By VANESSA HAMPTON
Living a healthy life is a process. It’s not something given to you. It’s not something that some people just have and others don’t. There’s not a magic pill, diet, or workout that is the key to suddenly being healthy. Most importantly, it’s not a destination. Choosing to be healthy is an unending journey and it simply takes commitment to yourself.
Maybe you have already done that. Maybe you have committed to yourself and are the person that is living a healthy life consistently. If you are, instead, the one that is sitting on your couch right now scouring through fitness and health articles looking for “the” answer, you won’t find it there. This is because the answer to living a healthy life lies in you.
We all know that we need to exercise. We know that we need to eat healthy and, for a minute, we are all in. It goes like this. We find this diet online that worked wonders for Joe Schmo. He lost 92 pounds just by eating two cans of green beans every day for 6 months. We think “I can do that”, and we ignite hope that this diet may be the one. This may be the game changer for us. We head to the grocery store and stock up on 5 cases of the finest green beans.
We have also found this Ab workout in a magazine that looks amazing. The article promises if we do this workout 6 days a week for the next 3 months, we will have a 6- pack suitable for the cover. DONE! That seems easy enough and we will be able to check the box for exercise. Green beans and ab work. This is the answer. We just know it.
We make it through the first week of our new-found plan. We are faithful to our green beans and we are rocking our scissor kicks. Heck, we were even inspired to get in a 10-minute run. Forget the fact that we haven’t run a day since middle school. We only felt like we were going to die twice during it and we didn’t so…success!
Then the second week rolls around. We are quite literally having to restrain ourselves from hurling a can of those green beans at some poor soul’s head. Our abs hurt so bad that we can’t completely walk upright…but that could be because we destroyed our knees with that stupid 10-minute run last week. Not to mention that we are unsure what’s happening, but it seems our stomach is actually expanding instead of shrinking as the magazine promised.
WHAT. THE. HECK.
Day 10 we decide we are taking a break from green beans and sit-ups. We just need a little break, but we will get back to it tomorrow. Day 11…just one more rest day and then back to it. Day 12…screw it. Four weeks later we find ourselves back on the internet looking for a different solution. Recognize the pattern?
We have all done it and, if you are like me, many times over. The problem with this strategy and this mindset is that what we are really searching for “easy”. We are a culture of instant gratification and we want to see results now. Oh, and we prefer not to have to work for it. It’s not necessarily intentional but easy is just more appealing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Choosing healthy means finding balance and it starts with a change in our headspace.
It begins by stepping away from a number on the scale or a pants size as our motivation. It starts with the desire to live a long and comfortable life. We don’t often think about it when we are younger, but if we are overweight or sedentary as we age, the more pain we will be in consistently. The more doctors we will have to see. The more medicines we will have to take and surgeries we will have to have. Most importantly, the more difficult it will be to reverse all of this both mentally and physically with each passing birthday.
When we start small and begin to make healthy choices for ourselves that are motivated by quality of life, everything that we are hoping to see in the mirror will follow. It’s about finding what is sustainable. Not a short term “diet”, but a change in eating habits. Not a quick fix workout, but exercise that we actually enjoy and that our body can handle. With balance, our bodies will not only settle out to the size they are supposed to be over time, but our perspective of the person we see in the mirror will shift. It’s empowering to choose healthy. It feels good. Being proud of the person we see in our reflection IS the game changer.
So today, commit to yourself. Choose your meals according to what will be the best decision for fueling and caring for your body for the long term. Choose to start your exercise with a walk or a yoga class and allow your body a chance to adapt without hurting yourself. Go to bed tonight knowing that you made good choices for yourself. Then, tomorrow, wake up and do it again. Finding what is sustainable for you in your nutrition and your exercise means finding your balance.
Don’t choose easy today. Choose healthy. You got this.
Vanessa Hampton, owner of Body Balance with V and Body Balance Massage & Wellness, is a personal trainer, yoga instructor, Fitness Coach, and CrossFit coach (CrossFit Cool Springs, Brentwood). Follow her on Facebook or Instagram @bodybalancewithv @bbmassageandwellness or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.