People will sell you whatever they think sounds good in order to take your money: "5 Steps to Skinny Thighs", "4 Weeks to Six Pack Abs", "101 Ways to Lose Weight".
I really wish these people would switch to selling used cars, because most of us can't be fooled into buying a car with brakes that don't work.
However, many of us fall victim to one of the biggest American paradoxes of the 21st century, we are an unhealthy nation obsessed with health.
The list of fad diets available to you on the internet or in the form of books should be a downright crime. I'm going to be blunt, but why do we think we can have a healthy body without putting in real work?
Where many of us go wrong, is that we've been programmed to believe we need to look a certain way and get caught constantly comparing ourselves to that unrealistic image.
We start believing that I need or have to lose weight to look like the actor or actress I saw on this or that ad, or that I want a beach body, six pack, or to fit into my wedding dress.
What we don't realize, is that these vanity driven goals are the first step towards failure. How do you think the health industry makes millions? It's messed up, but it's largely off of your desperate need to look a certain way and cyclical failure in doing so.
I'll let you in on the secret these companies and gyms don't want you to learn: if you want to achieve all these outcomes, then you need to reprogram your mindset, and here's how.
Go Against What Society Wants
Everyone is a little vanity driven, I totally get it because at times I am too, it's what makes us human. Yet, what society has placed premium on for years now, is for you to look a certain way. What you should want, is to feel a certain way.
Through education and my own experiences working with my clients, it is my firm belief that if we reprioritized our values and placed health and the pursuit of happiness a step above appearance, our goals would be easier achieved.
Look more closely:
Without your health you can't be your best for your family, friends, partner, etc., and in reality, happiness is one byproduct of good health, it leads to lower stress levels, more energy, better hair, skin, and nails, more confidence, higher sex drive, and so on. Ah yes, just a few ingredients that help to cultivate happiness.
So why are we focusing on appearance first? Appearing healthy does not mean you necessarily are, just look at the misconstrued reality Social Media and Photoshop can create.
Your happiness has to be genuine, social media doesn't know when you are lying to them, but at the end of the day, you do.
Go Towards What You Want
So how about this, imagine your goals as they pertain to health, because for all of us that can be very different.
For me, I love to wake up feeling stronger, more mobile, in less pain, and more energized throughout the day. What results as a natural byproduct of these things is a happier me and healthy body.
The health industry is smart, they also don't see you as a person, but as a consumer. This is a disservice to you, it does not have to be all about pant size, body fat percentage, or looking like the Calvin Klein or swimsuit models you see in ads.
See through it! YOU are important, not the bottom-line of the supplement companies and gyms trying to take advantage of your human weakness.
No More "Shoulds"
My final take away, try not to be so self-focused on this image you have in your head of how you should look because you will likely venture down a dark path of disappointment and unhappiness.
The worst outcome? You create an unhealthy relationship with food, labeling them as bad or good, and view exercise as punishment. If not you, someone you know.
I "Won't" Power Challenge
What is the "stickiest" habit in your life? What would you like to give up or do less of because it's undermining your health, happiness, or success?
I "Want" Power Challenge
What is the most important long-term goal you'd like to focus your energy on? What immediate "want" is most likely to distract you or tempt you away from this goal?
Many of us fall victim to the distorted societal view of fitness and taking shortcuts to get there.
If we actually reversed the common way of thinking, from appearance driven work to health driven work, ironically, appearance would be a natural, and more likely outcome.
Motivation is a tricky and fickle thing, and making sure we are selecting the right motivating factors can have tremendous impact on our long-term success. Take on the "Want, Won't, and Will Challenge" inspired by The Willpower Instinct, and start reprogramming your mindset today.
McGonigal, K. (2012). The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York, NY: Avery.