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 model 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 I will tell you how.
Everyone is a little vanity driven, I totally get it because at times I am too, it's what makes us human. However, through education, my own experiences and in 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.
Your happiness has to be genuine, it cannot be as superficial like social media and photo enhancing programs. So how about this, imagine your goals as they pertain to health, because for all of us they 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 (which as a trainer, I LOVE the domino effect this can have on others!) and a leaner body.
The health industry wants you to focus on the opposite, your apperance! Buy this supplement for a smaller waist or bigger biceps, buy our New Year's resolution membership! They're smart, and 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.
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 (bad foods vs. good foods) and view exercise as punishment (I need to go run off that dessert from last night). If not you, someone you know, trust me. There is nothing wrong with understanding that you're a few pounds overweight, but as mentioned before, the why do you want to lose it is the question you need to be asking yourself. So here's my challenge for you, inspired by The Will Power Instinct by Kelly McGonigal: The simple truth is this, cultivating a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing process and a matter of consistency, investment, and long-term goal selection. To reprogram your mindset in a healthy direction, take action TODAY with the following:
I "Will" Power Challenge
without even batting an eye. But guess what, there is no such quick fix medicine. Every pill you ingest will have a side effect. The real medicine is diligent work and a commitment to physical activity and a healthy diet, and if you don't believe me read this.
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?
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.