We’ve got this health thing all wrong.
So much of what we do when it comes to our health is a response to something else. We work out because we ate a donut, or because we’re scared our asses are getting too big. Or we eat a salad for lunch because we ate a muffin for breakfast. Is this mindset really healthy?
Should our entire health crusade be about ‘undoing stuff’ we don’t like about ourselves? Wouldn’t it be better if it was more about empowerment than punishment?
“The best bet is to maintain a healthy diet and participate in regular physical activity. If you do, you will become physically fit…” – National Academy of Sports Medicine
Health shouldn’t be a solution to a weight problem, it should be a tool we use to take care of ourselves, feel better, get more energised, and improve our strength and mind.
It’s easy to simply write this off as a bad mindset, but I think even as a mindset it affects the way we live.
When we ‘eat healthy food’ to compensate for ‘eating unhealthy food’ our end goal isn’t fixing the broken indulge-punish cycle, it’s just easing our conscience. This means we never actually learn how to have a balanced lifestyle, and instead only fluctuate from one unhealthy extreme to another.
When we workout because ‘I ate five donuts yesterday’ or ‘I have to fit in that dress’, a certain number becomes our goal, and once we reach it, the motivation to nurture ourselves is gone.
But what happens when we eat and train well to feel well?
We become more aware of our bodies. We notice that we’re hungry despite only eating lunch an hour ago, or that we’re slumping at our desks. We notice which foods leave us feeling energised, and which leave us feeling exhausted; and once we see the results, not just physical, but mental and emotional too, we fall in love with those and continue to take care of ourselves.
This can be boiled down into one fun statement:
It sounds stupid but it’s true. You have to start before you feel like it, if you want to get to a point where you feel like it.
I can prove it.
When I started running I did not feel like running (still don’t!). But I saw what running did to me. My mind was clearer, I was more energised, and I was fitter (hello dropping a jean size!).
And then when I stopped running, I was antsy. Not because I missed running (I really, really didn’t), but because for every run I missed, I knew I was missing out on all those great side-effects. I was not addicted to working out, but boy was I addicted to the results that came from it.
Similarly, when I decided to try to eat better two years ago, it was work (and it still requires effort now – that doesn’t magically go away, unfortunately). BUT. When I went on vacation and ate crappy food for two weeks, I found myself (weirdest sensation ever) looking forward to eating healthy again. I was missing my salmon, seed and spinach plates. What?!
We need to think preventatively. Don’t wait until you feel sluggish to do something about your health. While motivation might be high, actual energy will be low. Make health a lifestyle rather than a goal and you won’t have to worry about 2 donuts here or a burger there.
Put it this way, it’d be bad for you to wait until your house had completely fallen apart before you did maintenance on it. It would be bad for you to wait for the flat tire on your car to turn into the sound of metal scraping along the tarmac before you fixed it – by that point damage has already been done.
It’s the same with health. Maintain. Staying healthy is easier than becoming healthy.
Move more because it’s good for you and you feel better for it, not because you need to undo something.
Eat well because it energizes you, not because you want to fix the fries you ate last night.
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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