Too often we fight our human nature, and fail.
The latest program...lose weight...eat healthier...drink this...take that...do this!
My health and fitness goals? I'm in it for the long haul.
Some programs can be motivation and inspiration for a lasting routine to health; others I can see fading out by the moment.
Human psychology says we like novel things. They're interesting. They catch our attention...for a moment. The thing about novel, our brain doesn't trust it, we have less faith in it. The brand Tide (everybody recognizes Tide) has been a marker of studies on familiarity.
We like familiar.
How many times will Lay's potato chips introduce new flavors before we just don't care anymore?
How often do you change your coffee drink order?
Businesses and organizational psychology studies new & novel versus old & familiar mentality in detail. When deciding what people will buy, corporations have found out the hard way that familiar wins out.
They get desperate though- just for a moment of your attention- and spend billions of dollars creating new products and advertising them.
All for nothing.
People go back to familiar.
Businesses even spend big money rolling out employee programs that eventually die out. People lose interest. The diet and exercise industry is similar- new programs die out.
In addition, the field of positive psychology discovered that people who won the lottery (Woohoo! Oh happy days!) went right back to their baseline level of happiness before winning all that money. It only took about three months for the thrill to wear off.
It turns out we humans are wired this way. Novel temporarily attracts us, but we quickly and naturally revert back to what is familiar. As I've gotten older, I am more likely to take myself out for a walk than try the latest and greatest program.
The psychological explanation for this is mere-exposure effect or "the warm glow of familiarity". It influences us from the music we enjoy, decisions we make, and relationships we establish.
I started tying this notion into diet and exercise about 20 years ago.
While in college, I pursued a health certification in addition to my Psychology degree. As a health and fitness enthusiast, I began asking people what they did to stay trim or what they struggled with to stay trim.
It wasn't surprising to find out naturally slim people were less likely to be on a diet or having ever dieted. They practiced moderation, healthy eating, and prioritized activity.
It's easier for younger people to stay trim so I knew it would be important to learn about the health habits of people 40+ (ahem, yes I know about that firsthand). Metabolism changes, hormones change, your body changes.
This is the test of time.
Many of the fit and 40+ crowd didn't take novelty too seriously- new diet or exercise programs weren't as thrilling as they might be for younger people. If they found themselves on a diet program that worked, it was one geared toward general lifestyle changes.
Stay active. Eat right.
Sounds horribly boring...but long-lasting. While you may be attracted to the shiny new diet or exercise program, you will naturally choose and stick with something more familiar.
This isn't to say never try anything new. New can become your new norm. Pilates was that new norm for me about 10 year ago. Bottom line is when you try out a new program, ask yourself if this is something you see yourself enjoying in the long-run
Envision the long-term benefits. After all, we want life-long results.
The best "program" is lifestyle change. Skip the bells and whistles.
Only 3% of the population is truly healthy, according to the American Heart Association.
I've been thinking about this recently because Bob Harper, fit trainer on The Biggest Loser, just suffered a heart attack at age 51. If you look up "fit" in the dictionary, I guarantee he's flexing in the picture. My uncle was also a fit and active guy who died of his first heart attack at age 60.
There are many factors in health besides what you look like:
Bob's mom died of a heart attack (health history), and even so, his fit lifestyle only got him so far...obviously. Bob practices meditation (mental health). I would assume he got his numbers checked each year at a regular physical (health numbers).
What went wrong? I can only assume, but here's some safe assumptions. The most basic is fitness and diet. He was active- nobody will argue that, but even fit and active people tout the benefits of looking lean with animal protein in their diet. Animal protein is debatable, because it is huge in the fitness industry. Hey, I used to work out with bodybuilders. But also to lose weight, people turn to animal protein. I'm not a vegetarian, but I have been, and I'm still meat-free some days every week. Bob was keen on protein, even the animal type.
Even though Bob's mom died of a heart attack, she didn't have one until she was 70. Bob is 51. Yikes! While the history may have had some involvement, I'm going to discount it.
Bob practiced yoga and meditation. Mental health covered, right? Wrong. My uncle did all this too, but when he wasn't practicing meditation, he was a Type A individual. Did EVERYTHING 100%. Is that healthy? Well, it looks amazing to the rest of us, but it serves little purpose for your own health. I know Type A's are compelled to be that way, but it's worth looking into for health's sake. Bob was a busy guy, and intense about his lifestyle even though it was a healthy lifestyle.
Did he get his health numbers regularly checked? I would assume he did, but this also serves as a reminder that we can feel healthy, but have a lot of things occurring in our body behind the scenes. A lot of "healthy" people don't feel they need to go to the doctor regularly or bother with their numbers.
Looking healthy doesn't always paint the whole picture. I still promote a lifestyle in moderation. I have had my own health issues even after being the most healthy person I knew, but because I can certainly be Type A, I have made significant lifestyle changes. Minus yoga, eating the perfect diet, meditation, intense workouts, and so on...I have learned to relax. Not the meditative type exclusively, but to relax about life in general.
