Exploring the definition of health is something I enjoy. It’s one of those trigger words like exercise, fitness, body fat, and Donald Trump. People go nuts when they hear such a trigger word because they have attached all sort of meaning to it … for better or worse. Continue reading “3 Little-Known Types of Health – Pt. 1”
Have you heard that stress is deadly? Jeeze that’s stressful to think about. Continue reading “Finding Peace in Times of Stress is Everything”
When it feels like your only salvation is Netflix and instant pizza it is easy to pass on a workout. Then another. Once more and your body forgets what fitness even feels like. Life happens and exercise cannot always be a priority. But if that is the case then why do so many of us regret not sticking with a health and fitness routine? On the other hand, does anybody know somebody who regrets being in shape?
What Is Exercise…Really?
Deep down we know it isn’t the gym we are skipping, an early morning run, or our evening yin yoga routine that eases stress and gives us wonderful sleep. Nope, ignoring fitness is giving up on yourself one day at a time. And the body knows this if we know how to listen: pain, disease, depression or anxiety, poor sleep and poorer sex lives are common symptoms of an underactive body.
Despite what the Silicon Valley technocrats think, we are not robots or computers. Even if our bodies are super advanced machines, we have nothing in common with electronic boxes sitting on a desk all day needing only a power outlet to function. We are made to move…just a quirk of creation I suppose.
I feel better with that sci-fi rant out of the way. Thanks for bearing with me as I refocus this article.
It Starts With Your Head
Macro means big and micro means small. Skipping a workout is a micro aspect of your lifestyle; working out 3 times per week over the next 8 weeks to reverse type 2 diabetes is a macro one. When it comes to fitness a lot of macro goals go something like this:
“I need to drop 15 pounds before next month’s social function”
“I hate my body and the idea of a gym membership gives me hope”
“Muscles get chicks”
Somewhere, somehow exercise became a chore to please others, attract a partner, numb the anxiety of health negligence. No wonder people hate it so much.
Love Yourself Dammit
Exercise is not punishment and why create stress over seeing it as another “to do” on the old to-do list? Movement is a gift we can give our bodies for allowing us to exist in this world as something solid. Would you rather be a ghost, a shadow, or a dandelion seed floating in the wind? A jellyfish? Maybe a Wi-Fi signal? Our body lets us do physical work, so let’s do some physical work. Why? Because being alive and well is a blessing. Don’t believe me? Try getting eaten by a boa constrictor…
Viewing exercise as self-care is a transformational shift. And it is an honest assessment. Movement is a tune-up for body and mind. A way of showing gratitude for your human vessel. Love is a verb, an action, making exercise a fantastic high-energy way to send love to yourself.
Think for a minute how good it feels to be loved. Your partner or pet dog, a child or a parent. Contrast that with feeling unloved. Rejection is the ugliest feeling in existence. Think how important your relationship with your body is…and can be, when you consider the power of love and acceptance.
Before you skip a workout tell yourself I am committed to my health. Then ask yourself Why.
When it comes to the gym, yoga, healthful eating, stretching, juicing veggies, or doing anything else that is good for you but you don’t want to do, ask why I am doing this? This question activates your neocortex: the thinking, planning, rational part of the brain that wants you to win. So take a deep breath and imagine your fittest, healthiest, most in control you. This vision of your highest self is the product of self-discipline that comes from being in harmony with yourself mind, body, and spirit. See, an exercise routine is more than a way to feel good or change your body; it is a tangible way to change your relationship with yourself. And if you happen to be the selfless type and see no benefit from self-care, try it and see how it improves your relationships with others, and ultimately the whole world.
Health is a Rabbit Hole. How So?
1. Everything we are told about health, wellness, and fitness is utterly backward. Like Carroll’s Wonderland, where nonsense makes sense and outrageous claims are status quo.
Nobody likes fake news . Well, the health and wellness industry is OG Big Papa Fake News. Everything comes down to product sales, using magazines, websites, and fitness influences as advertising mediums. Health care is just as bad. Don’t get me wrong, doctors, nurses, and health techs are very important and compassionate people, but in a system where profits are made by treating symptoms, not preventing disease, we become more valuable when sick than when healthy.
The result? We are deceived into a state of powerlessness, clueless how to care for our health and how to look after our best interests. The information is out there but only experience will show what works.
