I wrote in my last post about how the gym saved my life. We’re in a complex generation. Healthy food is often less appealing or more expensive. We sit all day at work. There is more incentive than ever to never leave your home.
Ultimately we’re harming ourselves, and sometimes setting ourselves on a long, slow path to endless health problems and lifestyle patterns that seem irreversible.
However, there is no such thing as being too unhealthy or too late in life to turn everything around. And your life and the lives of all those around you will be infinitely better for it.
If you’re having some trouble motivating yourself to start a healthy lifestyle, maybe this could help.
1) Healthy Lifestyle: Exercise… but Find Something You Love to Do
First of all, you’ll find a lot of literature out there that tells you that diet is far more important than exercise for those trying to lose weight. Articles that make such claims are both entirely accurate… and wildly misleading if not utterly harmful. (Here is an example. My Google search for “you don’t need to exercise to lose weight” had over 18 million results!)
Losing weight should never be ones only goal. Being “skinny” isn’t necessarily healthy or appealing. There are many goals that in the grand scheme are more important than weight loss (improved health, better mood, more self control, to name a few). Weight loss is just an amazing side benefit.
There are countless reasons to exercise that go far, far beyond weight loss. And trust me, there’s not a single benefit you don’t want.
Unfortunately, when most people begin exercising, they grab an old, dusty pair of running shoes and hit the pavement. And within the month, their exercise craze has come to an end.
Why? Because most people hate running. I’m among them. I’ve never maintained a consistent running routine, partially because it causes pains in my calves and it’s really dangerous with my torn ACL, but mainly because I just don’t like to run.
Exercise is lots of fun. But only when it is!
I believe everyone has some type of physical activity they love to do. They just may not have found it yet. Try everything you can get your hands on! Yoga, cycling, soccer, weight lifting, BJJ, boxing, just keep trying and trying until one feels great. And when that happens, make it a fundamental part of your life. Make it a habit.
True, someone might argue that your choice is not the most well-rounded form of fitness and has fewer benefits than another. However, three facts:
- Any exercise is better than no exercise. And the exercise you do is always better than the exercise you don’t do.
- All forms of exercise are beneficial.
- And the exercise you love is the exercise you can stick with for the long haul.
2) Healthy Lifestyle: Read Read Read
A common problem many people have with the health and fitness world is the contradictions within the literature. I read articles about exercise and nutrition every day and it can get overwhelming sometimes. In one sitting you can find one “expert” telling you breakfast is the most important meal and another saying that skipping has essential benefits and is the secret to fat loss. One will tell you to do an exercise, another will tell you that same exercise is dangerous. Someone says something is a miracle herb, another says it’s an expensive placebo at best.
What can we do when the health world is filled with endless contradictions?
It has been and always will be frustrating.
So why do I bother with these articles, and why do I recommend others do so as well?
It’s all about knowledge, boredom prevention, and figuring out what works for you. Yes, there’s way too much information and loads of contradictions. There are also gems of ultra-important wisdom scattered everywhere. The more you learn, the more you find what’s consistently recommended or where the food or fitness industry is being disingenuous or downright manipulative. You’ll constantly gain new insights and motivation to try things you’ve never tried before.
Most importantly, the idea that everything is the same for everybody is foolish. When you continuously try new things, you continuously learn more about yourself and what works and doesn’t work for you. And you can get closer every day to the look you want and the optimal health you deserve.
3) Healthy Lifestyle: What the Doctors Didn’t Tell You
I understand that I’ve had worse luck with doctors than most people. I have few if any stories of doctors helping me with any of my health problems, and fewer positive stories of navigating the system–in America or Israel–with any any semblance of success.
What fascinates me is not what doctors have told me throughout the years, but what they never bothered to mention. What I learned on my own. I can count on one hand the amount of doctors I’ve been to in the past five years. Why? Because I eat well and I exercise regularly. What the doctors somehow neglected to tell me was that almost every health issue I’ve ever had would simply go away if I were healthier.
And go away they did. Chronic heartburn, stomach issues, back pains. Everything just fizzled away and I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been, and completely medication free.
Sadly, I have no medical background or research to back up my claims. I just have the personal empirical evidence to support them. Lose weight. Close your laptop and take a hike to the local gym. Put down your doughnut and make yourself a grilled chicken salad. Watch as your maladies and symptoms melt away alongside your excess weight.
4) Healthy Lifestyle: Know Yourself
It’s so easy to believe there are easy fixes or magic formulas that work for everyone. This is what the health and fitness industry would like you to believe. It keeps them in business and, sadly, it’s what we all want to hear.
Unfortunately, life’s not that simple. And to live a healthy lifestyle takes a lot of getting to know all about yourself.
Like many people, I need to go to the gym at the earliest possible moment. If I don’t, there’s a stronger potential with each passing second that I’ll end up not going at all. Some people like workout partners; others, like me, prefer working out all by themselves.
A great example from my own life is my relationship to junk food. There exist people in this world who can eat a couple of cookies and then push the bag to the side. I have an insanely hard time relating to such people. For me, it’s all or nothing. I have to treat myself like an addict. If I eat one cookie, all my cravings surge back, and whether I like it or not, you can kiss that bag goodbye. So it’s been over two years now since I’ve eaten any cake, cookies, ice cream, or candy. The cravings are gone and I don’t miss the junk.
But this isn’t what everyone needs. This is what I need.
Leading a healthy lifestyle should be like a giant personal experiment, constantly exploring who you are and what works best for you. If it works, make it a part of your life. No gains? Move on. But always know that we’re all unique, and our paths to get to the treasure will all be different.
5) Healthy Lifestyle: Tell the World
There are few things in life that give me more pride than seeing my hard work payoff in the mirror. And everyone loves a good success story!
Post everything. Take pictures before you get started. Show everyone your before and afters. Show everyone the medallion you received after your first 5K. Tell the world how you conquered a lifelong food craving. Brag about how you went from a life of Twinkies and aching knees to a figure a professional model would be jealous of. We’ll all happily cheer you on and help your successes snowball.
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