Sometimes, learning from the mistakes of others can be the best way of keeping yourself on track. When you know what not to do, then what you should be doing becomes immediately obvious – whatever the exact opposite is!
If you care about your health and fitness, then this is all the more important. Despite the fact that most people know, on the surface, the best way to maintain optimal health and well being (a balanced diet, everything in moderation, exercising frequently), how many of your immediate circle of friends and family actually do it? They might be able to talk a good game, but when it comes to putting that background knowledge into practice, so few of us manage to do it.
The result of this is a world where health is not the top of the priority list until it goes wrong. That’s a shame; that many people never get to experience themselves living as best they possibly can. Instead, investigations over their health and well-being only begin when those things fall below an acceptable point. If everyone thought more about their health, their fitness, and their ability to live life to its fullest, as much when things as “normal” as they do when things are bad… well, chances are we’d all be better off.
If being able to do this is a goal of yours, then there’s no point waiting for a huge, significant event or the turn of a year to make a new resolution to do it. As the old saying goes, there’s pretty much no better time than right now.
Of course, it’s not that simple – the ways and means of ensuring you maintain your health can be difficult to understand. There seems to be so many (frequently competing) viewpoints, that you can have no idea which advice you’re supposed to follow.
So looping back around to the beginning, and the concept of learning primarily from the mistakes of others – it’s easy to see why this would appeal. Rather than focus on the various (and frequently contradictory) ideas about what you should do, you can just look at the mistakes others have made. Armed with that information, you can chart your own course, knowing that you might just be avoiding the problems of those who have gone before you…
Reason #1: Making It Difficult On Themselves
It’s one thing to just decide to “eat better” or “exercise more” – those are vague goals, which can be accomplished in many different ways.
The problem comes when you decide to jump into something that is incredibly stringent. It might be the latest fad diet such as eating exclusively paleo or fasting on the 5:2 diet, or you go for a workout regime that doesn’t leave room for any off days (any workout plan referred to as a “shred” tends to fall into this category). People go for these as they tend to be marketed as an immediate cure-all, the fix that they have been waiting for all of their lives. Sure, it might be restrictive, but who cares if it gets results?
Well, firstly, it might not get results. There is no perfect eating and workout plan that is going to work for everyone. Secondly, the moment you start to feel restricted or struggle with something you are doing, the moment you’re going to want to rebel against it. Countless people find this; when the initial enthusiasm wanes, they simply feel they are being denied too much. It’s too easy to rationalize as: what’s the point of doing all this if I feel like I am constantly missing out?
To avoid falling into this trap, don’t be too restrictive. Keep an open mind; set some days aside when you can eat what you fancy, when you can workout (or not!) exactly as your mood tells you to. These days might sound like a recipe for disaster, but they’re actually essential for maintaining your morale. By making yourself all about health and fitness all the time, you can soon begin to question if it’s worth it if you’re constantly miserable.
Reason #2: Boredom
It’s incredibly easy to find yourself bored with the pursuit of better health.
This is one of those points that doesn’t sound like it would happen – who could be bored with the idea of the search for ways to ensure you look, and feel, better? It seems like the kind of thing you’d have endless reserves of patience for.
The reality is quite different. When people find themselves confronted by their fifth salad of the week and it’s only Wednesday, the flicker of boredom feels more potent than the potential benefits of eating it. The same is true of working out. People are encouraged to find a routine at the gym, develop a set plan that helps them reach their goals, but the problem is that routine soon begins to feel tired.
It’s important to try and keep things fresh and exciting, never lingering for too long on the same food choices or the same workout. With food, try and experiment with different cuisines and styles of cooking – there is always something new to tempt you. Even just trying a few nice spices every once in awhile will do you the world of good, just to make life more interesting.
Exercise is even simpler to keep interesting. It’s not just pounding it out on the machines at the gym that will do your body a world a good; basically, any form of movement will do. You could try dancing, horseback riding, or just register for a class that your gym is running and sounds mildly interesting. That’s not to say you’re going to love all of these things, but breaking your routine and trying something different might prevent you from skipping workout days out of boredom.
Reason #3: Being Too Busy
We have a problem with busyness in the modern world. We all claim to be busy and, to an extent, we are. Working hours are long, running our kids to various activities takes hours of our week, not to mention the general household maintenance tasks that demand our attention.
However, we also tend to find the room in our lives for things that aren’t a priority. Messing about online, catching up with friends, binge-watching the latest TV shows – all essential in one way, making us feel we are included, reasons to be happy. However, this does somewhat give rise to the fact we’re not so busy we can’t fit in a workout every once in awhile.
Nevertheless, being too busy is one of the most frequently cited reasons for letting things slip. This is most true in terms of food. Now, there is no denying the fact that cooking a meal from scratch – using ingredients you can rely on the source of – is more time-consuming than just slinging a microwave meal on a plate. Of course, there will be days when the idea of convenience food isn’t so much a solution as a necessity – but for many people, that feeling of being too busy (even if it’s relatively without substance, when you think about it) means it becomes all too regular. Feeling pushed for time at all angles, the healthy eating and workout is one of the first things to go, and the problem can become chronic.
As has been hinted at, the best way to beat through this issue is to make sure you have got your priorities in order. Make sure you still enjoy life, of course – no one is going to suggest you should forgo a chat with a friend in favor of another 10 minutes in the gym! However, try and keep some perspective and acknowledge that, with better time management, you can probably have the chat and the extra 10 minutes in the gym. Time management is not something that we just instinctively know; we tend to have to practice at it, so chase down a few tips and start to implement them.
Reason #4 – Feeling Left Out
One of the biggest problems with switching the way you do things is that it can quickly leave you feeling left out. It’s uncomfortable to be the person that, when you go out for a meal with friends, is sitting there quizzing the waiter on the exact nutrients found in each dish. Nor do you want to skip that step and just crunch on breadsticks all night, as there’s nothing on the menu that you can be sure adheres to the conditions of your diet.
It’s the same with exercise; you can feel that you’re spending time working out when you could be socializing. It’s especially difficult if you feel the thing you are missing out on is being with your children. So while you are focusing on your health and well-being in one area, it can quickly feel like you are losing your grip on it in others.
Feeling this way means that people are more likely to abandon their changed way of life, in pursuit of being able to feel part of their life again. For your own experience, try and remember that you can’t expect yourself to sacrifice everything. There will be nights where you want to organize a meal out and not have to worry about the food, or abandon a night in the gym in favor of a long bedtime story with your kids. That’s all completely valid.
Solutions to the above issues would be as follows: only eat a main course when going out with friends and do situps in front of the TV when your kids are in bed. Little changes can make a huge overall impact.