2. Once you really embrace self-care and start learning what you need, what you don’t, and what makes you thrive, the journey into Self becomes an endless pursuit that fundamentally changes you a as person.
Someone wise once said self-care is the new rich. I couldn’t agree more. But taking care of yourself goes beyond a joint and a bubble bath. It means turning the gospel of health on its head. In the New Wonderland we exercise because it feels good and it teaches us appreciation for our bodies. We eat nourishing food of the earth to balance our brain chemicals and feel light, strong, and energized. We are free-thinking enough to realize that being ruled by stress and taste buds is the root of disease and dissatisfaction with our bodies, not genetics or aging or the “freshmen 15” or any other excuse for failing to put a solid self-care routine into practice.
Speaking of stress, it’s a choice and no one is handing out golden tickets or gold medals for Most Haggard. Its cool to feel calm, to fell like yourself. But it takes a bit of practice because there is just.so.much.craziness in our reality today. The thing is, everything is based on perception…yours and yours alone.
Yeah the news is horrific and so is the mother-in-law. Everything is bad and we are dying a day at a time.
But here’s the thing: negative thinking is an addiction as real as Oreos. Luckily the brain can be rewired. Through inner work like meditation and exploring our subconscious we can change how we think–which absolutely changes the world around us.
Because our days are so full of noise and distractions we lack self-awareness. We have become detached from our Self and rely only our reptilian brain and pleasure centers to get us through each day, causing depression, anxiety, and disease. But the human organism is much more complex and existence is infinitely deeper than we realize, but it require an inward focus.
3. We are evolving. Breakthroughs in physics, psychology, and neuroscience, paired with a rebirth of ancient wisdom, offer us soul guidance on every level.
Less self-sabotage more self-love; less toxicity more aligned relationships; less anxiety for tomorrow more living from the heart today.
The old ways have served their purpose. Thanks to the internet, new communications technology, and journalists who still believe in honest storytelling we are realizing that people have more in common than not. We are waking up to the fact that our world must be shared with each other and all other living creatures, unless the movie Mad Max sounds like a fun existence. Because our inner-state dictates our outer-state we must stop the war with ourselves to realize world peace; we need to see that compassion is strength. Love will save but we need to learn, individually and collectively, what it means to love.
Something great is coming our way. The wise will keep an open mind and learn what it means to embody one’s highest self.
Think back when you qualified for a home loan. That hard work and dedication finally paying off. Felt good, right?
Scoring hundreds of thousands of dollars was no accident and probably was no off-the-hip decision. It was a process. You meet with a loan officer and formulated a plan. Set a savings goal. Stuck to it…mostly. Refocused after some impulsive spending sprees maybe, but never took your eyes off the prize.
Qualifying for a gigantic home loan wasn’t random or haphazardly done. No 21-day shortcut to bank approval, no blaming family, friends, or co-workers for tempting you to overspend.
You made a goal and KNEW you could accomplish it. And your willpower increased as the vision took shape.
Getting healthy is the same, exactly the same. Losing weight, building muscle, rehabbing injuries, reversing disease, feeling as healthy as a jacked racehorse, it’s all the same: Planning. Goal-setting. Consistency. Amen.
And yep, this goes against most ideas about getting fit. Why? Because quick fixes and secret solutions are deceptive nonsense, marketing ploys to profit off confusion, impatience, and feeling powerless. If popular claims of health and fitness ever seem baffling, trust me, it’s intentional. Getting your wellbeing under control is too simple to satisfy the greed of ineffective supplement companies, dishonest fitness magazines, and the sickcare we call healthcare.
But you don’t have to fall for all that.
Planning for success begins with killing the notion of quick fixes. No single food, supplement, exercise, or diet will do jack shit to change your body. It just doesn’t work that way. The human organism is too complex and highly-tuned to be tricked into dropping a bunch of precious fat or building metabolically costly muscle from something as simple as a diet pill or gym workout. It’s annoying but it’s the truth.
You Are So Capable
Once you’ve dropped the illusions it’s time to get down to business. Good news is you’ve already got 2 of the 3 requirements for unlimited heath improvements: Patience and consistency. The 3rd is a plan.
