Most people understand that they should exercise. They know that they would be healthier if they did. They also know that if they could make healthier food choices and manage their stress. So, why don’t they?
Well there are plenty of reasons for not working out, changing your diet, or trying to combat stress. The explanations typically start with, “I know I should ________, but…” These “buts” are actually “ands”. You may think that they are mutually exclusive, but, they’re not. “I know I need to start exercising and I am too busy to go to the gym.” Both can be true.
Let’s look at some real reasons for not changing:
- Making time to workout will be hard.
- My body aches and I don’t feel like working out.
- I’m tired all of the time and I don’t feel like working out.
- When I get stressed or depressed, eating comforts me.
- Eating is one of my pleasures in life and I don’t want to give that up.
- I don’t like the taste of “healthy” food.
- Meditation is too weird for me.
- It’s easier to just keep doing what I’m doing.
All of these things could be true and they cannot just be ignored for “the better good”. These are also strong anchors keeping us moving forward with change. To get beyond these and begin the change process, address your reasons for not changing. In example, say your body aches and you don’t feel like working out. Start by asking yourself how you could make your body hurt less. Maybe it’s by warming your body up through a short series of mobility or stretching movements. Try it. Don’t worry about working out yet. Simply try to lessen the hold that the aching has on you. Another example might be not liking the taste of “healthy” food. Start by looking at what you do eat and like. Surely something there is healthy. You can eat more of the healthy food that you are already eating. Then take a look at where you might be able to make small tweaks in other foods that you are eating. Maybe a little less sugar in your coffee or a smaller portion of that pizza.
The key to overcoming obstacles to change is to acknowledge them, tweak them to lessen their hold, and then, when you know they are no longer holding you back, add a small amount of the behavioral change you want. Add a little more activity. Throw in a small amount of healthier food on your plate. Take a few minutes to just breathe and relax at your most stressful point of the day.
Give it a try. If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments below.
“Arrgh! I just blew my diet! I can’t do this! It’s too hard for me. I’m such a loser.” “Working out is too hard. I’ll never be able to keep it up!” Have these statements or something similar ever crossed your mind? We can be very cruel to ourselves when it comes to our inner voice and just because it’s us giving the verbal abuse, doesn’t make it any less damaging than if it was someone at home or work dishing it out. Just like abuse from an external source, this kind of negative self-talk can have some pretty serious effects on an individual.
Some of the harmful effects include:
- increased stress and anxiety
- increases feelings of depression
- decreased self-esteem
- limited success in whatever you’re trying to accomplish (let’s face it, you’ll talk yourself right out of trying)
We are what we believe ourselves to be. So, don’t diminish yourself. Change is difficult and you will have ups and downs. Expect that. It’s part of the process. However much you do, it’s more than you’ll be doing if you quit and every little bit helps. Tell yourself how well you’re doing as you challenge yourself to change. Be your own friend.
Note: maybe you start a negative self-talk jar (like a swear jar) and every time you talk down to yourself, you have to put in a dollar. Save the money up to do something that makes you feel good about yourself.
“Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need” was a book I read on networking by Harvey Mackay. The premise is that, because both digging a well and building a network take time, if you wait to start until you need it, it is going to be too late to help you.
Recently, it occurred to me that many people do the same thing with health and wellness. They wait until they have problems before they seek a solution. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having said, “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” and that certainly holds true with our health.
Now, while it’s never too late to start, it can be a lot more difficult fighting your way back from injuries or illness than if you had begun before there was a problem. Proper nutrition and exercise can help with so many health and wellness issues, that the sooner you start, the more likely you are to avoid or postpone them.
If you’re not currently working toward better health and fitness, what are you waiting for? Move more. Better your diet. Manage your stress. Dig your well(ness) before you’re thirsty.
People my age (I’ll turn sixty in December), plus or minus a few years, are either retiring or thinking about retiring. Isn’t that everyone’s goal, to retire, to not have to work anymore, to sleep in, and only do what you want to do? But, is retirement good for us? There have been studies through the years that have shown how people’s health, physically and mentally, decline once they retire. Retirement is also listed 10th on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events. In fact, the reason I started to write this post was because I believed that retirement was typically an unhealthy thing to do. In researching the topic, however, I found some surprising data.
In order to understand this better, let’s discus some of the changes you may experience when you retire.
- Your sense of purpose may change. If you have had a career in some field that inspired you, that loss can leave you unmotivated and depressed.
- Your schedule changes. The time structure and hours you have kept disappear. Suddenly, you may find yourself sleeping late (not always a bad thing) and without a set schedule, you may find yourself not getting around to doing any of the things that you thought you would.
- Your secondary social environment is gone. For many of us, a huge part of the social interactions that we have during the day are with co-workers, clients, and/or customers. Many retirees experience loneliness
- Your physical life may change. While many people may have sitting jobs, there are also a lot of people that are physically active in their jobs. Construction workers to mail carriers will see a loss in the “mandatory” movement that their jobs required. Without regular physical activity, our health and ability to do daily tasks can be compromised.
Well those are some of the changes and some of the negative consequences that can occur when you retire, but… new research has been showing people are getting more out of retirement than they used to. It appears that the keys to their happier, healthier retirement are:
- Finding a part-time job doing something you love (either for pay or volunteering) to give you a sense of purpose. This can also help you build new social connections, possibly teach you new skills, and give you a schedule that can get you up and out of your house.
- Getting or keeping physically active. It’s so important for your health and physical independence to exercise, and now you have the time. Gyms, studios, or health clubs also offer another social environment.
- Continuing to learn. Whether it’s learning a language, arts, or even going back to college, cognitive challenges help maintain brain health.
So, if you are looking forward to retirement or are already there, these are the types of activities to incorporate into your vision of retirement to make the most of your health, fitness, and happiness. Live long. Live healthy. Live happy.