360 Degree Health, Part 1: MATH.
This is the first of a 5 part discussion on achieving what I call 360 Degree Health: reaching your best quality of life, and sustaining it for the rest of your days. Starting now.
I've spent most of my existence experimenting different ways to improve my quality of living, and I've taken note on what causes my ups and downs. I've paid attention to my client's journeys as well. Through my observations, I've realized a few choice things:
1. It isn't easy to make or maintain changes in the long run, even if huge benefits are guaranteed.
2. It's not a one-move-you're-done type thing. It's ongoing and gradual, which can feel very overwhelming at times. Some days...weeks...YEARS...are harder than others.
3. Mistakes should never be accepted as failure, because then we give up. Mistakes are teachers, helping us to re-evaluate our approach.
4. We're talking quality of life here, not a militant health regimen where you can't eat a brownie ever again. You're in control, and can set your own rules, based on what you want out of your own life.
5. The challenges of improving life quality often do mean sacrifice, but that doesn't mean goodbye happiness. You're actually growing its capacity.
Over the next couple of months, I will dissect 5 barriers we encounter on the road to 360 Degree Health, and (when applicable) I'll offer realistic solutions. My goal is for these discussions to serve as guides as you figure out what's best for you. Just remember: be honest, but be kind and understanding with yourself as you embrace your own challenges. Take an active role in your own well-being! You'll be so glad you did.
Here comes some truth, and what to do with it!
Barrier #1. MATH.
Let's say you've made the decision to work out more (a great start on the way to a high quality of life), and you're steadily maintaining that goal. You're hungrier and often bone-weary, so you start to weave in hard-earned rewards.
This path is quickly a slippery slope, and the most positive result you can expect from doing rationalizing "math" is a stomach ache.
For example: "I ran today + work kicked my butt = I earned 1 whole pizza and a six pack for dinner."
Sound familiar? I'd guess most of us have done some version of this equation in our lives, and it's not always the direct result of a work out. We could just be rewarding ourselves for a job well done, or licking our wounds after something painful! Humans can reach a level of rationalization that, when looked at objectively, is impressive in its ridiculousness. In no way does one 2 mile run balance out 3,000 calories in carbs/ saturated fats, and 1,000 empty calories in alcohol (also a known contributor in slowing a metabolism).
Who among us have gained weight, and didn't know why? And be honest...how often do you "earn" rewards every week? Mouth-pleasure, in the moment, can make us feel just as good as a work out does. Reward creates a sort of high we crave - and if we "earned" it, whether because of hard work or pain, we believe there's less consequence.
It's really easy to choose what we want to be true, and to believe it whole-heartedly. Somehow we can block out the obvious consequences, like when we feel physically AND mentally lousy (and more than a little nauseated) after eating that entire pizza. We associate certain bad habits with positive effect (mouth pleasure, a buzz, etc), even when the bad effects outweigh the good. Our bodies rebel, but our minds build a complex web designed to ignore it and to support the bad math.
I can honestly say, I have been creative with bad math. My husband and I have experimented like crazy with all sorts of methods to reduce the amount of crap we put into our bodies. In concept, it’s easy to talk about. But to implement and sustain is another issue altogether.
We can try to dissect why it's hard, but the answer is highly personal and unique for every person. The first step is accepting the truth. That rationalizing part of your brain wants you to feel good, and right this minute. And it's ok to indulge once in a while. But parameters have to exist to reach the best quality of life that you can, because pizza every day does not improve life quality in the long run.
So it's time to engage in awareness! I suggest limiting indulgences to one or two days a week. See how it goes! Who knows, maybe the positive outcomes will surprise you. At the very least, you'll be conscious of the number of times you rationalize that bacon cheeseburger and fries. Ugh, now my mouth is watering...
Let's look at your unique challenges with honestly and kindness. Being honest encourages you and others to respect who you are, making it easier to move forward. I'd be honored to partner with you on this journey.
More to come...
Ready for Part 2? Use this link to get there: Part 2: HABITS