I am a health coach and personal trainer. I give nutrition consultations. I graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science and will graduate in 3 weeks with my M.P.H. in Physical Activity in Public Health. And yet…AND YET…I am far from perfect when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Yes, I do pretty well. When I’m on my game I exercise 5-6 times a week and correctly portion out my meals, making sure to pay the required amount of attention to each food group. I probably go through 2 bags of lettuce those weeks.
But when it’s not those weeks? Oh boy are we in trouble. I just ate a mini bread pudding right before I started to write this blog post.
I would like to note that I am of the school of thought that it is perfectly fine, acceptable, and actually necessary to indulge once in awhile. What I am talking about is not the act of simply indulging one meal or day.
Why is it that even though we know the keys to a healthy lifestyle, we still don’t implement them? What are our barriers? What is holding us back from that healthy lifestyle that we envision in our heads and keep saying we will start? How many times can I tell myself “eating clean starts tomorrow” or “back at it in the gym tomorrow!” Even if those two things do happen “tomorrow,” why can’t
we I maintain these habits that I preach to others so often about? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t tell anyone anything they don’t want to hear. I don’t stand on the corner and yell “GET YOUR GREENS PEOPLE.” But I can sit down with a nutrition client, evaluate their daily dietary and physical activity habits, and lead them down the path of health happiness. I know what I’m supposed to do. Why don’t I do it?
If you know what you’re supposed to do, but you don’t do it, why is that?
Behavior changes are HARD. Let’s list some reasons why:
Want to know the secret to some of these commonly-listed barriers? A lot of them are mental. Let’s go through them once more:
- Time: We are all busy. I often think that I just don’t have enough time to work out in a day. Some days, this may be true. But if you sit down and take a hard look at your schedule, I bet you can find at least a half hour each day to get some exercise in. Substitute exercise for the time that you spend in front of the T.V. or computer; Eat lunch at your desk and use your lunch break to get a jog or a quick lift in; wake up 45 minutes earlier. If I take a look at my schedule each day I can actually find several half hour or hour-long periods in which a work out would fit perfectly. I actually found that, one week, I wrote down “exercise” during a two-hour period that I had nothing scheduled and…wouldn’t you know it?..I got a great work out in that day. We take the time to write down doctors appointments, coffee dates with friends, and meetings with co-workers. Why don’t we take the time to write down something just as important, if not more important, for our mind and body health? Write it down, people, write it down.
- Money: This is a big one for me. As a graduate student, I am currently living paycheck to paycheck. I’m not complaining. This is what you just have to do sometimes and in reality it could be a whole lot worse. However, often times I make the excuse that I am not eating a healthy meal because grocery shopping is expensive…so instead I will just buy out for lunch a couple times a week. That math doesn’t add up. In the $34-50 I can spend at the grocery store each week replenishing my fruits and veggies supplies to go along with my ingredients at home that last longer, I can get a weeks worth (or more!) of meals–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In DC, the average price per meal is $10…on the low end. So I am saving around $100 by sucking it up and grocery shopping. When I refuse to spend the time to prepare a healthy meal at the beginning of the week, I am being lazy, for one. Second, I am more comfortable with spending $10 at one time…several times a week…than $50 at one time…once a week. This math doesn’t add up, friends. Let’s go to the grocery store and find our veggie friends.
- Boredom/Disinterest: The other day I hopped on the treadmill and hopped off after approximately 1 minute and 17 seconds. Why? I was SO bored. Sometimes I can stand the treadmill. Sometimes I am really in the zone. Sometimes I’m just not. BUT this just in: exercise comes in many forms and it doesn’t have to be boring. I didn’t want to be on the treadmill that day. Even if I forced myself to stay on, I wouldn’t have had the best workout anyway. Choose an activity that is mentally stimulating and do that. Also, know that variety is good. Some days I feel on top of the world when I do cardio. Other days, cardio is my worst enemy. On those days, I lift or choose a high intensity circuit. (These are the weeks that I’m on my game.) Yesterday, my friend came back into the gym office dripping in sweat. Did you work out? I asked. No, she said, I just played basketball. Hey silly, that’s a work out, too.
Soak that all in and look forward to my next post about how I plan to turn my healthy lifestyle preaching into my healthy lifestyle practice. Goal setting galore! Happy Sunday.