I don't need to hit 100% on everything or do everything right:
Step out of your box of insanity (whatever you feel is terribly terribly important) and for one week, try giving less attention to what it is you give the most attention to. Look at your life as a whole picture, not simply your reflection in the mirror. And relax...
Not always a picture of health...
This was my first baby in the pictures above. I gained a typical amount of weight, but I look at the pictures and I look half dead- happy, but lifeless. Tired, but wired and stressed!
My daughter rarely slept, and I was one of those mothers who was determined to DO IT ALL & DO IT PERFECT. I was intense about work too. And to top that off, I am personally very rewarded by helping others, which means forgetting about my own needs.
Work/ Family Balance? What about YOU? What about health?
I had put my health first for most of my life, but suddenly I put work and family ahead of that. I lost myself in the intricate balance of work and family. Health wasn't even in that equation!
When my daughter was one, I was beginning to feel awful. I was eating right, for the most part, lost baby weight, and my body appeared fine. But I lost sight of the damage that stress does on the inside. I wasn't sleeping much either, maybe 1-3 hours. I traded my corporate career for part-time freelance work, thinking that would ease the stress, but it increased the money stress.
Certainly I wasn't the first stressed mom. In fact that phrase dipped in and out of my mind often, making me feel guilty for not handling my load as well as I should. Comparing ourselves to others does real damage too. I looked at how much other moms seemed to accomplish. My best friend thrived on stress. I never once thought, perhaps they have more support. Perhaps they were not me!
By the time my daughter's second birthday party rolled around, I put a smile on and awaited test results for one of a few autoimmune illnesses I could have. That afternoon, before the party ended, I found out I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The arthritis got bad- couldn't walk and needed help dressing kind of bad. I've had it 7 years now and all along I've been cracking the code of mind-body techniques that affect health. It's more than looking slim- it's about energy, vitality, and an overall importance and commitment to health.
The way food works in my body has been a huge realization for me! I thought I ate healthy, but even so-called healthy foods can aggravate my arthritis. This proves we are so unique in our health needs. Like I said, others are not me...and others are not you.
Because I have a specific illness, a food intolerance blood test helped identify my specific needs (ALCAT test: Food sensitivity is a non-IgE allergy characterized by the measurement of IgG antibodies specific to antigenic food proteins. This IgG food allergy is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction in which symptoms appear anywhere from hours to days after eating the offending food.) Others will do just fine by incorporating more fruits and veggies and less sugar and salt as a general rule.
It pays to know your body so you can take care of your health.
I now know what aggravates the mind and body (this is what I share here on my site). Stress, and various foods affect everyone differently, but the mind/body balance should take precedence over the work/family balance. The mind and body take care of everything else!
Health honors all aspects of your life!
I don't east breakfast, I drink it!
A cup full of apples helps the celery go down. This simple blend of apples and celery is uber-healthy and my kids will drink it. Do they beg for it? Ha! Don't be silly. But they do ask me about what foods are healthy- a conversation starter at the very least.
My kids and I find it easier to drink fruits and veggies than gnaw on them all day like a bunny rabbit.
Both of my kids watched a recent documentary on juicing- fun, inspirational, and inspiring. We found it on Netflix: "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" by Joe Cross. He is 41...so we have something in common. In my 20's and 30's it mattered so much how I looked, less about the way I felt or those numbers we get from our blood tests, but it all matters!
If you want to do your best, get your energy levels up, take your life to the next level, you can't put your body on the backburner. I write a lot about mental health, but the body is equally important. They work together of course.
Good health is imperative to change!
I am a nibbler, a snacker, and I hate kale and quinoa!
I am grossed out by most of the "healthy" food I see grace the pages of my social media. I'm putting my foot down- I don't want to eat like an adult anymore...
I don't want to eat like an adult anymore!
A recent experiment was completely unintentional. A couple months ago, my son and I were sick with a stomach bug. When we were in the process of recovering, we ate similarly. Applesauce, rice, sweet potatoes, yogurt, juiced fruits and veggies, and kids snack bars.
The idea was born. What if I ate like a 4yr. old? Would I feel better? Would I lose the last 10 lbs.?
After all, I feed my kids better than myself. I track their fruit and veggie intake more than my own! I developed the idea even further. What if I treated myself as well as I would if I were mother to myself; giving myself care and attention? Took a nap every once in a while? Yes, please! I ate like my son for a week and found my digestion was improved as well as a couple pounds gone.
Here's my 30 Day self-experiment (you're welcome to join me or follow): Eat and tend to my needs as if I were 4 yrs. old. Yes, I realize I must drive, pay bills, and all that other adult jazz, but I'm thinking there's some serious self-improvement on its way in the next 30 days! I've even bought a couple of toddler/kid cookbooks. I can't stand all this strange stuff I see cooking out there. No, I will not put chia seeds on my cereal. Nasty! I like the simple foods I put in front of my kids and it's time I do myself the favor too!
Get your mind right & get your body right!
It is impossible to avoid the fact that the mind and body are deeply intertwined. This section is for YOUR body- lifestyle inspiration. With certification in Exercise science, I provide realistic health tips with everyone in mind!