just 5 minutes a week. There are strategies that can help you deal with cravings. Strategies to help you stay accountable to meeting your goals. Strategies to just help you take that next step every day toward a healthier you. However, you have to WANT IT! And I mean REALLY WANT IT!
Do you want to get healthy, OR do you want to want to get healthy?
There is a very important question that you need to ask yourself. Do you want to get healthy, OR do you want to want to get healthy? I know that sounds wordy, almost like a trick, but it’s a real question. Before you answer that question, let it sink in for a little bit.
There are lots of people who say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get in shape”. However, so much of the time, that little statement, even if not spoken out loud, is followed with, “but I don’t have the time”, “but I’m not good at exercise”, “but I have to cook for the rest of the family and it’s too much to make two meals all the time” or some version of “I want to, but…”.
This is where I have a suggestion. You need to be 100% honest with yourself, maybe even talk to someone who really knows you well and will keep you honest. Ask yourself that question. Do I want to get healthy, or do I just want to want to get healthy?
If your honest answer is, “I want to get healthy”, then find a good meal plan, cut your calories, eat your veggies, get active, join a gym, establish a routine, etc. You know what you need to do. If you need support, join a weight management and/or exercise program. If you are honestly wanting to get healthy, you can do it, and you know how, just do it. Take that first step! There are some who aren’t interested in doing anything.
There are a lot of external pressures that tell us how to look, what to do, how to eat. Our real internal response to those things may be something like, “So what, I don’t want to work out” or “So what, I’m not interested in giving up fried chicken or bacon”. I think there is value in owning how you feel. It takes a certain amount of energy to think one way while pretending to be another. No matter what magazines and doctors tell us, we are the ones who get to determine how our lives go. But it’s never quite that simple, is it?
… there is a certain set of our population that really isn’t interested in getting healthier.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “did he just say you can do whatever you want, don’t worry about it? How’s that helpful to anyone?” That’s not what I’m saying, but it’s easy to interpret that way. We actually do have complete control over how we live our lives. That’s it. I can’t make someone want to get healthier. This is simply to acknowledge that there is a certain set of our population that really isn’t interested in getting healthier. If you are one of those people, it’s fine to go and live your life how you like. But there is another way.
If your honest answer is,” I want to want to get healthy”, that is an entirely different place to be. That comes with an understanding that people know that they would rather be in better shape. They also see that getting healthy will require changes that they aren’t yet willing to make. If you find yourself in this place, you might ask yourself, “how do I get to a place where I really want to get healthy?” There is no simple answer, but asking the question and being open to suggestions is a place to start. Again, I think you must start with complete honesty with yourself.
… missing the big picture about “quality of life”.
I believe this honesty starts with your quality of life. We all have different events, environments, traditions, habits and other things that shape how we see the world, and how we see ourselves. As someone who is a big fan of food and eating, I tend to think of good food as adding to my quality of life. Wow, that cake was amazing! In the moment, it is a pleasant experience, and afterward I have this great memory to look back on. The next time, I go back to have the same cake, and though it tastes just as good, it’s not a new experience. It’s really not the same as that first time, and before we know it, we’ve ordered the same cake fifteen times out of habit. It was great the first time, so it should be again. This touches on the subject of emotional eating, where eating that cake equals happiness. But I think we can often only focus on that one thing while missing the big picture about “quality of life”.
Below is a list of questions. There are no right or wrong answers. You may not even have an answer at first and just want to let the question float around in your head as something to think about. Most of all, be honest with yourself.
- Have you ever eaten so much of a food that you love that it made you sick?
- Do you get to participate in all the physical activities that you want to?
- Have you ever had any medical issues as a direct result of diet or lack of exercise?
- Are you happy with how your clothes fit?
- Have you ever thought that your diet or exercise habits could shorten your life?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions that you could ask yourself about your quality of life. This is just to get the ball rolling. I think that we are often only paying attention to the immediate gratification that food seems to provide. It tastes good, so we feel good. It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you are getting because of that food in your life as a whole. It all effects our quality of life! I can stuff myself by eating an entire pizza, and for that short bit of time before fullness sets in it seems good. I don’t get to ignore that after that I feel bloated, may have horrible heartburn or as a result from repeating this habit that I gain weight and have trouble walking up stairs. This may seem bleak, but it’s honest. Honesty with yourself.
Honesty with yourself and your true quality of life could make the difference in moving you from the “I want to want to get healthy” to the “I want to get healthy” group. When you can really see the full effect bad eating habits and lack of activity have on your overall quality of life, you may find yourself willing to make some of those necessary changes.