I’ve been a chubby guy most of my life. When I was young my parents never instilled a good sense of what was the right way to eat and exercise, because they didn’t know, because their parents didn’t know. Candy, fast food, and TV watching were the norms.
It wasn’t until I got older that I realized my diet and exercise, or the lack thereof, had to change. But it hasn’t been an easy task.
Meeting your diet and exercise goals can be a tough thing to do, especially if you are setting yourself up with unrealistic ones and haven’t built a framework for healthy living into your life. Here are the reasons why you can’t stay healthy and what to do about them.
Your diet and exercise goals are unrealistic
“I want to lose 20 lbs a month until I reach me ideal weight.” Yeah, you and everyone else.
Losing a bunch of weight fast is basically what everyone wants to do. Humans are creatures that are always looking for the fast and easy way out of any situation. We have been promised that this pill, this diet, and this exercise gizmo will help us become the man or the woman on the front of the health magazines. It’s all unrealistic, and if you think this way you will more often than not fail at your health goals. And when people fail, they tend to give up.
Solution: It’s important to have a goal in mind when it comes to your health, but I recommend it not having too much to do with weight loss, as weight loss isn’t necessarily the greatest metric of overall health. What you can do instead is create goals for the number of times you work out during the week or cutting out a particularly bad food by a certain date. The key is to set yourself up for success with realistic goals. Make them somewhat difficult to reach, but not impossible.
You have no “health framework” installed
To stay healthy you have to have a “health framework” installed in your life. This means that you have to have a set of habits or processes that you do on a daily basis. The problem is that most people try to make a bunch of habit changes all at once and end up failing. And we already know where most failures lead to (queue sad trombone music).
Solution: People can break bad habits in 28 days and they can also create new ones. Rather than signing up for the gym, getting all new pots and pans and cleaning out your kitchen, waking up every morning to run, and changing your diet to an ancestral one in a couple of days, stretch these new habits out over a few months to create your health framework. This is the most realistic way to stay healthy over the long run.
You don’t know what you are doing
Diet and exercise advice is everywhere and people argue about what is right and wrong all the time. “Whole grains are evil. You need whole grains to live. Too much fat will kill you. You need fat to live. You only need 15 minutes of high intensity cardio a day. Work out for at least an hour a day to stay healthy.” You get the idea.
The problem with this is that there is so much information and because of that you could find yourself having no idea what you need to do to stay healthy.
Solution: Rather than merely “guessing”, become an informed health aficionado. Read some health research (and not the kind that is sponsored by food and health companies), seek out a good nutritionist and schedule a one-on-one meeting, look for some exercise trainers and explain your health goals. Rather than blindly follow the next big trend in “health science” do a little research to find out what will work for you.
You have no support from people around you
I couldn’t imagine having to live a healthy lifestyle if my wife was bringing home Twinkies and Hohos and eating them in front of me. That wouldn’t work.
I have seen many people try to make a health change as the people around them stay unhealthy. This isn’t just difficult, it may be downright impossible for some people. Some people are addicted to foods or the thought of certain foods (like sugar). It’s a real problem and by keeping a food addicts “drug of choice” around them 24/7, failure to stay healthy is inevitable.
Solution: If you want to stay healthy you have to make it known to the people around you. You have to put your foot down and let them know that the bad food has got to go. Another nice thing would be instead of spending quality time in front of the TV (or should I say, not-so quality time), you can go for a nice walk or possible hike in the woods. You have to ensure that the people around you support your healthy lifestyle changes to make them stick.
The key to staying healthy is to create realistic and measurable health goals and slowly reach them. You have to have a framework installed and to do that you need to know what you are doing. Having a support group around you will then further your success.
This way of life isn’t easy, but once you start moving forward it becomes natural to stay healthy.
(Photo credit: diet for girl via Shutterstock)