Stop Thinking About It. Take Action About It
Hire a fitness pro to show you how to lift weights and set fitness goals, create a plan to follow, and rework your eating habits to reach them. Meeting with someone who knows what s/he is doing is worth so much more than hours of surfing the World Wide Web saying “WTF?” at the heaps of contradictory fitness advice/claims /horseshit.
Ta Ta For Now
If spending a bit of cash on getting fit sounds no good, remember that it’s your quality of life for fuck’s sake. Hating your body, being in constant pain, or feeling hella tired and greasy everyday have simple fixes and are very much within your power. But remember, it takes knowledge, planning, and grit. Gotta stick to your plan and never forgetting your goals.
And if you already know what you need to do, then do.
Don’t talk about it be about it.
Friends, family, and lovers sure can be hell on our diets.
Why? I don’t know, so I a wrote this post to shake out some answers. I started by asking a bunch of friends and family about their thoughts on sabotage by loved ones. Then I did a bit of research. Here are the more common answers:
They equate food with affection
We base our lives around food. Weddings, birthdays, dates, holidays…and most other days. Eating and thinking about eating takes up an insane amount of our mental energy. It’s so pervasive that hardly anyone even thinks about the stranglehold eating has on us. I sure didn’t until I went on an intermittent fasting kick a few summers ago and realized how much of my life was structured around meals.
And what happens when you first start cleaning up your eating? People will gang up on you, piling on the social pressure as if you single handedly want to destroy Tradition Itself. They will get sad and offended when you turn down a plate of shitty white cake at the office party. Or pass on the fried appetizers. Or skip the pitchers of beer after bowling league and stuff. Like, no one has the right to act dejected because a houseguest simply does not have room for pie after Easter dinner.
But they will.
Guess what though? Pass on the pie and ice cream and yeah, family might give you a little crap…at first.
Truth is, making a healthy choice is damn inspiring to the people around you. They start coming up talking about how they want to quit this bad habit or that one. Or they are the ones passing up dessert at the next holiday hangout. People are crazy. Watch and see.
They were raised this way
Most of us learn how to eat from our caretakers. Schools don’t teach nutrition and healthful balanced eating isn’t exactly intuitive. So we carry on the preferences of our parents. This can be good or bad but it’s usually bad. Why? Because your average shopper has faith in dietary ridiculousness like the food pyramid. Or believes that yes, Pop-Tarts are part of a balanced breakfast. School lunches are mostly trash, take-out food equals colon cancer, and sugar may be more addictive than heroin.
It is a vicious cycle with no one to blame.
So what is the solution?
Learning to eat right is pretty dang easy and so worth it as millions and millions of people suffer from obesity and numerous food-related diseases. Only by learning to eat healthfully do we realize that we never learned to eat nutritiously. Breaking cycles is good.
Your boo is just way too comfortable in the relationship
The sad and unfortunate fact is that 75% of people who go through a drastic weight loss transformation end up divorced at the end of the process – Dr. Mondo
Did you read the above quote? Can you believe It? 3 out 4 marriages failing because one partner got fit and healthy while the other did not. This is a tragedy because as the dieter is busy getting empowered and rewriting her story, her partner may spin out as his attachment issues flare up. He might bring home a few quarts of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s, or bitch about your gym time, or act out in any number of ways that communicate loud and clear: I am not comfortable with you kicking this much ass.
Here is a great resource for compassionately telling your threatened partner to fuck off and let you do you. But at the end of the day realize that healthy change and positive growth are your natural rights and anyone who makes you feel otherwise needs to step off your shoes and worry about their own selves.
Others find your results threatening
Change is scary. Even so, those who should be supporting your health efforts probably aren’t because they don’t want a positive example of change staring them in the face all day.
Deep down we all know what is good for us and what is not. So what happens when we don’t want to change? We attack the source of whatever is making us feel inadequate.
Let’s face it, we are masters at self-foolery. And as long as no one comes along to ruffle our feathers, we can float through life on a nice big raft of our own self-delusions. Here’s a great quote I found from a blog post titled Subconscious Sabotage: Why Friends and Family Clip Your Wings
If you succeed, that means that they have no excuse for not fixing their faults. It’s easy to be fat and say ‘oh I can’t lose weight’ until your best-fat-friend loses a ton and proves you wrong – nateliason.com
Maybe they just suck
I read some craziness in Daily Mail about friends (I’m thinking frenemies) not wanting to hang out with dieters because they are “less fun.” This is ugly ostracism at its finest. On one hand it makes sense where these friends are coming from: who wants to feel gross and fat when you’re out with a friend-turned-health-nut? Even so, making a leper of someone working to improve herself is bad form.
