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Why You Can’t Stay Healthy and What to Do About It

Why You Can’t Stay Healthy and What to Do About It

    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.

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    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).

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    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.

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    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.

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    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)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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