Have you ever had a friend who told you she was starting a new diet or exercise regimen – but at the end of 8 weeks, she looked exactly the same as when she started? No thinner, no healthier, no more radiant or energetic? And when you asked her how it was going she just kind of……changed the subject?
Have YOU ever woken up one morning and declared, “This is IT! I can’t TAKE it anymore! I have GOT to start eating better and exercising! Today is the day I will BEGIN!!”. And then, by the end of that very same day you were drinking a frozen margarita instead of going to the gym?
I get it.
We have such noble intentions, but sometimes life just gets in the way. Or we get distracted. Or someone brings cupcakes to a meeting. Or you have a full week of client dinners. Or all your gym clothes are in the laundry.
Whatever knocks you off course, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and as though, no matter how badly you want it, the universe is conspiring to keep you from being ‘healthy’.
Even if this is true – and the universe really IS working its magic specifically to keep YOU from being a healthier human being – I would like to suggest that there are probably a few other things going on, as well. There are clear reasons why some folks manage to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, while other people are constantly falling on and off the wagon. The good news, though, is that these things are a lot easier to control than…..the universe. Without further ado, I present:
5 Of The Biggest Mistakes People Make When They’re Trying To ‘Be Healthy’.
1. No Clear Goal in Sight
What does being healthy really mean to you? What’s your definition, if you had to write it out? Write it out. How specific can you be? If your idea of ‘healthy’ is simply a vague, magical ideal, then how will you know how to achieve it? How will you even know if you’re on the right path? If you want to lose weight, HOW MUCH weight would you like to lose? If you want to have ‘more energy’, how will you measure what that means in your life? Would you like to be able to sprint up the subway steps without being winded? Run a marathon in November? What are your health goals?
2. No Understanding of WHY
Why are you even doing this? What are your reasons for wanting to be healthy – as you have defined it? If you are a slave to the idea that you’re ‘supposed’ to be healthy and that it’s what you ‘should’ be doing – my guess is that you will find yourself dragging your feet, resenting it, and possibly sabotaging yourself. Cupcakes at work are much easier to resist if you have some concrete reasons in your mind for avoiding them. What are some very specific, real-life reasons that you might choose to live a healthier lifestyle? Make sure they mean something to you.
3. Trying To Be Perfect
True story from my life, before I ‘upgraded’ my thinking: I used to have a food scale so that I could weigh all my food to make sure I was eating the perfect amounts of everything – even chips. Yes. I weighed my chips. Now, food scales are awesome and can be very handy kitchen gadgets under the right circumstances but, clearly, I was abusing my poor food scale. And myself! Trying to be perfect with your food – or with anything – is completely crazy-making and a surefire way to go off the rails and rebel. You just can’t live your life with such rigidity. You are not a FAILURE because you didn’t have exactly 6oz of lean protein with only 1tsp of healthy fats and a spritz of lemon. Life happens. Sometimes you have 7oz of lean protein and it’s not the end of the world. Ease up.
4. Making It Too Complicated
Once upon a time, people ate organically-grown, whole foods when they were hungry, and they ran around outside a lot. The End. Somehow, though, we now think that we need funky whey shakes and power bars and powdered protein smoothies in order to be ‘healthy’. We think we need to eat in specific ratios and combinations – or at well-timed moments in the day. We have completely lost touch with the abject PLEASURE of eating natural, whole foods, simply prepared in a way that honors the ingredients. We have also lost touch with our natural hunger. Too many times when we set out on a health ‘program’, we follow the program instead of following our own natural instincts. This sets up a conflict within us that will ultimately cause us to rebel and abandon the whole endeavor.
5. Forgetting That Life Goes On After The ‘Program’ Is Over
I once did the cabbage soup diet for a whole week in my early 20′s. Truly – I ate nothing but that lame cabbage soup for an entire week – and I totally lost weight. It ‘worked’. But then you know what happened when that week was over?? I ate an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos because I was so freakin’ hungry and deprived. It’s important to plan for life AFTER whatever regimen, diet, or program you may have started. Life is long and wonderful – too long and wonderful to spend drinking meal replacement shakes and weighing your food. If it’s not something you can imagine yourself doing long-term as a way of life….then you probably won’t stick with it long-term as a way of life. What if you sought to be healthy for the long haul – not just for 21-days?
Please leave your comments below and let me know if any of this resonates for you. How do YOU define ‘healthy’ and why, specifically, is it important to you to achieve?
Veggie image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net