Happy July to all! Thanks for all the positive feedback concerning my last post. Seems quite a few of you got some good information out of it, which is always nice to hear.
Since this month we celebrate our Independence in the States, I got to thinking about freedom and choices and how that relates to our health. That got me thinking, “What happens when we are bombarded by so many choices, that we actually become anxious and obsessed with eating and being healthy?” Technically, there is a medical term for the obsession of being healthy – Orthorexia. I don’t believe I know too many people who legitimately HAVE this condition, but I DO know there is plenty of misinformation out there to cause confusion and anxiety. So here’s some advice on how to lift that burden off your shoulders for good and just…live.
Let’s start with my favorite subject – FOOD.
What I typically hear from most people:
“What foods are good for me? I hear Paleo is the way to go, is that good? What about eggs? They’re “bad” for me, right? And how about vitamins, I hear thats a load of garbage, so I shouldn’t take those, right? And how often should I workout? And how much cardio is TOO much cardio and what if I overtrain? AHHHHH!!!”
Well, now you’ve completely turned yourself into a big ball of anxiety because you can’t figure out how to even get to Step #1.
Fact – We cannot survive without food. But we have the freedom to choose which foods to eat. And, better yet, we have the freedom to choose which ones we KNOW will literally weigh us down and pack on a few extra lbs, and those that will lift us up, make us feel better, make us lighter, and help sustain us.
The first step to freeing yourself from this way of thinking and obsessing? Trial and error. It’s more intuitive than anything.
The question becomes: “Who are you listening to?”
Are you listening to your friends or co-workers: “You probably shouldn’t be eating all of that. Aren’t you on a diet?”
Are you listening to some doctor on TV: “Take these Raspberry ketones, you’ll burn fat at lightning speed!”
Are you listening to people who enable you: “I can’t eat like you do…you eat some of the weirdest foods. You should live a little!! Here, have some cheesecake. Better yet, just give me the cheesecake, I’ll eat it for you.”
The first step is to listen to you. While we all have the ability to do our own research on what foods are the most nutritious or most healthy for us, it doesn’t take a Masters in Dietetics to tell us that slice of apple pie is probably not going to help you lose weight like that one apple will. Somewhere along the way, we have become slightly obsessed with being super duper healthy and fit. And it got complicated. So if you”uncomplicate” things, that weight is slowly lifted off your shoulders over time.
(This is easier for people who do not have serious eating disorders/obesity/anorexia. That’s an entirely different issue that I’m not addressing here. This is advice for your average dieter.)
Let’s say you have an auto-immune disease or condition where you DO have to be constantly aware of what you eat. The person with the nut allergy is probably going to have an easier time listening to his/her own voice due to the fact that if they don’t, they could become seriously ill or die if they choose the wrong foods. I don’t have a food allergy but I do have an auto-immune disease (Ulcerative Colitis) which I have blogged about before.
I have had to decipher between the voices telling me that if I just did a Paleo diet, I could cure myself. I know they only have good intentions and the research could suggest that this is entirely possible. I gave in and tried to eat differently and avoid grains for awhile. I felt, for a while, that my freedom to eat the way I WANTED to, was taken away and now I had to adapt to this NEW way of eating.
But guess what? Nothing happened. My flare-up didn’t go away. And, even when it did go away with medication, and I ate grains/foods that supposedly would do me harm, I didn’t get sick. So, through trial and error, I came to the conclusion that I should have just listened to my own voice to start with. Something inside me told me that a simple diet wouldn’t cure something that I’ve had since I was 14 years old. It might work for SOME, but it didn’t for me. And that’s okay! I had the choice to try an alternative way of eating and I did.
What about fitness and getting in shape? How about that guilt trip we put ourselves through when we KNOW we have time to get to the gym and we SHOULD go but we just don’t WANT to?
How do you think advertising agencies stay in business? They put out those infomercials and billboards and commercials telling you, “You are not good enough, therefore, take this pill/drink this shake/wear this body wrap/buy this treadmill/join this gym and you will finally be good enough.” And the sad part is, many of us listen to those commercials and we believe those lies. This is how the confusion starts. And this is when people start to HATE their own bodies and HATE the process. No wonder they stay away from the gym!
Again, it comes down to who’s voice you’re listening to? If you have zero desire to get in shape, by all means, don’t waste my time or your time by coming to the gym and hogging a machine that I could be on. Seriously, don’t. (That’s my attempt at reverse psychology). I truly believe we all desire to be healthy. But the process of exercising CAN be burdensome.
I met someone recently who said he had a barrier preventing him from getting in shape. He stated he hated and dreaded exercise so much that he could NEVER love it. Therefore, he never did it. This was the wall he was trying to break down.
Well, Newsflash: Not a whole lot of people LOVE to exercise. Not a whole lot of people LOVE their job, but they go to get a paycheck and provide for their families. Not a lot of people LOVE to go to school but they go so they can learn and educate themselves so they can be a contributing member of society. You don’t HAVE to LOVE exercise to do it. But you should LOVE YOURSELF enough to do what is right for your health.
Ever heard that saying that goes something like: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” How about we stop obsessing about how often we’re going to the gym and just decide to GO. And then when we get there, just doing one thing well. Do one thing. Wouldn’t that be better than going to the gym and doing NO THING?
Examples of just one thing:
1. Recumbent bike/stationary bike for 10 minutes.
2. 10 push ups/15 sit ups/ 20 squats
3. Walking on the treadmill for half a mile
4. Taking one group fitness class
Seriously, this is probably the most basic of basics. Anyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what level you are at, can do any of these “one things.” Imagine if you did all 4 of those things in one day. Well damn, now you just went did a pretty good workout! Give yourself a pat on the back! Why? Because it’s better than no thing.
You should see the look on someones face when I tell them how simple this is. It’s like they just discovered the meaning of life. They feel relief because they can finally let go of all that was holding them back. All those voices telling them, “No you aren’t working out hard enough if you don’t feel like puking at the end of your workout!” “No, you should’t eat that, EVER!” “No, you can’t do that!”
So go ahead and start simplifying your food choices. Start simplifying your workouts. Listen to yourself, tune out the “other” voices. Let go of all that garbage weighing you down. And do one thing well. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how light you start feeling as that burden of all that was once heavy starts to fall off your shoulders.