Yeah ok, maybe just say whatevs and go find some less toxic friends.
Not everybody likes change. Even when it is your own life people are still gonna bitch. An easy solution is to keep your weight loss plans to yourself as much as possible. A lifestyle change is a big deal. It’s exciting and you want your people to know but you don’t want to hear a bunch of guff either. So what’s a dieter to do? Don’t talk about it, be about it. The cool thing about adopting healthy habits is if you do it quietly and without falter, people will respect it. And they will be asking for advice in no time.
Have you despised exercise forever? Are words like exercise, gym, running, push-ups, etc., etc., emotional triggers? Let’s explore why and hopefully fix it.
We are great at remembering hurtful things
Strong experiences make strong memories. Why? Because exciting or terrible times make us feel a lot more than usual. Feel is short for feelings you know, which are intense. Feelings call the shots, which is just how life goes; even 100% logical types are driven by their repressed emotions. Booze, drugs, sex, slot machines, and checking out via electronic “screen time” are ways to hide and escape our emotions (and emotional memories) for a minute.
Personally, I think memories are stored feelings, emotional snapshots of an event (or person) compressed and saved on our mental hard drives or pressed like flowers between the pages of an old book. A musty old book that could use some sunlight and attention.
As a kid did you like playing? What about recess? Running around doing random fun crap was the best. Then something changed, right?
Of all the people I’ve met who are anti-exercise, most have traumatic memories involving “heath.” A PE teacher who hated you because you hated volleyball, or a sports coach who lost her shit when your team lost a game. What about a controlling parent who used love as an excuse to body shame you? The common thread here is childhood feelings of inadequacy dumped on us by persons we either loved and trusted, or who were trusted to see after our best interests.
So a few years pass. That freshmen 15 gets shrugged off as a normal part of adulating. Hangovers suddenly suck as much as ever but people tell you that’s part of aging. Health conditions related to your diet and inactivity begin creeping up, but who cares? The Good Doctor has pills for that, it’s not the food you eat, it your genes (as your jeans feel ready to burst open from so much cheese). So here you sit missing the good old days when you felt good, but you lack motivation to make easy health changes because you’re complacent in knowing your health deterioration is going according to schedule thanks to so many decent people happy to smother you with toxic guidance.
Guess what beautiful? They failed, not you.
Now see here, I’m willing to bet some cash that you don’t really hate moving your body. You hate the feelings that come with shameful memories related to exercise. And probably the sense of powerlessness that comes from steadily watching your body go to hell.
Happily, it doesn’t take a push-up challenge to properly start your journey unto good health. Nope, it starts with your mind because…
We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves
If you do not make a change today you will live as the person you were yesterday, and the day before that, all the way back to when that little prick in gym glass called you fat and Mr. Jerkoff Gym Teacher chuckled with a sinister glint in his eye. Fuck that noise, it’s time to rewire your brain.
Please quit with the disempowering statements. You can do whatever you want, just do it consistently and it is yours. No big secret here.
Heath Equals Action
I don’t care how cool somebody sounds when body-bashing himself or poking a vegetarian with a stick. See through the bullshit and realize feeling strong and healthy absolutely kills bragging about surviving off doritos or accepting constant low-back pain from choosing netflix over stretching (do both at the same time, yeah!). Because taking care of yourself is the highest form of self-respect, which is damned important.
We put tons of mental energy into health and fitness. The shoulds and should nots we do battle with in our anxious brains. We hope and hope and hope for change, take time to hate our reflection in the mirror, burn willpower on denying “bad” food, and all sorts of other ineffective stuff that makes us feel like a failure, so we quit and become unhealthier with a vengeance.
It doesn’t have to be this way Toto. Start moving, bonus points if you break a sweat. And realize eating for nutrition is important because food is fuel. Your body does so much amazing stuff, it totally deserves it.
Loving yourself begins with healthful action.